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The Spirit of Cattail County

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  91 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Sparrow doesn't have many friends. Some kids believe her house near the swamp is haunted. Others think there's something "unusual" about her.

But Sparrow's not lonely--she has a best friend who's always with her. He sits with Sparrow on her porch swing. He makes her smile by playing pranks in church. Yet Sparrow is the only one who can see him . . . because the Boy is a gho
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Scholastic Press
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Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved it. Sparrow is a very real girl with very real issues, but nothing about her life is boring. The people and places of her community are true Southern characters and I was absolutely transported to Cattail County. As my plane pulled up to the gate, I had about 20 pages left to read, and I have never wanted my flight to be longer ever before! I simply had to finish it the moment I got home.
Ms. Yingling
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
ARC from ALA Midwinter

Good, creepy, Southern ghost story. Unfortunately, I have a number of those (many from Scholastic, actually) that don't get checked out very much. Considering.
You don't often read a children's book that starts out with a funeral/someone dying; that's pretty unusual, pretty fascinating (some might say "morbid"). I thought that it was a great plot device, and that the opening sentence totally caught my attention: "They buried Sparrow Dalton's mama the day the fortune-teller came." Wow.

Throughout this whole book, the atmosphere of the Swamp and the South kept me company; it was almost as much a character as the feuding families or the run-down house wher
Valerie McEnroe
There's the good and the not-so-good. First the good.

Piontek does a great job setting up the scene of a drab white house sitting on the edge of the swamp. It's the sweltering hot Florida Everglades and a small town with a flea market and long history. Three families own this history. The rich Monroes, the redneck Castos, and somewhere in the middle are the Daltons. Sparrow is a Dalton and her beloved mother has just died. She is left in the guardianship of her Aunt Geraldine who's as mean as a
After Sparrow Dalton's mother dies, she is left in the care of her maternal aunt, Geraldine, who seems determined to change everything about Sparrow. Not only does she try to rein in the free-spirited child and keep her from making friends, but she plans to sell the house, the only place Sparrow has ever called home. Sparrow is convinced that her best friend, a ghost, can help her mother come back. After all, the Boy, as she calls him, is always close by to keep her entertained and protected so ...more
I received an ARC from the publishing company in exchange for an honest review.

Sparrow has always been able to see Boy, a ghost who hangs around her house. After her mother dies from a long battle with cancer, she hopes that she will be able to see her mother as a spirit, as well. When that doesn’t happen, Sparrow tells Boy that she will help him if he helps bring Sparrow her mother’s ghost. Sparrow’s struggles with her mother’s death are worsened by her new guardian Aunt, who is super mean, wan
Shawna Busby
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had everything. Sparrow was dealing with the death of her mother, she didn't know who her father was, and the caste system of society was in play as well. She felt her aunt didn't like her and she had The Boy always with her. Deep South living with a ghost, fortune teller and historian. Definitely a quick read for me. Within this story you also learned about the Orphan Train which is very interesting. Sparrow learned the story about The Boy and almost fell victim to the same happenstan ...more
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a sweet story in the tradition of Clare VanderPool's MOON OVER MANIFEST or DiCamillo's RAYMIE NIGHTENGALE. Sparrow, a lonely girl who is haunted by spirits in a small Southern town finds some unlikely friends after the death of her mother. Along with Maeve and Johnny, she meets Elena, a young fortune-teller from a travelling flea market. The four of them try to help Sparrow connect with the spirit of her mother to save her from her new guardian, Auntie Geraldine who is selling Sparrow's ...more
Carolyn O'Doherty
This is a thoroughly engaging book with interesting, believable characters, and a story that keeps you turning the pages. Sparrow sees ghosts, but this isn't a ghost story, it's a story of loss and acceptance and finding your place in the world. Young readers are sure to relate to Sparrow's struggles and cheer her successes. The author tells a story which could be terribly sad but somehow isn't. Even though Sparrow's motivation is based on the loss of her mother, Sparrow herself moves through th ...more
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Attentively evokative of the hot and humid south, The Spirit of Cattail County follows Sparrow Dalton as she grapples with her only parent’s death. Sparrow has no friends in the prejudiced small town she lives in. Being different means going against the grain of the conservative townsfolk, and they don’t like her for it. Placed in care of an aunt who seems determined to change everything about the life Sparrow and her mother cherished, the lonely girl turns to her only reliable friend for help. ...more
Giselle Smith
This was a thoroughly enjoyable read from cover to cover. Victoria writes with ease and the descriptions of places, people and things create a wonderful scene in your mind as you read. Growing up in a small community with most of my friends being relatives, friends of relatives etc; this book brought back many fond memories of things that I did in my childhood related to what happens in the story. I loved the bit of fantasy and the dynamics between all the characters.

