Ben Y and the Ghost in the Machine
The Kids Under the Stairs
by K.A. Holt
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 28 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 28 Sep 2021
Ben Y’s just about had it with school. Every corner she turns, she’s being called “Benita,” getting Dress Coded by Mr. Mann for some supposedly inappropriate item of clothing, or running into the ineffable, inescapable, indefinable Ace—who makes her feel weird, weirdly seen, and strangely at peace, all at once. Even her best buds—Ben B, Jordan J, and Javier; the kids under the stairs—are all far too content following the rules and making their school newspaper under the attentive direction of their beloved teacher, Ms. J.
And home’s no better. Last year, Ben Y’s older brother died, and the family is still learning how to cope—if you count coming home to cry at lunch, hogging Benito’s bedroom to run a friendship bracelet empire, or typing obsessively into a chatroom Benito no longer exists in. But when Benito suddenly starts typing back—Ben Y must act. But happens when those very actions make Ben Y’s deepest secrets impossible to hide?
Readers will easily identify with the variety of funny, authentic lovable characters—not to mention the emphasis on a Minecraft-like game and fun visuals like online chats and doodles. Parents, kids, and educators and librarians alike will love the way the book celebrates all the different ways to be smart—and all the different ways it’s hard to be a kid.
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Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 5 members
Another great addition to the "Kids Under the Stairs" series by K.A. Holt. Holt has been and continues to be one of my go to authors for my middle school library crowd of readers and nonreaders alike. She has appealing and relatable characters with solid "I've been there and I feel your pain" middle school plots. "The Kids Under the Stairs" series is particularly wonderful because it combines these literary elements with the lure of white space and illustration. AND it's a series...so it makes it comfortable for the students to easily relax into the familiar characters and setting. Finding your way through dress coding, identity issues, betrayal, and grief are all addressed well in "Ben Y and the Ghost in the Machine."
I have grown to love The Kids Under the Stairs. There is something about these kids that draws me in each time. Their personal struggles, what brings them together, a teacher that truly understands them and watches out for them, all of the story lines are just fantastic. In this "episode" Ben Y is dealing with the loss of his brother, figuring who they want to be, friendships and so much more. I love the introduction of Ace and how kids would really handle that and how dealing with grief makes not only you feel, but how it impacts those around you. K.A. Holt is an incredible middl grade writer who understands and writes this age really well
Ben Y, Benita Ybarra, come to you in the sequel of last years BenBee and the Teacher Griefer through the eyes of Ben Y’s story. Ben Y is grieving the loss of her older bother’s death and still tries to connect with him by sending him coded messages through a game that he invented. Ben Y starts finding herself in real time looking more towards this new kid, Ace, who seems to call all the attention to hisself by breaking the rules and somehow not caring at all what anyone thinks. Ben Y starts to make some serious changes to herself by trying to develop this outlook on life that Ace has, and then someone starts to respond to her through her thread with her brother - the thread where she has told everything to over the time she has lost her brother, all.her.secrets…. K.A. Holt is a big time favorite in the middle school world. I can’t wait to see their reaction to book 2. Holt created characters that are relatable and with middle school - that is HUGE.
"The Kids Under the Stairs" have a special place in my heart, and I was so glad to return to this series with Ben Y's story. In this sequel, the school year has started, and Ben Y. struggles to work through grief over her brother's death and navigate middle school, where they don't fit in. K. A. Holt draws readers in with her beautiful writing and relatable characters. She is one of the most popular authors in my classroom, and I cannot wait to add this to our room.
In this novel-in-verse, second in a series, Ben Y is dealing with a lot- the loss of her brother, being called Benita , being dress coded by a mean vice principal, and running into Ace who makes her feel like she’s not alone. Then Ben Y’s brother starts chatting (how is this possible?) with Ben Y through sandbox, a Minecraft-type game, Ben vents her many frustrations. In the newspaper typing club, a wonderful teacher, Ms. J, supports all divergent thinkers, and Ben Y is glad because last summer Ben Y learned that divergent thinking is a thing to be proud of. As secrets unfold, Ben Y finds that’s everyone deserves equal treatment-“ no mater what they look like or the pronouns they use.”