The Ojja-Wojja

Harper-Collins/Balzer + Bray. Mar. 2023. 192p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780062852397. pap. $13.99. ISBN 9780062852427.
Gr 5 Up–It’s hard for Val and Lanie to fit in with most of the kids in the town of Bolingbroke. Luckily, they’re friends with a small group of fellow outsiders who all deal with similar problems, such as Andrea, a popular and powerful girl who makes their lives miserable. When Val’s teacher gives her permission to do a project about the supernatural history of their town, she thinks this will be a great opportunity to partner with Lanie, who loves magic. But when the girls take their exploring too far, they go from seeing one ghost to accidentally summoning a dangerous being called the Ojja-Wojja, which has caused trouble in Bolingbroke for many years. Val and Lanie soon learn the Ojja-Wojja is not only dangerous, but it also has the power to turn the whole town against them. This fast-paced story takes readers on a roller coaster adventure, as the mood alternates between funny, suspenseful, sarcastic, scary, and emotional. Readers will empathize with this group of kids who are outsiders for a variety of reasons (LGBTQIA+, autistic, socially awkward) as they deal with bullying and paranormal problems. The artwork is striking throughout the story; the colors get darker and creepier as the story goes on, saturating the pages, matching the darkening mood of the story.
VERDICT For older kids and younger teens who enjoy school and friendship stories, as well as paranormal stories with plenty of suspense.

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