Six Haunted Hairdos (Hamlet Chronicles Series #2)

Overview

Miss Earth's class is divided - the boys believe in ghosts, but the girls definitely do not. Luckily the boys know what to do if the see a specter: 1. Pinch yourself to make sure you're awake. 2. Pinch the ghost, to make sure it's real. 3. Run away - as fast as you can!
The girls have a better idea - scare the boys by dressing up as six spooky hairdressers from beyond the grave. But when some real ghosts show up, both groups have to pinch ...
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Overview

Miss Earth's class is divided - the boys believe in ghosts, but the girls definitely do not. Luckily the boys know what to do if the see a specter: 1. Pinch yourself to make sure you're awake. 2. Pinch the ghost, to make sure it's real. 3. Run away - as fast as you can!
The girls have a better idea - scare the boys by dressing up as six spooky hairdressers from beyond the grave. But when some real ghosts show up, both groups have to pinch themselves!

With the help of their favorite teacher, two rival clubs, the all-boy Copycats and the all-girl Tattletales, stop trying to out-do each other long enough to help the ghosts of a baby elephant and a herd of mastodons that appear near their small Vermont town.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Donna Freedman
In this hilarious and pun-filled sequel to "Seven Spiders Spinning," Maguire revisits Josiah Moffett Elementary School, where the girls' club, the Tattletales, wants to pull one over on the boys' club, the Copycats. When the boys talk about ghosts, the girls disguise themselves as spooks. But when all is said and done, it appears there really IS a ghost, or maybe more than one, and the kids have to work together to send these shades to rest. Maguire has created memorable characters, including Grandma Earth, who runs Grandma's Baked Goods and Auto Repair Shop, and Thekla Mustard, the charismatic Tattletale leader who is, perhaps a little too big for her britches. The writing is a howl, even if you don't believe in ghosts, and the book is a great way to get elementary boys and girls all on the same page, so to speak.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5The key elements of this zany story include a teacher who loves country music, Grandma's Baked Goods and Auto Repair Shop, woolly mammoth ghosts, a baby Indian elephant, a recent immigrant from India, and a Vermont setting. Miss Earth's fourth-grade students are divided along gender lines as to whether ghosts really exist. In an effort to prove themselves superior, the girls, members of the Tattletales club, set out to scare the boys, the Copycats club, by creating a story of six beauticians who died while touring the area. Luring the Copycats to the scene of the accident, the Tattletales scare them by using old clothes, wigs, and talcum powder. Meanwhile, the Copycats discover a herd of woolly mammoth ghosts that is searching for a lost baby. In a creative plot twist, the boys, aided by Pearl Hotchkiss who refuses to join either club, help the mammoths and get revenge on the girls. With a true understanding of fourth graders, the author creates believable characters. The dialogue is hilarious and reads aloud well. While the plot is complex because of all the characters, situations, and details, it flows nicely. The book features the same cast as Maguire's Seven Spiders Spinning (Houghton, 1994) but stands independently. Although the jacket art is less appealing, this title is bound to be as popular as Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories from Wayside School (Random, 1990).Molly S. Kinney, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Kirkus Reviews
Having survived an influx of giant, poisonous Siberian snow spiders (Seven Spiders Spinning, 1994), the rival boys and girls of Miss Earth's class in Hamlet, Vermont, face another set of prehistoric critters: a herd of ghost mammoths hunting through the centuries for a misplaced youngling.

In the wake of a classroom argument about the existence of ghosts, the Tattletales (girls) gleefully don fright masks and beehive wigs (" `There is nothing quite so terrifying as hairstyles that have gone out of fashion' ") and send the Copycats (boys) fleeing down spooky Hardscrabble Hill in panic, where there are actual ghosts—indistinct mounds that appear at the first sign of peanuts and wander about with a mournful air. With the help of the new boy, Salim Bannerjee, a newly deceased pet mouse named Jeremiah Bullfrog, plus lots of chocolate donuts from the local bakery-cum-auto repair shop, the Copycats divine the source of the mammoths' unhappiness; they ease it with a handy baby elephant ghost that has followed Salim all the way from the Bombay Zoo. Then, using many cans of hair spray, they give the obliging pachyderms new hairstyles to turn the tables on the Tattletales. Maguire's wit sometimes slips its leash, but the climax is sidesplitting and the gender rivalry thoroughly skewered, although the heartwarming ectoplasmic adoption scene prompts a Thanksgiving Day truce between the factions.

