Thank you to Scholastic, Ash Van Otterloo, and #BookAllies for sharing an Advance Reader Copy of A TOUCH OF RUCKUS – one of kidlit’s newest #SpookyMG treasures.

Twelve-year-old Tennessee (Tennie) Lancaster is staying with her Mimsy (grandmother) while her always-in-transition parents “settle into a new house”. But even without having to pretend Mom’s depression and Dad’s financial/job problems don’t exist, Tennie has a major issue: She can pick up on the memories of haunted objects by touching them. And her powers are so strong, that all objects are haunted…

Tennie quickly teams up with new clairaudient friend Fox (pronouns: they/them), who probably isn’t telling Tennie everything about their interests in ghost hunting. But the ghosts are growing stronger, and Tennie’s family problems are coming to a head.

And the ghosts and Tennie’s family are more intertwined than either she or Fox could have imagined.

It’s good to see Appalachia get some love. Despite its bad rap, my multi-racial family has always been treated respectfully while visiting family there; and the area is an endless source of the most amazing folklore.


  • So many things – the very sweet “are we friends or more” tension between Tennie and Fox is adorable. If the two did go on to be An Item, it would be a first love rooted in compassion, friendship, and hilarious repartee;
  • Solid representation of neurodiversity and a child grieving the loss of their sibling (both describe Fox). They explain their current state in a way that makes this adult envious.
    • Both kids make peace with their recent losses – Fox of their sister; and Tennie of her grandfather – in a way that is just enough.
  • Compassionate representation of Tennie’s mom’s and brother’s depression with a quick, age-appropriate, scientific explanation for the issue (now to make adults get it…)
    • Despite the adults’ problems, they get on a path to straightening themselves out, explaining outright to Tennie that she carries too much of their load. If only adults were that straightforward in real life…
  • The character education about telling yourself and others the truth and being a good friend; as well as the environmental lessons, are subtle enough to drive the point firmly home.

So the above is… a lot of representation; and may be a lot of diversity education for a Middle Grade reader. However, none of these intersectional identities are central to the story, and we need that too.


  • None – The ghosts get creepy, but if things that go bump in the night bother your child, you wouldn’t be giving them this book in the first place.


This had the potential to be a very dark story or scary book, but instead is an “all the feels, creative, just-one-more-chapter” shining addition to the #SpookyMG canon.

A TOUCH OF RUCKUS is available now from Scholastic.

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