For recommending: no sweari
Katie Reilley
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good, southern middle grade mystery.

Sparrow’s life is not easy. She’s not like other kids, her mother’s just passed, and she’s left living with a cruel aunt who can’t wait to sell Sparrow’s home that’s been the family for generations. Oh, and the only friend she’s got is a ghost she calls Boy.

Enter two siblings who can’t seem to stay out of trouble and a child fortune teller who wants to help Sparrow solve the mystery of her ghost.

Though the story started slow, I was hooked and hoping for t
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a lovely story. Goodness I absolutely hate Auntie Geraldine and the way she treats Sparrow I really felt like punching her. And when she said "You're a child. You don't know what's best", wow I was so angry. Some adults really think they know what's best when they are just clueless!! However I'm glad she came back to her senses and finally really behave like a proper adult. I felt so sad about Sparrow desperately wanting to bring her Mama back (I would have felt and done the same if I were ...more
I enjoyed the Spirit of Cattail County which is middle grade Southern Gothic novel. Sparrow has recently lost her mother and is hoping the ghost that resides in her family home will help her mother return to visit her. Sparrow was a likable character but not fully fleshed out as was the case with all the characters in the book. The book had a bit of a reveal at the end so I’m hoping a second book will solve the mystery of the identity of Sparrow’s father. Good read but needed more meat to fill i ...more
Dironego Jabberwocky
La temática de los fantasmas, fuegos fatuos, espíritus y lecturas de tarot, aunque sí están siempre presentes a lo largo de las páginas, no son el eje central de la trama, sino que más bien son engranajes que hacen funcionar a los temas que la escritora quiso enfatizar: la familia, la amistad, la inclusión y exclusión social, las apariencias y aprender a dejar ir las cosas y aceptar las venideras.

"When you look at that boy, you don’t see a ghost. You see a friend. You’re like your mama. Seeing
What would you do to see your mother one more time after she died? Sparrow has always been able to communicate with Boy, a ghost. So when her mother passes on, she is certain she will be able to see her mother again as a spirit. If not, shouldn't Boy be able to pass on messages to Sparrow's mom?

But before Sparrow can make contact with others in the Spirit realm, she must solve Boy's mystery. Then she must come to terms with what she discovers.
McKenna Paul
Published 2018 by Scholastic
Novel, Fantasy
I didn't care for this novel after reading it. Though, I would still have it in my library because it may be the novel that inspires a student to love reading. In my opinion, the storyline could've been shortened, it seemed to run a little long and was hard to follow between what was real-life and what wasn't.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Got to read an advanced copy of this book and I REALLY loved it! It has a ghost, a fortune teller, a mysterious swamp and characters that feel just like friends. The writing is very beautiful and haunting. This is a book you get lost in and one you don't want to end!
Michael Kott
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jake-zoe
This book was a pleasant surprise. Very engaging characters and a great story. If you know middle schoolers I recommend this book. I think the author, Victoria Piontek, has a bright future. Her characters are well crafted and the story is well told.
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This intriguing mystery will keep you turning the pages! I loved the surprise history in this book about the orphan trains of the early 1900s. This would make a great Fall read aloud in grades 3 and up!
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely beautiful writing! Magical realism for middle school at it's finest. Ghosts, family, friends.... this book has a little bit of everything.
Gorgeous book! Review coming soon!
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
After her mother passes from illness, Sparrow asks her best friend—a ghost no one else can see—to send a message to her mom. He asks for something in return.
Nov 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: j-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written novel about love and loss that doesn't talk down to its young audience. My heart ached for Sparrow and I felt like shaking Aunt Geraldine. Loved the ending.
Oct 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: soyamrg
Adventurous plot that will be interesting to young readers, although slightly predictable and hokey at some points.
This Southern Gothic novel for a young audience hits just the right notes. It's chilling on a summer day, but still has heart. Sparrow Dalton is a protagonist to remember, and the Florida Everglades become a character all on their own. Sparrow's haunting friend has more substance than his ghostly form reveals, while the living citizens of Cattail County made my blood boil with their cruel dismissal of Sparrow. Not a ghost story, but a story with a ghost in it - and one with a nice twist at the e ...more
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Oct 15, 2018
Daniella McArthur
rated it it was amazing
Aug 05, 2018
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May 03, 2018
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Victoria Piontek spent her childhood on the east coast of Florida watching egrets wade through salt marshes and listening to her mother’s stories of strong Southern women, family secrets, and ghosts. The Spirit of Cattail County is her first novel.