From the Publisher
"The key elements of this zany story include a teacher who loves country music, Grandma's Baked Goods and Auto Repair Shop, woolly mammoth ghosts, a baby Indian elephant, a recent immigrant from India, and a Vermont setting. . . . With a true understanding of fourth graders, the author creates believable characters. The dialogue is hilarious and reads aloud well." School Library Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064407205
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/1999
  • Series: Hamlet Chronicles Series , #2
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire is the popular author of many books for children, including the Hamlet Chronicles for Clarion, as well as several adult books, including WICKED (HarperCollins), upon which a Broadway musical was based, and its sequel, CONFESSIONS OF AN UGLY STEPSISTER (Regan Books). He lives in Concord, Massachusetts.

Biography

Raised in a family of writers (his father was a journalist and his stepmother a poet), Gregory Maguire grew up with a great love of books, especially fairy tales and fantasy fiction. He composed his own stories from an early age and released his first book for children, The Lightning Time, in 1978, just two years after graduating from the State University of New York at Albany.

Several other children's book followed, but major recognition eluded Maguire. Then, in 1995, he published his first adult novel. A bold, revisionist view of Frank L. Baum's classic Oz stories, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West places one of literature's most reviled characters at the center of a dark dystopian fantasy and raises provocative questions about the very nature of good and evil. Purists criticized Maguire for tampering with a beloved juvenile classic, but the book received generally good reviews (John Updike, writing in The New Yorker, proclaimed it "an amazing novel.") and the enthusiasm of readers catapulted it to the top of the bestseller charts. (Maguire's currency increased even further when the book was turned into the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Wicked in 2003.)

In the wake of his breakthrough novel, Maguire has made something of a specialty out of turning classic children's tales on their heads. He retold the legends of Cinderella and Snow White in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (1999) and Mirror, Mirror (2003); he raised the ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge in Lost (2001); and, in 2005, he returned to Oz for Son of a Witch, the long-awaited sequel to Wicked. He has reviewed fantasy fiction for the Sunday New York Times Book Review and has contributed his own articles, essays, and stories to publications like Ploughshares, The Boston Review, the Christian Science Monitor, and The Horn Book Magazine.

In addition, Maguire has never lost his interest in -- or enthusiasm for -- children's literature. He is the author of The Hamlet Chronicles, a bestselling seven-book series of high-camp mystery-adventures with silly count-down titles like Seven Spiders Spinning and Three Rotten Eggs. He has taught at the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and is a founding member of Children's Literature New England (CLNE), a nonprofit organization that focuses attention on the significance of literature in the lives of children.

Good To Know

In our interview, Maguire shared some fun facts with us about his life:

"While I pride myself on trying to be creative in all areas of my life, I have occasionally gone overboard, like the time I decided to bring to a party a salad that I constructed, on a huge rattan platter, to look like a miniature scale model of the Gardens of Babylon. I built terraces with chunks of Monterey jack, had a forest of broccoli florets and a lagoon of Seven Seas salad dressing spooned into a half a honeydew melon. I made reed patches out of scallion tips and walkways out of sesame seeds lined with raisin borders. Driving to the party, I had to brake to avoid a taxi, and by the time the police flagged me down for poor driving skills I was nearly weeping. ‘But Officer, I have a quickly decomposing Hanging Gardens of Babylon to deliver....' Everything had slopped and fallen over and it looked like a tray of vegetable garbage."

"My first job was scooping ice cream at Friendly's in Albany, New York. I hated the work, most of my colleagues, and the uniform, and I more or less lost my taste for ice cream permanently."

"If I hadn't been a writer, I would have tried to be one of the following: An artist (watercolors), a singer/songwriter like Paul Simon (taller but not very much more), an architect (domestic), a teacher. Actually, in one way or another I have done all of the above, but learned pretty quickly that my skills needed more honing for me to charge for my services, and I'd always rather write fiction than hone skills."

"I steal a bit from one of my favorite writers to say, simply, that I enjoy, most of all, old friends and new places. I love to travel. Having small children at home now impedes my efforts a great deal, but I have managed in my time to get to Asia, Africa, most of Europe, and Central America. My wish list of places not yet visited includes India, Denmark, Brazil, and New Zealand, and my wish for friends not yet made includes, in a sense, readers who are about to discover my work, either now or even when I'm no longer among the living. In a sense, in anticipation, I value those friends in a special way."

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    1. Hometown:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 9, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Albany, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., SUNY at Albany, 1976; M.A., Simmons College, 1978; Ph.D., Tufts University, 1990
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

A Migrating Ghost

"If you ever see a ghost," the boy told his friends in a whisper, "you must do three things. First, pinch yourself to make sure you're awake. Second, pinch the ghost to make sure it's real."

"That's only two things," said someone.

"If it pinches back," said Salim, "the third thing to do is run for your life."

