Title: The Castle Blues Quake
Series: The Ghost Whisperer #1
Author: Linda Covella
Publication Date: July 20, 2014
Genre: Middle Grade Paranormal
Synopsis12-year-old Pepper Connelly leaves her best friend, Chrissie, behind when her family moves from New York City to Santa Cruz, CA. Pepper discovers a boy, Corey, hiding in her backyard shed. Unknown to Pepper, Corey is a ghost trying to contact his grandfather, Boppie, before he crosses over. He tells Pepper he must locate Boppie before Social Services finds him. Pepper agrees to help.
While Pepper’s communication with Chrissie dwindles, her friendship with Corey grows. She tells Corey about her passion for writing songs, and throughout the story, she composes a song about Corey. Corey teaches Pepper to play the harmonica. Soon, she’s torn between finding Boppie and knowing when she does, Corey will certainly go back on the road with his traveling-musician grandfather.
Other characters help her on her quest: new classmate Ally Cressman, who dresses in an odd-ball, non-mall style; Sawtooth Sam, the mysterious saw-playing street musician; and Madame Mchumba, who performs her psychic readings at the Boardwalk amusement park. Earthquakes, haunted house rides, poltergeists, and crystal ball readings propel Pepper toward the shocking conclusion of her search.
GUEST POST: Favorite Classic Book by Linda Covella
Three books are at the top of my “Favorite Classic Book” list: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Today I’m going to discuss the third because it’s one of the first novels I ever read. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was originally published in 1943, well before I was born. I don’t remember that the book was required reading in school, and I think my mother, who was a school librarian, gave it to me. But the story is one that stayed with me for a long time after reading it, and to this day I consider it one of my favorite books. Writing this now makes me realize it’s a book I want to reread. I think it can be enjoyed by both children and adults.
The story is divided into 5 sections, which mostly follow the life of Francie Nolan from the ages of eleven to seventeen, though the second section flashbacks to the meeting of Francie’s parents when they’re teenagers.The novel takes place in the early 1900s in the immigrant tenements of Brooklyn. Francie and her family, like most of their fellow immigrants, live in poverty. Francie’s father, Johnny, is an alcoholic and because of that has trouble keeping his jobs as a singing waiter. The task of supporting the family falls on Francie’s mother, Katie, who cleans apartments for a living. Francie and her brother also work odd jobs and sell junk to contribute to the household.
In spite of Johnny’s drinking, Francie admires her handsome father who she sees as a talented singer and emotionally approachable, in contrast to her mother who appears cold and distant as she focuses on the family’s survival.
The tree referred to in the title grows in a courtyard in the tenement where Francie lives and, since it flourishes with little water or light, becomes a symbol for strength and perseverance in the midst of hardship, not only to Francie but to all the immigrants. Seeing it every day from the fire escape in her building, it is also one of the few beautiful things she has in her life.
I liked this book for its tale of hope and tenacity. And what I loved most about it is how Francie manages the drudgery of her daily life of poverty by escaping into her imagination and her books. Though I certainly don’t have that poverty-stricken life, that theme ties back into my own love of creating and using my imagination with my writing.
It’s also why I love to read, to escape, or venture into, or experience new places and people.Francie Nolan is a character after my own heart.
What is your favorite classic book?
Author BioLinda Covella’s varied job experience and education (associate degrees in art, business and mechanical drafting & design, a BS degree in Manufacturing Management) have led her down many paths and enriched her life experiences. But one thing she never strayed from is her love of writing.
A writer for over 30 years, her first publication was a restaurant review column, and as a freelance writer, she continued to publish numerous articles in a variety of publications. But when she published articles for children’s magazines (“Games and Toys in Ancient Rome” and “Traveling the Tokaido in 17th Century Japan,” in Learning Through History magazine, and “Barry’s Very Grown Up Day” in Zootles magazine), she realized she’d found her niche: writing for children. She wants to share with kids and teens her love of books: the worlds they open, the things they teach, the feelings they express.
The Castle Blues Quake, a middle grade paranormal, and Yakimali’s Gift, a historical novel for young adults, are her first novels.
She’s a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).
No matter what new paths she may travel down, she sees her writing as a lifelong joy and commitment.
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