Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tales of Supernatural Friendship in Scholastic's "Ghost Buddy" Series

Our second grade daughter is a librarian's ideal child. She has a love of reading that sometimes borders on obsessive. For example, never did I think that as a mom I'd have to order my daughter to put her book down and eat her dinner. Or stop reading while walking so she doesn't hurt herself.

This has also resulted in her developing a reading ability far above her grade level. We can't keep up with her desire for new books to read. She likes fantasy and some mild science fiction, as long as it isn't too scary. So when Scholastic asked us to try out the new "Ghost Buddy" book series, I hoped the idea of a ghost as a main character wouldn't be too scary for her. 

The “Ghost Buddy” series focuses on two main characters. William C. “Billy” Broccoli, and his ghost friend Hoover Porterhouse III. Both boys have a series of problems. In Billy's case, it's that he is physically small and decidedly uncool. He has just moved into a new house with his mother (the principal at the local Junior High), his step-sister (the very popular 7th grader Breeze), and his step-father (Bennett, a dentist). He's starting sixth grade, has a room that is painted purple and lilac, and he has no idea how to make friends.

“Hoove,” as the ghost normally calls himself, is Billy's total opposite. He was 14, and is incredibly cool and stylish, without even trying. He's also been dead for 99 years, and that's where his problem comes in. In order to be able to move on outside the boundaries of his family's former ranchero, he has to pass his Ghost Report Card. He's managed passing grades on haunting skills and invisibility, and is easily passing personal hygiene, but his grades in “Responsibility” and “Helping Others” are abysmal. And if he can't get a passing grade from helping out Billy, he'll never move on.

The first book, Zero to Hero, focuses on Billy and Hoove's first meetings, and we are introduced to the core cast for the upcoming books. In addition to Billy, his family, and Hoove, we also meet Ruby Baker (Billy's presumed love interest), next-door-neighbor/law-enforcement enthusiast/bully Rod Brownstone, and cool kid and potential new best friend for Billy, Ricardo Perez. Hoove and Billy manage to forge an unlikely friendship as Hoove helps Billy defend himself from Rod's bullying and helps him earn some modicum of respect in his new school.

The second book, Mind if I Read Your Mind? centers around a public speaking competition at the school where Hoove sets Billy up to win by demonstrating his powers of mind-reading. Conflict arises when Billy spends more time paying attention to his mortal friends than Hoove, and Hoove ends up feeling unappreciated.

Both books are written with an easy, breezy style that will appeal to younger readers, although I think that some of the language may be on the edge of their vocabulary levels. Billy is a compelling protagonist, very much a Peter Parker-esque figure who nothing can go right for, and who most readers will see something of themselves in. And the Hoove is an irascible rogue whose heart is, ultimately, in the right place (shades of author Henry Winkler's old role as The Fonz, in fact).

As the series progresses (these are the only two books out so far), it is clear that Billy will continue to grow and evolve beyond needing Hoove's assistance, and Hoove will finally get his passing grade in Helping Others and Responsibility, and be granted his freedom to go and visit every baseball stadium in America.

The books are thoroughly fun, and quick reads and I think that Winkler and Lin Oliver have another successful series on their hands. I read both in a single afternoon, so the average grade-school kid should be able to manage them without too much difficulty.

Our second-grader read the first in a single day of bus trips to and from school. She likes the books, calling them "fun and cool, but a little creepy." We'll need to work on her review style, I think.

Win a set for yourself! (Or your kids!)

Want to give these books a try? I've got two sets of the first and second "Ghost Buddy" books to giveaway from Scholastic.

To enter: leave a comment below telling me your favorite childhood book. Please be sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you're the winner, too.

Entries will be accepted until 11:59pm ET Wednesday, September 26, 2012. One entry per person, US mailing addresses only. Two winners will be chosen at random after the giveaway closes. Winners must respond within 48 hours or alternate winners will be selected.

Good luck!

Full disclosure: I was provided with a copy of each of these books from Scholastic to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own, and those of my daughter, who thinks that having a ghost for a friend is just a little odd.


rebeccaeee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rebeccaeee said...

And oops- my favorite book as a kid was "Island of the Blue Dolphins" by Scott O'Dell. Read that sucker over and over and over again. Now the idea of being stranded on a deserted island has a charm all its own, particularly if I get to wear a skirt made of cormorant feathers like the gal in the book!

Jenna said...

My favorite childhood book was The Secret Garden. I have a collector's edition that I reread once a year!

Karianna said...

One of my favorite childhood books was "Maggie Adams, Dancer" I wrote to the author (Karen Strickler Dean) and she wrote me back! We were pen-pals for awhile, which was really really cool.

Another book I adored was about a boy who became blind in a firecracker accident. I don't remember the title. What is strange is that I typically wouldn't pull a book like that for my kids since I'd think it would be too much of a "downer" and yet I picked it myself when I was young. Funny how that happens.

My youngest just started reading a historical fiction novel with a ghost in it, so I bet he'd love the Ghost Buddy series!

Angie said...

My mom had this collection of Grimm's fairy tales from when she was a kid. The real ones, the actual stories not the ones that have been doctored up now. We used to love picking fairy tales out of the book for her to read to us

angiewith3 at live dot com

Robert Pyatt said...

Although aimed at a little older audience than the "Ghost Buddy" series, I loved Loyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series. I can remember reading the last book in the series in class and tearing up when a character we all thought was dead returned. It's a wonderful fantasy series that will always remind me of being young. I still have my copies and I can't wait to read them with my kids.

Erin said...

I have entirely too many favorite childhood books to be able to pick just one. I loved the Nancy Drew series, the Anne of Green Gables series, Let The Circle Be Unbroken, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Secret Garden, The Little House series... One of my most favorites for kids roughly my age is Who's A Pest by Crosby Bonsall (

I can't wait for my kids to be old enough to enjoy all of those books and so many more.

Kim C. said...

My daughters favorite book is "The Giving Tree", she loves all the poems
xxkimhcxx at gmail dot com