Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I read The Ghost's Grave because it was recommended to me by an elementary school kid at a baseball game. We were busily exchanging favorite books when I noticed this one because my son had enjoyed some other books by the author, Peg Kehret. So a few weeks after the game (the Mariners won, in case you were worried) I hunted up the book.
I liked the light imprint of the main character, who narrates the story. He's a good kid, who doesn't like having his plans upended but doesn't act out on innocent bystanders to show his frustration. He automatically offers to wash the dishes after his great-aunt cooks. He likes stray cats (Kehret likes cats -- I think they show up in a lot of her books). But it's easy to put yourself in his place because he doesn't let his personality dominate his story. The plot is a good mix of realism and wackiness and a bit of magic and danger. Being sent to a distant relative for summer vacation is something many kids could identify with; having that distant relation shoot bats in the house and talk to a peacock is believable but unlikely, and meeting a (friendly) ghost and a (not so friendly) bank robber moves the story into the thrill-seeking, not-in-my-backyard-but-it's-fun-to-imagine dimension.
I give the book a solid B, and recommend it for second-fifth graders. I might share-read it with the younger crowd, depending on how strong their reading was, but I can easily see reading a chapter out loud and then letting the kid read ahead.