GILDA JOYCE, PSYCHIC INVESTIGATOR; GILDA JOYCE AND THE LADIES OF THE LAKE; GILDA JOYCE: THE GHOST SONATA, by Jennifer Allison, Puffin Books, $15.99; ages 9-12.
Gilda is a psychic investigator who hunts ghosts. Ghost hunting became her way of coping when her dad died.
These stories are written in a way that we get to know what Gilda is thinking. In the first book, Gilda visits relatives in San Francisco and finds a ghost in the tower of their Victorian mansion. In book two, Gilda goes to a new school and solves a 3-year-old ghost story about the girl who drowned in the lake. In book three, Gilda goes with her best friend, Wendy, to a piano competition in London where Gilda finds love and another ghost mystery.
Gilda is zany, clever, funny and very likable.
NIGHTMARE ACADEMY, by Dean Lorey, HarperCollins, $16.99; ages 10-12.
It is hard to make friends when your nightmares allow horrible monsters into the world.
Charlie is trapped in his house. His mother decided he needed protection and home schooling after an afternoon nap at school turned into a nightmare, literally. The classroom was destroyed, the kids were scared and everyone blamed Charlie. Luckily for Charlie, help arrived in the form of nethermancers and banishers. Charlie learns there is a school for him after all, the Nightmare Academy. Here he learns how to control his dreams and fight the monsters who invade his sleep.
According to Charlie, the monsters in the closet and under the bed are real. But don't worry, Charlie is learning how to save you.
SHE'S A WITCH GIRL, by Kelly McClymer, Simon Pulse, $8.99 paperback; ages 11-13.
Pru, short for Prudence, is a witch. Her mother is a witch and her dad is a mortal. When her parents decide it's time for a witch education, they enroll her in Agatha's Day School for Witches. There Pru does her best to catch up with her witch studies while proving to her cheerleading squad she knows what it takes to win at Nationals.
The other books in this series are: Competition's a Witch and The Salem Witch Tryouts.
ULYSSES MOORE: THE DOOR TO TIME AND THE LONG-LOST MAP, by Michael Merryweather, Scholastic Inc., $12.99; ages 9-12.
Eleven-year-old twins, Jason and Julia, and their parents move from London to old Argo Manor on the British coast. The house's strange old caretaker, Lester, abides by the previous owner's wishes, keeping the house exactly as Ulysses Moore left it.
An afternoon of exploring becomes an adventure of a lifetime when Julia, Jason and their new friend, Rick, discover clues, keys, a secret door, hidden passageways and much more. In the second book, they discover a ship, take a trip to ancient Egypt and end up inside a pyramid.
The end of the book leaves us with the promise of many more adventures to come.
GIVING UP THE GHOST, by Sheri Sinykin, Peachtree Publishers, $14.95; ages 12 and up.
Davia keeps a list of the things that scare her. Death, ghosts, snakes, the dark, alligators and her mother's cancer coming back are just a few of the things on her list.
While in Louisiana to help take care of her mother's dying aunt, Aunt Mari tells Davia all about the plantation's history, her family history and about all the people who lived there, including Emelie, who died when she was 13 in 1853. According to Aunt Mari, Emelie is haunting the house. She asks Davia to befriend Emelie to find out why she is so angry and to help her find peace. Aunt Mari says she won't rest in peace until Emelie does.
Can Davia face her fears and grant the wish of a dying old woman?
Sandi Pedersen is the mom of four and the Web mistress for Chicago Parent.
See more of Sandi's stories here.