Sunday, April 21, 2013

Paranormal Properties by Tracy Lane

Title: Paranormal Properties
Author: Tracy Lane
Genre: YA
Publisher: Pants on Fire Press (February 27, 2013)
Available: $2.99 at Amazon
Rating: 4 stars
Raters: Dihanna and Lauri

From the publisher:

The Weir family has just arrived in Dusk, North Carolina, one of the most haunted cities in America, to scope out some of the town’s 127 reported “paranormal properties,” which just happens to be the name of their own ghost hunting show: Paranormal Properties. What Jake Weir doesn’t know, and what his parents could never imagine, is that Jake can see ghosts! And hear them. And talk back to them! This talent comes in handy when he runs into Dusk’s oldest, most famous ghost: Frank Barrone, a one-time lounge singer made famous by his booze-soaked ballad, “Barroom Eyes.”

Frank was gunned down by a local mobster in 1951 and has been searching for his killer ever since. When he learns that Jake can see and hear him, Frank makes young Jake a deal: if Jake will help Frank find his killer, Frank will help his parents find a ghost to film for their upcoming Halloween Special on Public Access TV. Jake enlists the only friend he’s made in Dusk, an overweight tomboy nicknamed “Tank,” to help him track down Frank’s killer. As clues emerge and old leads heat up, Frank and Jake learn they make quite a team. But will Jake find Frank’s killer? And will Frank find a real haunted house in time for the Halloween special?

What I liked: I thought the book was so wonderfully cute, and that I just loved all the characters in it. Frank, the ghost, is looking for his body and finds a friend in the only person who can see him - Jake. I love the compassion Frank shows for Jake, and how he helps his ghosthunter parents. Gotta say I dearly love Tank (though see my caveat below) and was glad Jake and his family took her in. Lots of good messages here. With the one exception noted below, I found the book well written and a joy to read.

What I didn’t like: I don’t like the “overweight” word, and I am especially unhappy at its employment in literature to stigmatize a person, especially – especially! – in children’s books. I strongly recommend that the author read up on how damaging stigmatizing fat people, especially children, is and how that stance damages, sometimes permanently, the self esteem of children, which causes problems ranging from eating-disordered behavior to suicide. (Besides, we should not be equating "fat" with "unhealth," and teaching that critical thinking begins in childhood.) I recommend the wealth of information at NAAFA and HAES to the author, and anyone who wonders at this topic.

In sum: A fun book for kids, but watch for the pitfalls listed above -- and talk to your kids about these issues in this and every book.

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