Freddie vs. The Family Curse

 
4.5 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
296 0
Freddie vs. The Family Curse
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
8+
Release Date
May 03, 2022
ISBN
978-0358612896
Buy This Book
      
Freddie Ruiz is cursed.

While other people may have bad days, Freddie and his family have had bad generations: from bird poop splatting on him during picture day to the many tumbles and trips that earned him the nickname Faceplant Freddie. He’s learned to lay low and keep himself out of trouble—which means no fun, no friends, and definitely no risks.

But when he discovers a family heirloom, a century-old amulet from the Philippines that’s supposed to bring good fortune, Freddie thinks his luck is finally about to change.

He couldn’t be more wrong. Because the spirit of Freddie’s cranky great-granduncle Ramon is trapped in the heirloom, and the evil spirits responsible for his death have returned with a vengeance. Now, Freddie and his cousin, Sharkey, have thirteen days to break the curse, or Freddie will join Ramon for an untimely afterlife in the amulet.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Interesting way to address family history
(Updated: June 01, 2022)
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Freddie Ruiz has always had bad luck; it's why he is called "Faceplant Freddie". He keeps his head down, moves carefully, and limits his interests to RoboWarriors gaming cards. His great grandmother, Apong Rosing, tells him it is because of a family curse that occurred back during World War II, when she lived in the Philippines and her older brother, Ramon, became a soldier and was killed in battle. His cousin, Sharkey, lives next door, and since she is a Mendoza, she has perfectly fine luck, and is an excellent break dancer who works with the Wyld Beats dance crew at their school. When Freddie finds an amulet in the garage while looking for glue for a school project (he's run out; that's how his luck goes!), he is surprised when it comes to life and holds the spirit of his great uncle Ramon! He finds out that Ramon stole the amulet for luck from his best friend, Ingo Agustin, before going on the mission during which he was killed, and that the family has suffered under Agustin's curse. Freddie has 13 days to find Ingo and have him remove the curse or the spirits will kill him! He and Sharkey try to research, but it's hard to find a 97 year old former soldier who may or may not have survived the war! Luckily, they track him down in Nevada, which is a bit too far from their San Diego home to take an Uber when he refuses to talk to them. Sharkey is supposed to compete in a break dancing competition in Las Vegas, but when she sprains her ankle due to Freddie's bad luck, the two decide that Freddie will take her place so they can travel there and stay in a hotel thanks to Wyld Beats sponsorship. The leader of the team, Dale, is very apprehensive, but Freddie works hard and doesn't do too badly, and challenges Dale to a RoboWarriors match to seal his place on the team. Apong Rosing decides she wants to go to the competition as well, and they are soon on their way. Time is of the essence, since the evil spirits are closing in, and the children manage to make it by bus to the Oasis nursing home where Ingo lives. They must create a distraction when the staff won't let them see Ingo, and this involves breakdancing which actually sets a few things on fire! Will they be able to find Ingo and discover the true nature of the curse, and get him to remove it?
Good Points
This was the perfect balance of a lot of things. It had some social issues, since Freddie has some anxiety about his constant embarrassment. There's the cultural connection with a rich background of Filipino history and family traditions. There's even a little WWII history with the Bataan Death March. The inclusion of breakdancing was absolutely perfect, since break dancing is going to be included as a sport in the 2024 Olympics. Combine all of these things with funny scenes, a road trip, and a thread of self acceptance and personal growth, and this is an absolute winner. The short length helps, and the cover looks fun. There are a huge number of students to whom I can hand this. Definitely worthy of a Kirkus starred review.

This was such a huge relief to read after ingesting a large number of lyrical, socially relevant, timely stories. It's possible to address these needs and include cultural content while still having a book that is a bit more light hearted and positive. After all, the information about the Filipino involvement in World War II is pretty dire, but it's handled in such an interesting and (dare I say it?) sweet way that what I took away from this was Ingo's spirit of forgiveness and the Ruiz's determination to move on after tragedy. Definitely my favorite book this month.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 0 0
Life is full of good and bad.
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
As the title indicates, Freddie’s family has been cursed with bad luck for generations. Most of the bad luck is simply annoying, as he runs out of glue while completing a last-minute project, breaks a printer, arrives late to class, and trips and falls flat on his face. Freddie thinks his luck may change when he finds an amulet hidden away in the garage, but the opposite is true. He activates a family curse and now has thirteen days before he dies unless he can figure out a way to stop the countdown. The story will keep readers guessing since bad luck can pop up at any time.
The amulet contains the spirit of Freddie’s great-granduncle, Ramon, and he behaves like many friendly ghosts found in other stories. He died during WW II in the Philippines and hasn’t interacted with the living for many years. He understands enough of the modern world to misinterpret situations and add humor to the book. He spends much of his time teasing Freddie before switching around to instill him with hope. Freddie’s unfortunate accidents beg the question of is this bad luck, or is it the ups and downs of everybody’s lives?
The plot becomes a mystery, as Freddie and his cousin Sharkey try to figure out a way to end the curse. Ramon is able to share some Filipino history and culture, and he finally reveals a secret that will be very helpful in Freddie’s search. Sharkey is a star on a competitive dance team, and it seems to be an unimportant side story. However, a regional tournament is coming up, and it becomes a catalyst for resolving the family jinx. It’s an unexpected twist to a middle-grade ghost mystery.
What didn’t work as well:
The imminence of Freddie’s death creates tension as the thirteen days go by, but not knowing the cause of his death leaves the foreshadowing vague. The evil spirits aren’t characters in the story, so it’s more difficult to see them as threats. Of course, it’s impossible to guess future bad luck, but having a tangible danger to consider might increase the suspense.
The Final Verdict:
Life is full of good and bad. The blend of Filipino culture, ghosts, and humor make this a very entertaining book. The countdown of the curse makes the story suspenseful while the climax brings the events to a happy ending. I recommend you give this book a shot.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 1 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account