Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Dying to Meet You
I was visiting the local public library recently, and I found a book I had heard about from 100 Scope Notes (his review is hysterical and worth the read!!) -- Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road by Kate Klise. Because I tend to enjoy the books he recommends, I put it my pile to go home. It didn't disappoint.
Dying to Meet You appears to be the first in a new series written by Kate Klise and illustrated by M. Sarah Klise. As I read it, I couldn't help but appreciate how it is organized to help a 5th grade reader that needs some more support. The front end pages are a cut-away diagram of the house in the story with the rooms labeled in a more map-like way on the other side. Right after that, the reader is introduced to all the characters before reading, with brief descriptions of each.
I'm going to digress for a moment, and say that the names alone are a hoot!!! Anita Sale is a real estate agent. Paige Turner is the publisher of children's books. E. Gadds is a lawyer. Seymour Hope is the child who is one of the main characters. Frank N. Beans is a private investigator. Professors Les and Diane Hope are Seymour's parents. Olive C. Spense is the house's resident ghost, and another main character. If you're not already laughing at this play on words, you probably have a more mature sense of humor than mine. :) Luckily, I think kids will think it's funny.
Back to the supports: the entire story is told through letters, drafts of another main character's (Ignatius B. Grumply) next book, and the local newspaper articles. The difference in font and size for each letter is bound to hold a reader's attention. Add in some great illustrations that emphasize the humor, and you have a very appealing book to children!
The premise of the story is that Seymour (young boy) and Olive (ghost) are living in a large run-down mansion by themselves. Seymour's parents are abroad giving lectures about how ghosts are NOT real, and Ignatius (author) is getting ready to rent the house for a while to try and write his next children's book.
Ignatius is very grumpy and has a bad case of writer's block. When he discovers a young boy living on the 3rd floor of the house he has rented, he throws a fit, and writes to both Anita (realtor) and E. Gadds (attorney) in an effort to get out of his rental contract. With Olive playing practical jokes on him as well, things get pretty uncomfortable.
After enjoying this book so much, and having a few belly laughs along the way, I am so glad that Dying to Meet You is only the first time we will meet these quirky characters. I think the setting and the characters are ones that my students will want to come back and revisit time and time again as the series continues.