Sunday, May 22, 2011

Arty -- Dying To Meet You by Kate and Sarah Klise

Ignatius B. Grumply (or I.B. Grumply) is a famous children's author who hates children. Digest that.

Now. Grumply needs to finish his new book, one in a long series of ghost stories for kids. But he's not inspired. So he rents a house in Ghastly, Illinois to get away from his publisher and recharge his batteries, so to speak.

The house he gets? The charming one portrayed in the picture to the left. It's the home of the Hopes - Les and Diane Hope, to be exact, and their son, Seymour. The Hope parents are famous paranormal investigators and have left Seymor at their house alone.

For Grumply to take care of. Oh - and did I mention the ghost of the unpublished author still living in the house, who happens to be friends with Seymour?

What follows is what might be called a 'graphic epistolary novel,' and a delightful one it is, too. I mean, look at the cover - how can a book with that lovely cover ever be bad? (I know, I know, don't judge a book by its cover... but still.) I just wish I could have found a bigger picture so you could really sink your visual teeth into it.

Enough about the cover. If you don't get out much, an epistolary novel is one that is told completely through letters and other sorts of communication (emails, instant messaging, business letters, etc.). A graphic novel is one with pictures. So we have a book about a grumpy old author, a lonely boy, and an unpublished ghost (Olive C. Spence), told through business communiqu├ęs, personal letters, and even ongoing conversations between Grumply and Olive on Grumply's word processor, all embellished with Seymour's pictures.

It's as adorable as it sounds. It's easily read - I finished it in about an hour - but it's not just another dumb kid's book. It's funny, it's clever (even if the premise isn't too original), and the interactions between Grumply, Olive, and Seymour are amazing - especially Olive and Grumply. I love bossy, take-charge ghosts, and Olive really gives it to old Grumply. I laughed out loud more than a few times.

Another highlight? The names. Every single name had a joke in it. I.B. Grumply. Olive C. Spence. Paige Turner (the publisher). M. Balm (a resident of Ghastly). Anita Sale (the real estate agent). It's hilarious! Maybe I was just in a good mood, but everything seemed so witty.

Maybe the business interactions aren't very businesslike - what do you want in a kid's book, the Wall Street Journal? Maybe the ending is a little too easy - it still makes you smile. Maybe it's not a perfect book - can you show me one? As far as I'm concerned, Dying To Meet You - the first book of the series 43 Old Cemetery Road - is a must-read.

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