Can Linc hope for anything near a normal life when his widowed mother is an absent-minded professor specializing in burial customs?
Twelve-year-old Lincoln Raintree Crenshaw Junior knows it will be a difficult transition when he transfers to public school from "Home-Away-From-Home-School" (several faculty childrenâ€”Ho-Hosâ€”taught together in Dr. Lindstrom's basement). He didn't know his first official field trip would be to the Oakland Cemetery, which is literally in his backyard...or that his mother, Dr. Charlotte Landers, would be the one leading the tour. He convinces her to pretend he's just another student, but of course that goes horribly wrong.ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â In an attempt to be cool, he decides he'll use the supposedly cursed Black Angel monument for his adopt-a-grave research project. Instead of cool he gets a heap of trouble from the new cemetery "warden," Mr. Kilgore, and a mysterious connection, through his father, to a grave adopted by another new student. Ray's tale, which centers around a real legend, strikes the perfect balance of humor, realistic chills and near-teen angst. Linc's problems with his eccentric mother, their shared grief over his father's unexpected death and Linc's trials at school are expertly woven into the dual mysteries: the real story of the Black Angel and a secret from his father's past.Actual epitaphs from across the globe kick off each chapter for extra funereal fun. (Mystery. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Gr 5-7--Iowa City's Oakland Cemetery and legends about its Black Angel monument feature strongly in this suspenseful though warmhearted tale of family intrigue. Linc Raintree Crenshaw and his vaguely eccentric mom, Lottie Landers, a professor who studies burial customs, live in a house bordering the cemetery. Linc is stressed about starting junior high after having attended the small, private Home-Away-From-Home School, and Lottie seems unable to talk about her husband, whose sudden death soon after they moved to Iowa City has left Linc with unanswered questions. An Adopt-a-Grave assignment lands Linc in a fine mess when he steals a key to a crypt to impress the guys at school. His changing relationships with a diverse cast of interesting characters are central: old friend and cemetery handyman Jeeter; new, almost cartoonishly uncivil cemetery warden Kilgore; former classmate Mellecker, now a seventh-grade big wheel who surprises Linc with his friendship; the mysterious woman who visits the Raintree gravesite each Monday; elderly neighbor Mr. Krasny, who helps Linc translate the strange epitaph on the base of the Black Angel; and new girl Delaney, who has an adventurous spirit and great concern for her pregnant mother, who lost her last baby. Additional poignancy arises from discovering the facts of Linc's dad's birth. The satisfying resolution occurs when Delaney and Linc present their reports in situ-at the cemetery. Epitaphs are used as chapter epigraphs, and an author's note delineates fact from fiction.--Joel Shoemaker, formerly at South East Junior High School, Iowa City, IA[Page 168]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.