The other boys nodded. It was fun to be in the tree house at sunset, talking about ghosts. No one was scared. You could hear Mr. Grubb hammering on the back porch. A hammer pounding was a nice safe sound.

"But did you ever see a ghost?" asked Sammy Grubb, whose tree house it was.

"Yes," said Salim.

"You're making it up," said Sammy Grubb.

"Oh, I tell the truth," said Salim. "I saw a ghost on the Air India jet coming from Bombay this summer. I had been in the washroom at the rear of the cabin. When I came out, the movie had started. Everyone in the smoking section was lighting up cigarettes."

The other six members of the Copycats club stared at him.

"Just then," Salim continued, "the pilot spoke over the intercom. He said for all passengers to buckle their seat belts. We were flying over the Himalayas, tallest mountains in the world. We were heading straight for turbulent winds."

"And?" said the boys in unison.

"As I stood there, a ghost appeared, formed out of cigarette smoke. It floated in the light from the in-flight video. The ghost made a shadowy shape against the screen, sortof like a legless man with a tapering tail. At first people laughed because they thought it was part of the show. But somebody said, "It's a ghost! And everyone began to scream."

"Then what?" The boys waited breathlessly. Sammy Grubb's mouth opened up so wide that his gum fell out onto the tree house floor. He brushed the dirt off with his thumb and popped the gum back in his mouth. He wasn't scared of a little dirt. Besides, he needed to chew. That's how anxious he was.

Salim went on. "The jet hit an air bump and people screamed again. Chicken curry went globbing through the air, followed by a thousand grains of rice. The ghost stretched out something like a long thick arm, pointing toward the back of the cabin. An old granny screeched, 'We're all going to die!' and then she fainted. But I thought the ghost was pointing at me."

The boys began to wish they had more than a single candle burning in their tree house. The evening was getting a bit too dark, and Mr. Grubb had finished his hammering and gone inside. "Then what?"

"The airplane bucked and stumbled on the currents like a fish flopping around on the bank of a river. The ghost began to swarm over the heads of everyone sitting in economy class. People ducked. I thought I should slip back into one of the washrooms, but they were all occupied. I was trapped!"

"And then?" asked Sammy Grubb, Chief of the Copycats club.

"And then?" echoed the other loyal members, Hector, Stan, Moshe, Mike, and Forest Eugene.

"There was no place to go!"

"And then?"

"When she fainted, the old granny leaned against the buttons in the arm of her seat, and she accidentally rang the bell for the steward. So, ghost or no ghost, an Air India steward came leaping bravely down the aisle. He yelled at me to get to my seat. Then he leaned over the granny to see what she wanted. He thought she was just asleep, so he opened an overhead luggage compartment to find her a complimentary Air India blanket."

"And then?"

"The ghost came floating nearer and nearer. If it was coming for me or the old woman, I couldn't say. But just then the airplane slid into a pothole in the air and everything in the cabin jumped around again: babies, more chicken curry and rice, little airplane pillows, me -- and also the smoky ghost. It was jostled upward into the open overhead luggage compartment. The steward slammed the door shut. Everyone cheered. We had a quiet trip all the way to London, where we had a stopover before changing planes for Boston. But the steward said that nobody should open that overhead compartment until all the passengers were safely off the plane."

"Who do you think the ghost was after? You?" asked Sammy Grubb.

"I don't know," said Salim. "When the granny came to her senses, she began to shriek that it was the ghost of her dead husband coming to haunt her. But when we landed in London her husband met her in the arrival hall, and then she remembered that he wasn't dead yet."

"I wonder where the ghost is now," said Sammy Grubb.

"Who can say?" " said Salim. "Air India flies to many cities. But if a ghost ever shows up, remember the three things I told you to do."

"Number one: Pinch yourself to make sure you're awake," said Sammy Grubb.

"Right," said Salim.

"Number two: Pinch the ghost to make sure it's real," said Sammy Grubb.

"Right," said Salim.

"Number three: If the ghost pinches back," said Sammy Grubb, "run for your life."

"Right," said Salim. "But there's not very far away you can run if you're in an airplane."

Overhead, a jet airliner floated in the inky night the stars. The Vermont woods nearby seemed dense eith shadows and alive with suspicious sounds.

"What's that in the woods?" Sammy Grubb suddenly screamed. "Look! Down there!"

"It's a ghost!" Salim whispered. "Everybody, pinch yourselves!"

They all did. "Ow," said Sammy Grubb.

"Pinch the ghost! said Salim. But nobody threw himself out of the tree house to do it. Down below, the figure in the woods came a little nearer.

Six Haunted Hairdos. Copyright © by Gregory Maguire. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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