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Reviewed by Melinda Hills for Readers' Favorite
Hoot Hart is a 12-year-old boy who enjoys exploring the woods and open lands around his home out in the country in The Ghost of Saddle Mountain by Fred Whitman. Not part of any group at school, Hoot is at home in nature and loves to research everything he encounters. His excitement at discovering new things takes on a whole new meaning when a spirit speaks to Hoot and asks for his help. The Ghost of Saddle Mountain details the events of over a span of 100 years in the small California town of Miners Glen. In the late 1800s, gypsies lived in the clearing where Hoot hears the voice of the spirit, but they left after someone from town burned down their camp, killing one of the men. It is Hoot’s job to find out who the dead man was and to learn about himself in the process. Will his know-it-all older sister let people think he is really an idiot, or will the school bully take care of Hoot’s curiosity? With help from his grandfather and his friends, who had a somewhat successful rock band back in the '60s and '70s, and the support of his mother and, reluctantly, his sister, Hoot embarks on the greatest investigation he will ever undertake and what he discovers is absolutely amazing.
Fred Whitman has created a truly remarkable book that incorporates plenty of action, emotion and paranormal activity while promoting free thinking, having interests outside of the stereotypical, and developing a love for family history as well as current relationships. This is an amazing book that should excite even the most reluctant reader! I'm well past grade school and loved every page. The mystery, family dynamics, history and interaction of all the elements make for the perfect blend. Well done! The Ghost of Saddle Mountain is extremely well written with lots of background on the San Francisco music scene and the plight of the Roma, and truly highlights the struggle to follow one’s dreams.