Kate Kliseís series 43 Old Cemetery Road is a fast-paced story about a boy who likes to draw, a man who writes childrenís books, and a ghostly author who refuses to leave her house until she publishes a novel.
Seymour Hope lives in the Spence Mansion owned by his parents located at 43 Old Cemetery Road, Ghastly, Illinois. His parents are traveling on a European lecture tour for the summer to promote their book about the fact that ghosts do not exist. They have placed their house up for sale but are willing to rent it for the summer with the caveat that whoever rents the house also is caretaker for Seymour and his cat, Shadow.
Olive Spence, the former owner of Spence Mansion, and Seymour are friends. Olive has been dead for 190 years and most of the time is invisible although she can be heard banging around in the cupola of the house at 43 Old Cemetery Road. She is not tied to only haunting the house she used to own, but also freely borrows books at the public library (without a card, but she always returns them) and breakfasts at the local diner to hear the gossip.
Ignatius Grumply, the childrenís book author, has had a severe case of writerís block for decades. In a last ditch attempt to reconstitute his writing career, he rents the Spence Mansion for the summer and unknowingly, Seymour and the cat. What seemed at first like a perfect solution to his writerís block soon becomes problematic when he realizes he has unwanted guests in Seymour, Shadow, and Olive.
Will Seymourís parents ever come back to get him? If the house is sold, where will Seymour and Shadow go then? Will Olive ever publish any of her manuscripts so she can stop haunting the mansion? Will Ignatius come to grips with his houseguests and get his book written at last? Answers to these questions and more await the readers in this fun, fast-paced series.
What makes this series so fun to read is that the reader is drawn right into the action of the plot as soon as the story opens. Rather than focusing on a text-based narrative, the books are all told through a series of letters and newspaper accounts. Different voices of the three main characters are seen through font changes in the letters. In addition, the writing is loaded with puns and clever character names which could be tiresome except that they are done very cleverly in this series.
The authorís intent with these books is pure entertainment. The exterior focused storyline loaded with action makes it a great story for boys as well as girls. The characters act their way through the story as opposed to thinking their way through, making for a fast paced story. If I were to choose three words to describe these books, I would choose fun, engaging and clever.
Main theme: families come in all shapes and sizes.
Nonfiction pairings: books that might pique the interest of readers of this fiction series are those that detail what itís like to be an author or illustrator; real life haunted mansions and ghostly encounters.