Ghost Light on Graveyard Shoal (American Girl History Mysteries Series #21)by Elizabeth McDavid Jones, Greg Dearth, Douglas Fryer
Children's LiteratureRhoda Midyette lives on an island off Virginia, where her father is keeper of the U.S. Lifesaving Station. It is 1895, and her dad and his men regularly risk their lives to help storm-tossed boats. When Rhoda spots an unusual light, she wonders if the old stories about a ghostly sea captain could be true. Or maybe it's something less spectral, but far more sinister: a "wrecker," or someone who intentionally misdirects ships in order to plunder them. This kid-friendly whodunit is part of the "History Mysteries" series, and as such is full of fascinating details about a little-known place and time. Today's kids should be intrigued by facts such as people sleeping on seaweed-stuffed mattresses, using porpoise-oil lights for illumination, and going shopping only once a monthand getting there by boat, rather than by car. 2003, American Girl, Ages 9 to 12.
VOYALiving on Glenn Island on the Virginia Coast in 1895 presents many challenges for the Midyette family, especially because its father is the keeper of the U.S. Lifesaving Station and responsible for the safety of all those who travel the treacherous waters off the coastline. Twelve-year-old Rhoda is both proud and terrified for her father, who puts his life on the line every day to feed his family. When she suspects that someone is trying to wreck ships to collect their bounty on Graveyard Shoal, she realizes that she has to be as brave as her father to help save lives. In her quest for the truth, Rhoda must overcome the legend of the Mangled Mariner, her father's reluctance to take her seriously, and the deadly illness of her best friend, Pearl. Middle-grade readers will thoroughly enjoy every aspect of this tale. Jones combines a ghost story, a young girl's love of animals, suspense on the high seas, and a rip-roaring mystery to create a highly appealing story for all reading abilities. Fans of the American Girl History Mystery series will find this book easily enough, but librarians need to make sure that this story gets in many hands, especially those of young readers who complain that there just are not enough mysteries out there. Rhoda is 1895's answer to Nancy Drew. Included is a short chapter on the actual history of U.S. Lifesaving Stations that might further encourage readers to learn more about Mr. Midyette's treacherous job. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2003, Pleasant Company, 153p., Trade pb. Ages 11 to 14.
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