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The Ghost of Spruce Point


About The Book

A young boy must unravel a curse to save his family’s beloved Maine motel in this spooky, “tightly paced” (Publishers Weekly) middle grade novel sure to delight fans of Whispering Pines and The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street!

Twelve-year-old Parker has grown up in his family’s Home Away Inn, nestled on a wooded peninsula in Maine called Spruce Point. His best friend, Frankie, has been staying at the inn every summer for years with her family. Together, they’ve had epic adventures based out of a nearby old treehouse that serves as their official headquarters for Kids Confidential Meetings.

But lately, business at the inn hasn’t been great, and Parker is pretty sure he knows why. It’s long been rumored that Mrs. Gruvlig, one of the few year-rounders on Spruce Point, has unique abilities of the supernatural kind. And Frankie is absolutely sure she saw a ghost on Mrs. Gruvlig’s property! As more and more spooky happenings occur around the Point, Parker and Frankie are convinced Spruce Point has been officially cursed.


Chapter One: Anchors Aweigh

THE BLOODRED MOON casts an eerie glow over the bay. Fog lifts off the ocean and swirls around us as the lapping splash of the incoming tide sways the thick wooden posts of the dock beneath me. If there is a perfect time and place for a ghost story, I’m sitting smack-dab in the middle of it.

“Tell it again, Dad. Please tell it!”

Dad steps back from the telescope and sits next to me, our legs dangling above the dark, churning water. He tightens the hood of his parka against the late-May chill and takes a big sniff of the air. I do the same. If one of the fancy tourist shops in Bar Harbor ever made a candle called Spruce Point, it would smell like this: a mix of spruce, pine, and fir trees layered with the heavy scent of briny ocean.

“You know every detail of this story,” Dad says, knocking his shoulder against mine. “You should tell it to me.”

“You tell it better,” I say. “And Lee Lee’s not here, so don’t leave out any of the scary parts.”

Mom took my sister, Bailey, up to bed already, after they’d had a look at the special moon too. When the moon is full and at its closest to the earth, that’s a supermoon. And tonight there’s a lunar eclipse too, which makes the moon look red and even cooler. A super blood moon like this only happens once every several years.

I’m the one who tracks all this stuff, and the telescope was my tenth birthday present two years ago. At school, some kids call me Mr. Moon. But not in a mean way. They just know it’s my thing. During the school year, Bailey and I ride a van forty-five minutes each way to Bridgewater Consolidated with almost all the other kids who live in tiny towns around this part of Maine. That’s pretty much the only time we get to see our friends since it’s too far of a drive for our parents to get to any outside-of-school stuff. And even though I miss my friends in the summer, I do not miss that boring van ride.

But luckily, I have one summer friend who makes up for living so far away from everyone: Frankie Wilkins. Every summer since we were six, Frankie’s family has rented the cottage right next door to our house, a.k.a. the Home Away Inn, my family’s year-round business. I wish she were here to see this right now, but at least she’ll be here soon—seventeen days and counting.

A wave rolls in and licks at the bottom of our boots. The tide will be about two feet higher than usual tonight, and that’s on top of the already elevated sea level everyone around here is always worried about.

Dad pulls his legs up onto the dock and turns toward me.

“It was a night just like tonight.” His voice rumbles low, like he’s narrating a movie trailer. “The sailors onboard the Westward out of Penobscot Bay knew the coastal route well, and they’d been in worse weather. Spirits were high as the schooner rounded Spruce Point, and the familiar clanging of the floating buoys greeted them.”

“The same sounds we hear right now,” I point out. I love this part of the story. Completely hidden in the fog, the faint clang-clung of the buoys posted off the tip of the point add the perfect soundtrack.

“But then…,” says Dad, his voice urgent. I shiver a little, and he puts his arm around me.

“It’s chilly,” I say. “I’m not scared. Keep going.”

