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Ghost Buddy - Zero to HeroBilly Broccoli is starting middle school at the same school where his mother is the principal. As if that’s not bad enough, he’s also dealing with a new step-father, a bratty older step-sister, a new house—that’s really old–a new neighborhood away from his old friends.

What were the chances things could go that wrong? Apparently, a lot. Because they get worse.

His step-sister took the best room in their new-old house, leaving Billy with the lavender and pink bedroom. He soon discovers that the rainbow and pony wallpaper is the least of his worries, when a ghost materializes insisting it’s still his room, and that he’s Billy’s personal ghost.

You can see me because I’m your ghost. To everyone else, I’m invisible.”

“You’re not my ghost!  I never asked for a ghost. I asked for an iPod, I asked for my own cell phone, I asked for a red BMX bike with black trim. But never, on any list, at any time, anywhere, did I ever ask for a ghost,” said Billy.

“Lucky you. I show and you didn’t even have to ask. You hit the jackpot, ducky.

Hoover Porterhouse II is a fourteen year-old ghost—going on 114—with a tweaked sense of humor and a whole lot of attitude. So much ‘tude, he’s failed his celestial progress reports for 99 years. The thing is, if he doesn’t clean up his spirit-ual act fast, he’ll be haunting the same plot of ground for eternity. And the Hoove would rather die again than let that happen.

So when an obnoxious school bully sets out to trash Billy’s reputation, the Hoove swoops in with an action plan for revenge. The Hoove helps Billy find the courage to set things right, and the Billy shows the Hoove the honorable way to stand up to a bully. In the end, the Hoove’s grade in Helping Others shows improvement, Billy rules the school, and it all comes down to the Hoove’s Rule Number Forty-Two: Stay cool.

Wholesome Hilarity & A Lot More…

They had me at Ghost Buddy, and Zero to Hero clinched the deal. I had to read this book. Since I’ve already gushed written a lot about this story, I’ll keep this briefer. Here’s what makes this story special:

  1. The quirky characters: The cast of secondary characters are as quirkily fun as Billy and the Hoove. There’s the geeky dentist step-father with his “teeth ties”, the diva older step-sister with her own rock band, and the school-bully neighbor who has a secret you won’t believe.
  2. The family conflicts: The interactions between Billy, his mother, step-father, and step-sister all ring true. It’s easy to empathize with Billy and his adjustment to the new family dynamics and his new neighborhood, home, and school.
  3. The blast-from-the past culture clash: The colloquial language gap between the Hoove—who turned 14 ninety-nine years ago—and Billy adds an amusing layer of texture.
  4. The gender-neutral fun: Billy’s anxieties and dilemma’s will be as appealing to girls as they are boys. I bought this book for my eight year-old niece, and I know that she’ll love it.
  5. The lesson without a lecture: This story does an amazing job of addressing the topic of bullying—along with the appropriate way to stand up to a bully—with ease and grace.

Luckily, we don’t have to wait to find out what happens next…

About the Authors

Henry Winkler and Lin Olver are the New York Times Bestselling authors of the Hank Zipzer: The World’s Best Under-Achiever series.

Lin Oliver and Henry Winkler have accomplished some amazing things in their exceptional careers, but they’re most proud of the books they write for young readers.

They gave a workshop on Writing Humor at the recent Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Annual Summer Conference, that I’ll do a blog post on soon. Promise! In the mean time, you can read the Official LA13SCBWI conference blog here. [Photo by moi]