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Dad, in Spirit

Dad, in Spirit

4.0 1
by A. LaFaye, Chris Sheban (Other)

"Sure, he was distracted a lot, but my dad was still a cool guy. I would've thought so even if he weren't my dad, and I wanted him back."

Ebon will never memorize the phone book like his brother, Sam; he can't sew Halloween costumes like his sister, Joliet; and he'll certainly never build a backyard castle like his dad. So Ebon grudgingly accepts


"Sure, he was distracted a lot, but my dad was still a cool guy. I would've thought so even if he weren't my dad, and I wanted him back."

Ebon will never memorize the phone book like his brother, Sam; he can't sew Halloween costumes like his sister, Joliet; and he'll certainly never build a backyard castle like his dad. So Ebon grudgingly accepts his place as the normal kid in a weird family — that is, until the day Dad falls asleep.

Working on the local haunted house, Dad hits his head and slips into a coma. Ebon's goal is to get Dad to wake up. It might be more than Ebon can handle, though, especially when Dad starts wandering around the house like a ghost. After all, how can Dad be a ghost if he's alive lying in a hospital bed? Ebon must find a way to unite Dad's spirit with his body — before Dad sleeps forever.

In her first contemporary novel A. LaFaye turns a potentially tragic circumstance into a magical story of the power of one family's love. Distinguished by LaFaye's trademark storytelling, Dad, in Spirit will tickle your funny bone as it touches your heart.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Nine-year-old Ebon Jones loves to help his dad create the town haunted house, and this year is no exception. Ebon is sure he is the odd person in his quirky family. His dad is a writer and also does research for novelists; his mother is a sculptor who specializes in gargoyles; even his sister Joliet loves to sew and makes costumes for plays. Ebon has none of these talents, but he makes himself useful each year to dad as he works in the haunted house. One evening dad falls over some junk on the floor of the haunted house and the next day suddenly lapses into a coma. Ebon is determined to be the family member who helps dad wake up from the awful nightmare. As days turn into weeks, Ebon becomes aware that somehow he has the ability to contact dad's sleeping spirit. Ebon can hear his father talking to him, and he also sees him around the house. Through dad's terrible accident, Ebon discovers he too is a special member of his unique family. 2001, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, $16.00. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Sue Reichard
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Ebon Jones, the nine-year-old narrator, has always felt like the least exceptional member of his unusual family. His father, in particular, is an odd duck who keeps erratic hours, delights in esoteric minutiae, and involves the family in elaborate games. When Dad lapses into a coma after suffering a fall, however, it's ordinary Ebon who begins to hear him speaking, who begins to see him materializing around their house, and, strangest of all, who enables his mother and siblings to experience Dad, too. Counter to all scientific and medical expectations, perhaps thanks only to Ebon's steadfast love and overwhelming need to have his father back, the man recovers completely from his concussion. Best of all, having rejoined the family, he seems resolved to maintain closer relationships with them. LaFaye has written before about children with nonconformist parents, but this is her first attempt to do so in a contemporary setting-modern Minneapolis. Somehow, the suspension of disbelief necessary for enjoying this novel is a little more difficult than for her books set in the South some 50 years ago. Nonetheless, Dad, in Spirit is original, provocative, and ultimately joyous.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A wildly unlikely tale of family love and near-loss from LaFaye (Nissa's Place, 1999, etc.). Fourth-grader (and narrator) Ebon Jones is the ordinary-man-out in his zany family: his little brother is a math whiz and a master storyteller; his older sister is a costume designer without parallel; his mother carves gargoyles for a living; and his father, a researcher for other people's historical novels, pours his creative energies into fantastic building projects, including a two-story castle in the backyard and the town's annual haunted house. During work on that project, he suffers a mysterious brain injury that renders him comatose and separates his spirit from his body. This spirit manifests itself initially, and most strongly, to Ebon, who takes it upon himself to reunite his father's body and soul to bring him back. What ensues is a string of reunification attempts punctuated by fond reminiscences of his father's wild and crazy ways. The sheer outsized wonderfulness of Dad and studied uniqueness of the family make the story hard to swallow, as does the scattershot approach to reunification—some of Ebon's efforts feel arbitrarily added to stretch the story out, rather than to serve a cohesive narrative. The setting is incompletely established and does not communicate itself to the reader: all the settings seem impossibly close together with very little geography in between, and the weather is remarkably—and unremarked as such—mild for Minneapolis in November. The final climactic scene, in which Ebon goes with his father through . . . the Underworld? Limbo? . . . well, someplace between life and death, is as incompletely realized as the setting. The family dynamicis enjoyable, if unbelievable, but this is not enough to rescue this confused effort. Revisit Ursula K. Le Guin's The Farthest Shore instead. (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.58(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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Dad, in Spirit 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Dad, in Spirit¿ is an overall good read. A. LaFaye does a great job combing humor, twists and turns, and tight family bonds into unique plot. In the book, Ebon finds himself to be ¿the normal one¿ in a rather unique family. Both his older sister and younger sister have special abilities that help them stand out, and his mother and father also stand out in the neighborhood. Ebon seemingly accepts his role as the helper, and takes pride in helping his father with his off-the-wall projects. One day, his father falls off of a ladder while working on his annual Halloween haunted house, causing him to slip into a coma. Ebon and his family find themselves battling this tragedy and continuing on their daily lives. As the days go on, Ebon finds himself hearing his father¿s voice helping him through tough situations, and eventually, Ebon actually thinks he sees his father roaming the house. Ebon then makes it his responsibility to find a way to wake up his father, before it becomes too late. I would recommend this book for students in grades 4-6. It¿s a little far-fetched, but it is definitely enjoyable to read. The descriptions in the book provide many opportunities for the reader to envision just exactly what is taking place or what the surroundings look like, but still leave enough out to allow them to create their own details. You¿ll find yourself reading through it pretty fast, so if you have an afternoon and want a book to relax with, pick up a copy of this book.