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Ghost: Track, Book 1
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ghost, written by Coretta Scott King Honor author Jason Reynolds (The Boy in the Black Suit) is a story about overcoming tragedy and finding where you belong. The first of Reynolds' middle grade Track series, it includes themes of bullying and abuse, and parents should be ready to discuss alcoholism, nonviolent ways to stand up to bullying, pursuing things you're passionate about, and finding reliable mentors.There are two major incidents of violence (a shooting where no one's hurt, and a fight between two boys) but they're not gory or excessive.
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What's the story?
GHOST is Castle Cranshaw's new nickname -- he gave it to himself and it sticks when he challenges a track team's best sprinter to a race. Running is as easy for him as breathing, probably because he's been doing it all his life. An emerging track star with a past, Ghost has to figure out why he runs -- is it toward what his life could be or away from his past? Luckily, he has new friends on the team, his coach, and even his mom to help him figure it all out.
Is it any good?
Another poignant, engaging, exciting novel that combines middle school, sports, and life lessons from Coretta Scott King Honor author Jason Reynolds. Ghost is the kind of story readers carve out time for because they won't want to put it down. Students and parents alike will easily identify with Castle as he navigates middle school with heavy adult concerns on his shoulders. Even though he comes across as tough, Castle is highly observant and sensitive to the personalities and circumstances around him, which can lead to him becoming overwhelmed by situations he faces throughout the book. His learning how to focus and channel those emotions is a large part of what makes the story successful.
Two things that stand out in addition to Castle's wit and acute understanding of human nature: the multiple opportunities he has for mentorship and the positive peer pressure he gets from all sides as he moves to outrun his anger and the ghosts of his past. This makes the relationships and story that much more dynamic and rich.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how in Ghost the main character publicly apologizes for a crime, even though it's hard. Can you think of any recent media stories where athletes had to apologize for making poor decisions? What made them feel genuine or staged? What are the elements of a real apology?
At first Ghost and his teammates compete with animosity, but once they bond, they learn to root for one another. How do you display good sportsmanship?
Outside of family, who's your favorite adult to go to for guidance and a listening ear?
- Author: Jason Reynolds
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Great Boy Role Models, Middle School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
- Publication date: August 30, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 18
- Number of pages: 192
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.