Dad clears his throat and continues. “But then the current swelled, shifting the Westward dangerously close to the rocks. The men shouted and ran to their stations, desperate to regain control against a sudden blast of arctic wind. A spark of light, brighter green than anything the men had ever seen occur in nature, flashed across the beach and swelled into a giant orb, which disappeared into the thick forest along the coast. Many believe that in that exact moment, Spruce Point fell under a curse.

“It was certainly true for the crew of the Westward. The men were distracted. Confused and momentarily blinded. They had no chance of righting their course, and the schooner was dashed against the rocky shore, the mighty ship reduced to splinters under the force of the rogue waves pummeling the vessel.

“In the morning, villagers mounted a search for the ship’s crew that lasted the whole day. While they combed the wreckage, they shared stories about odd experiences the night before. From a chattering flock of sparrows that spun in several tight circles around the church spire before heading out to sea, to a cat who had hissed all night into the empty darkness, each tale hinted that something had spooked the area animals.

“As the sun set, a harsh truth came to light: there were no survivors. All of the sailors had gone to their watery graves, never to be seen again.” At this point, Dad always looks down at the ocean and folds his hands for a moment of silence.

“Except…,” I whisper after I’d taken a moment too.

“Except, legend says that some nights, when the moon is full, the curse returns and the ghosts of the crew of the Westward walk the point, searching for the green light that led to their demise. Their spirits will not rest until the source of the light is revealed. Only then will the link to the curse be broken.”

Cool droplets from the fog collect on my eyelashes. I shiver again.

“Dun-dun-dun.” Dad grabs my shoulders, leaning me toward the edge of the dock.

I startle, then laugh as a tingle zaps through me. Dad smiles and pulls me to standing.

“Okay, Parker, time to pack up and head inside before Mom sends out a search party.” He hoists the heavy telescope, and together we step off the dock onto the pebbly sand, then climb the wooden beach steps toward the inn.

“Wait, Dad,” I say, grabbing his arm. “I left my moon journal at the fort this afternoon. Can I go get it? I really want to record this super blood moon. I need to.”

Dad looks at me with a mix of concern and uncertainty. He knows how much I love things that are predictable, and how amped up and anxious I get when something is left unfinished. Like once when I was little, I had to leave the last part of a puzzle undone because we had to get to an appointment, and I remember feeling itchy and upset the whole time. The way Mom tells it, I was crying so hard by the end that she almost got a speeding ticket driving me home.

I’m working on it, but it’s still really hard for me to let things go. Obsessive tendencies, the nice counselor at school calls it. I prefer particular and thorough.

That’s one of the reasons I love tracking and charting the phases of the moon. It goes through the same steps, month after month, always reaching toward one of two finish points: new or full. Documenting that predictability helps me feel calm. It’s an anchoring activity.

“Please, Dad. I have my flashlight. I’ve been back and forth to the fort a million times, and I know right where I left the journal. I’ll be home like five minutes after you.”

Dad shifts the heavy telescope and looks from me to the woods to the inn.

“Okay,” he says with a sigh. “But straight there and back. And watch your step. Things look different in the dark.”

About The Author

Darcy Johnson Photography

Nancy Tandon is a former teacher and speech/language pathologist who now writes for children full time. Her work has been awarded by the Shoreline Arts Alliance and New England Chapter of SCBWI.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Aladdin (August 2, 2022)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534486119
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 8 - 12
  • Lexile ® 730L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®
  • Fountas & Pinnell™ U These books have been officially leveled by using the F&P Text Level Gradient™ Leveling System

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Raves and Reviews

"This is a well-paced mystery with a strong sense of place and solidly developed, realistic relationships."

– Kirkus Reviews

"Urgent present-tense narration and abundant sensory details initially establish a skin-crawling atmosphere, but a realistic, friendship-centric feel soon dominates the tightly paced narrative, and the young investigators’ idealistic tenacity results in a supernaturally tinged mystery with a summer camp vibe."

– Publishers Weekly

Awards and Honors

  • Texas Bluebonnet Master List

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