A brother and sister embark on a ghastly undertaking.
Japanese American siblings Ben and Lola Tajima are visiting their grandparents in their new home in Chicago. The concise text narrates in the third person through Ben’s perspective as the two endure a five-hour bus ride from their home in Columbus, Ohio, and are greeted by their grandparents with a long itinerary of fun-filled days. During one outing, Ben unearths a small silver boat out of the mud. Later that night, the ghost of a young boy appears, urging Ben to “come find me” in subsequent visits. When a tour guide on another outing relates the story of the SS Eastland boat disaster, which resulted in over 800 deaths, Ben wonders if somehow the ghost and the disaster are connected. Thoroughly spooked, Ben tells his family of his visitor and finds he cannot rid himself of the toy boat or the ghost. As the siblings work toward bringing the ghost peace, Ivy’s black-and-white cartoon illustrations bring context to the story. Ben and Lola’s grandparents are first-generation Japanese immigrants, and readers familiar with the culture may notice some details are off. Troupe gives more details of the SS Eastland disaster in the author’s note. Another entry in the Haunted States of America series, The Dead Below: A Pennsylvania Ghost Story, publishes simultaneously.
A quick read for those looking to be slightly creeped out.
(Paranormal suspense. 8-11)
Pub Date: today
Page Count: 136
Publisher: North Star Editions
Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020