How To Scare The Pants Off Your Pets (Ghost Buddy) by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
|How To Scare The Pants Off Your Pets (Ghost Buddy) by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A disappointing entry to this series with the boy tormented by a friendly ghost's ego. The lack of focus on school life in favour of various animal antics does not endear itself.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 192||Date: February 2013|
Billy is the only person who can see the ghost of Hoover Porterhouse the Third that he shares a bedroom with. While nobody else knows about the phantom's existence, Billy certainly knows about his character – his arrant braggadocio and the many self-serving rules he demands he lives his afterlife by. The problem is that that same lack of respect and responsibility is what is keeping Hoover in Billy's life and not moving on, and his attitude is so bad he's been grounded by the Higher-Ups in charge of such things. Billy's not one to live with an annoyance like that, though, and decides to prove the Hoove can be responsible – and caring for a pet should be the obvious proof with which to start…
It's a pity that this third entry to the series blows all goodwill and hopes for it I got from the last volume I read, the successfully tied-to-a-part-of-school-life Mind If I Read Your Mind?. The mixed household, of Billy and his mother, step-dad and step-sister and ghost mean far too many pages of boring bickering before anything happens. Some of the dialogue and other writing is just bizarre, some of it exceedingly clunky (I'm so glad to see that you're being motivated by that unit says headteacher Mum about a school project). Some is evidently trying to be hip and trendy, some is definitely more of the old-fashioned style. It doesn't seem successfully edited, the jokes (like the guest star Otis Redding in a bad pun) don't work, and when Billy's narrator declares the Hoove prided himself on his spunk you just collapse into giggles at the ignominy of the whole thing.
Perhaps the dichotomy between old and bland and new and bland is down to having two writers, but here it's too many cooks spoiling the plot, which doesn't work. People do ridiculous things, something that flies directly through the Hoove one moment is safely perched on his lap the next. There are copious elements the adult reader can scoff at, but more importantly nothing the young reader will particularly relish. The tone swerves between the name-calling between step-siblings and the uber-PC adult speak even Billy uses with his parents, while the ghost being hip and trendy in a 99-year old fashion also gets too tiresome, and beyond that the object of the book – to show how helping others to care and be responsible is a caring and responsible thing to do – gets lost for too long in what is a build-up to some very mediocre mild slapstick. Children won't baulk at this entirely – there's nothing to completely turn them off – but in this world where so many books are forcing children to fall in love with them, this hodge-podge is a bid too bodged.
I must still thank the publishers for my review copy.
Much more lively and amusing writing about pets can be had with the whole series starting with The Great Hamster Massacre by Katie Davies.
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You can read more book reviews or buy How To Scare The Pants Off Your Pets (Ghost Buddy) by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver at Amazon.com.
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