A well-known children’s author aptly named Ignatius Grumply (I.B. Grumply, to be exact) ignites the story for us when he rents a house for the summer. A victim of writer’s block for almost twenty years, I.B. Grumply is bankrupt and under contract to write a new book–the 13th in his famous Ghost Tamer series–and needs a quiet place in which to finally accomplish this task.
Grumply instructs his lawyer to sign the rental agreement immediately; he doesn’t care about the details. But when Ignatius Grumply moves into his rental property at 43 Old Cemetery Road he discovers that part of his rental contract includes Seymour Hope (the 11-year-old son of the owners) and his cat, Shadow. Outraged, Grumply eventually discovers that in addition to Seymour and Shadow, the boy claims that Olive C. Spence–the woman who originally built the house over 100 years ago–is also in residence, although she is now a ghost.
The story is told through letters back and forth from Ignatius to his rental agent, his lawyer, Seymour and Olive herself. Newspaper clippings from the local paper (The Ghastly Times) help to fill in occasional details.
The book is a fun, quick read with extremely well-developed main characters (Ignatius, Seymour & Olive). The letter/newspaper format gives it a little of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid feel that today’s young readers are devouring. It is also bursting with humor and good-heartedness. My 8- and 9-year-old LOVED the plays on words that crisscross each other constantly throughout the narrative!
This will probably be a popular independent reading choice from the Lovelace nominees. Since I read it as a bedtime story with my kids I think it could work equally well as a relaxing read-aloud at home or in the classroom.