Sunday, 7 October 2012

Ghost Buddy: Zero to Hero

Zero to Hero (Ghost Buddy) Zero to Hero (Ghost Buddy) by Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver (Scholastic UK)
PB RRP $9.99
ISBN 978-1-407132-28-0
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

There are many changes in eleven year old Billy’s life. He has a new stepfather, a new stepsister, a new school, a new bully to avoid and a new house with a new bedroom (lavender and pink with rainbows and ponies) which comes complete with a new/old ghost. Hoover is a teenaged ghost who has hung around for ninety-nine years trying to improve his grades in Helping Others, Invisibility (requires focus) and Responsibility. If these grades do not improve, he will be permanently grounded. Not an attractive prospect for a ghost.

So Billy now has a personal ghost to help him navigate the tricky parts of an almost twelve year-old's life. But this teenaged ghost with a major attitude problem and big plans may make Billy’s life even harder.

The book has a fabulous opening paragraph which is intriguing and sets a fun mood: “Billy Broccoli wasn’t getting out of the car. He had warned them.” The way in which everyone else reacts to this mini-rebellion establishes personalities right from the first page. It is a character driven story, populated by fun people with wonderfully appropriate names.

How can you not love a boy named Billy Broccoli? And the ghost, Hoover Porterhouse the Third, or The Hoove for short, who is never serious, always looking for the fun in life, and dragging Billy along in his wake of ideas. Billy’s stepsister, Breeze, is a teenager who wafts through life doing things on a whim, such as becoming a vegetarian for a day. Even the bully is a well rounded character. Rod Brownstone is as solid, brilliant and unmoving as a brick wall, keeps Siamese fighting fish as pets and sleeps with his blankey.

This is a light, amusing story about fitting in, standing up for yourself and making friends, with just a tiny bit of revenge thrown in. The bold bright cover art by Tony Ross is instantly appealing. It is fun to read, easy for younger readers with enough humour and plot for older readers as well. It should appeal to both boys and girls between the ages of eight and fourteen.

Look out for the sequel Ghost Buddy: Mind if I Read Your Mind?

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