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Friday, April 8, 2016

The Key to Extraordinary, written by Natalie Lloyd. Scholastic, 2016. $20.99 ages 10 and up

"Birthdays are difficult days for missing people. Other days are that way, too, of course. Tuesdays, Fridays, Sunday afternoons. Holidays and school picture day and rainy days. There's at least a few lonely minutes hiding in every day, once you've said goodbye to someone you love. But birthdays are fierce. I closed my eyes and imagined my mom was there, lighting the candles on a giant pile of pancakes downstairs."

Emma Pearl comes from a long line of  'extraordinary' women. She knows her mother's and her grandmother's stories very well. Before she died, Emma's mother explained the Destiny Dream that has guided their ancestral women to a fulfilling life.  The Book of Days is filled with their stories and Emma is reading all of them.

Emma has been waiting for her dream ... and none too patiently. In fact, she could really use an immediate life-fulfilling destiny that has to do with riches, and she knows all about the treasure that is said to be buried in the graveyard that is right next to her family's business, The Boneyard Café.

Granny Blue, Emma's grandmother, is in dire need of some good luck ... as well as the cash needed to keep the business afloat. She is close to selling it to a local businessman because of her fear for her grandchildren and their future. Emma cannot imagine her town without the café in it, or the loss of her only home since her mama died. She will do what she can to save it, even if it means facing ghosts in an attempt to find the treasure said to be buried in Blackbird Hollow by the Conductor, a Civil War ghost.

"Now it was my turn to stare into the glowing jukebox so Blue wouldn't see the frustration - or the determination - on my face. I knew what I was meant to do: I had to figure out what my dearly departed ancestor Lily Kate Abernathy had to do with the Conductor so I could find the treasure and save the café. But there was no way I could do all that before Warren Steele's minions showed up. And I didn't like the thought of letting them march around in my graveyard without giving them a piece of my mind."

Time is running out. With help from her best friend Cody Belle and a former friend Earl Chance, Emma is determined to find the treasure, satisfy her destiny and save her family's home. Emma uses all that she knows about the past to bring focus to her search. Will the flowers of her confusing Destiny Dream help provide the answer she is seeking?

The characters are memorable, the setting perfect, and the action keeps readers turning pages. There is mystery. There is magic. It is a marvelous story, told with heart and hope.

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