Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads synopsis: When book-smart Anne Parson meets Halloween Spavento, she sees exactly what she wants to see — a friend. Halloween waves away trouble, magically silences school bullies and offers Anne unfailing friendship. But, when the Spavento family’s enchanting exploits are exposed, will Anne face her fears and save Halloween?
A spellbinding tale of outcasts who find acceptance, a girl who discovers the true meaning of family, and characters who are not always what they seem.
I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I found this book to be a great read for middle-graders, at a time when they are starting to become socially awkward and peer acceptance is starting to become central to them. Anne seeks acceptance from her parents by excelling in school, going to tutors, learning different languages, musical instruments, always sticking to the schedule. Unfortunately, that schedule is bereft of the one thing that children need most in their lives: their parents’ presence and love. That being the norm for her, she doesn’t realise what she is missing until she meets Halloween, the girl across the orchard.
Halloween couldn’t be more different from Anne, she’s a free spirit who is home schooled and has all the parental love and affection in her life that she could want. When Anne and Halloween start going to school together, they are immediately the object of the class’ bully, and Halloween seems to wave away the trouble.
As the book progresses, Anne sees what she is missing in her parents’ absence and lack of affection. The only part I didn’t agree with or like was the ending where Anne’s parents just walk away from her. How can parents do this? I’m not saying its unrealistic, because god knows, parents do this all the time, but is this something you want to show middle-grade children, that parents can walk away from their children without some sort of consequences?
Despite that ending, I still thought it was a pretty good book and perhaps the ending can open up discussion between children and their parents.