Ruby is bold and opinionated, while Olivia has always been respectful and well behaved. But Olivia’s good-girl image is tarnished when she takes the fall for her twin sister’s misdeed. And now Olivia is stuck with Ruby all summer—at a community service day camp for troublemakers.
To kick off the spirit of service, the campers are tasked with cataloging the contents of Live Oaks, a historic mansion in their town. Sorting through objects in an old house sounds boring, and working together is the last thing the girls want to do, but the stuff is actually kind of cool. There’s everything from mink stoles to golf clubs to antique dolls . . . and . . . wait . . . is that doll watching them?
It isn’t long until little tricks—like mysterious music playing, doors slamming, and shadows rising—start to spook the girls. They’d like to think the other campers are pranking them, but they soon realize that this empty mansion might not be uninhabited after all. To solve the mystery at Live Oaks, Ruby and Olivia will have to put their old grudges aside and figure out how to be a team.
This gently creepy middle-grade story is full of all the heart, humor, and authenticity that make Rachel Hawkins a favorite with kids and teachers alike.
Intended for grades 3-7
This is a cute book that encapsulates the middle school years perfectly. There's a LOT going on here. First, Ruby and Olivia are kind of like oil and water-they don't mix well, and they like to irritate each other. But they're stuck with each other due to circumstances that have led them both to a summer camp for "bad kids." First, I don't like labeling kids as bad. That is off putting to me, but that aside-the characters are well written and evolve over the course of the book to become close friends.
There's also some drama there between Olivia and her twin sister Emma-where both are trying to find their own unique identities in the midst of being twins. I can remember in middle school and high school, I went to school with several sets of twins. This is about the age when their close bond was truly tested, and they each wanted their own "self" separate from the duo everyone else knew them as. I think the author does a very good job portraying this.
There's also the matter of a ghost story, and Ruby and Olivia are put to the test to solve this mystery-which ultimately leads to their friendship taking shape.
The story is cute, and the pacing may be ok for a child. As an adult reading this with my son, I found it to be a bit on the dry and slow side at times. I wish there was more in the way of Ghost antics all throughout the story. Overall, it's a cute story that should appeal to kids in the intended age range.
**I received this free in exchange for my honest opinion. I wasn't required to write an honest review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own or those of my family.**