Black Sand Beach: Are You Afraid of the Light?

Pixel+Ink. (Black Sand Beach: Bk. 1). May 2020. 192p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781645950004; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781645950028.
Gr 3-5–A boring summer at the beach turns into a chilling otherworldly adventure. Dash and his friend Lily head to Black Sand Beach, where Dash’s family owns a cabin. Dash is less than thrilled, but Lily thinks the house and eccentric family members are great, especially spirited cousin Andy and prankster Aunt Lynne. When Dash hears voices calling his name and sees a light in the long abandoned lighthouse, he, Lily, and cousins Andy and Eleanor head out to investigate. When they arrive, they become trapped inside the lighthouse and an ocean full of shipwrecked ghosts appears. Mysterious happenings continue when the neighbors need to run their cows (which are in fact paranormal creatures—though everyone but Lily is oblivious to that fact) through the family’s land. The multiple story lines don’t all tie up perfectly, but the cliff-hanger ending is sure to have readers eagerly awaiting the next installment of the series. Fairgray’s bulgy-eyed cartoons are appealing, and his story and his artwork, relying on a palette of grays, blues, and purples, both strike the perfect note: creepy fun tempered by plenty of silliness.
VERDICT Fans of Kier Graff’s The Matchstick Castle and Ben Hatke’s “Zita the Spacegirl” will adore this spooky series starter.

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