by Kate DiCamillo


by Kate DiCamillo


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Notes From Your Bookseller

Kate DiCamillo always delivers, and here she brings a slice-of-life narrative packed with family in all its forms — unconventional, stressful, unexpected, but still loving and caring. This is a read with energy that never stops, nor will you want it to.

The instant New York Times bestseller!

“Kate DiCamillo’s new children’s novel is a balm for the soul.” – The New York Times

The beloved author of Because of Winn-Dixie has outdone herself with a hilarious and achingly real love story about a girl, a ghost, a grandmother, and growing up.

It’s the summer before fifth grade, and for Ferris Wilkey, it is a summer of sheer pandemonium: Her little sister, Pinky, has vowed to become an outlaw. Uncle Ted has left Aunt Shirley and, to Ferris’s mother’s chagrin, is holed up in the Wilkey basement to paint a history of the world. And Charisse, Ferris’s grandmother, has started seeing a ghost at the threshold of her room, which seems like an alarming omen given that she is also feeling unwell. But the ghost is not there to usher Charisse to the Great Beyond. Rather, she has other plans—wild, impractical, illuminating plans. How can Ferris satisfy a specter with Pinky terrorizing the town, Uncle Ted sending Ferris to spy on her aunt, and her father battling an invasion of raccoons?

As Charisse likes to say, “Every good story is a love story,” and Kate DiCamillo has written one for the ages: emotionally resonant and healing, showing the two-time Newbery Medalist at her most playful, universal, and profound.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781536231052
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 03/05/2024
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 19,565
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

About The Author
Kate DiCamillo is one of America’s most beloved storytellers. She is a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and a two-time Newbery Medalist. Born in Philadelphia, she grew up in Florida and now lives in Minneapolis.


Minneapolis, Minnesota

Date of Birth:

March 25, 1964

Place of Birth:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


B.A. in English, University of Florida at Gainesville, 1987

Read an Excerpt

It was the summer before Emma Phineas Wilkey (who everyone called Ferris) went into the fifth grade.
   It was the summer that the ghost appeared to Charisse, the summer that Ferris’s sister, Pinky Wilkey, devoted herself to becoming an outlaw, and the summer that Uncle Ted left Aunt Shirley and moved into the Wilkey basement to paint a history of the world.
   It was the summer that Ferris’s best friend, Billy Jackson, played a song called “Mysterious Barricades” over and over again on the piano.
   Billy Jackson loved music.
   The very first sentence he had ever spoken to Ferris was “I hear piano music in my head all the time, and, I wonder, would it be all right if I held on to your hand?”
   They were standing in Mrs. Bleeker’s kindergarten classroom. Squares of sunlight were shining on the wood floors, and Ferris gave her hand to Billy Jackson while he continued to explain to her about the piano music in his head.
   Billy’s hand was sweating. His glasses were attached to his head with a strap, and Ferris knew almost immediately, from that very first moment, that she didn’t want to ever lose hold of Billy Jackson. She said, “There’s a piano at our house. You can come over and play it whenever you want.”
   It was a big, old house, the house where Ferris lived.
   Ferris had her own room. So did Pinky, and so did Ferris’s parents.
   Charisse, Ferris’s grandmother, had her own room, too.
   That was where the ghost showed up—at the threshold of Charisse’s room.
   “Darling,” Charisse said to Ferris, “this ghost! She just stands there in the doorway and stares at me with the most mournful expression.”
   “What does she look like?” said Ferris. “Besides mournful?”
   “She’s wearing a long dress. She has a handkerchief in her hand, and she wrings and squeezes it. Clearly, she is in despair over something. She is very unhappy, darling.”
   “Are there happy ghosts?” said Ferris.
   “I would like you to know that Boomer sees her, too. In case you are inclined to doubt my sanity.”
   Boomer was the dog. He was part sheepdog and part German shepherd and also, according to Ferris’s father, part woolly mammoth. No one was sure, really, what kind of dog Boomer was, only that he was enormous and furry.
   “Boomer refuses to enter the room if he sees her standing there,” said Charisse. “He is a very perceptive dog.”
   “But why is the ghost here?” asked Ferris. She was sitting in the window seat of Charisse’s room, looking out into the backyard.
   Ferris figured that she had spent more than half of her time on earth in Charisse’s room—talking to her grandmother, listening to her, playing gin rummy with her, and reading to her from the Bible and also from a battered paperback copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
   “I mean,” said Ferris, “what do you think the ghost wants?”
   “I have absolutely no idea,” said Charisse. “I am utterly baffled by all of it, darling.”
   Boomer was asleep on the rose-patterned carpet by Charisse’s bed. He was moving his paws, breathing heavily, dreaming of chasing something. The one time Boomer had actually managed to catch something (a baby squirrel), he had dropped it immediately and crept into the house with his tail between his legs—devastated by shame and regret.
   His was a gentle soul.
   That was what Charisse said about Boomer. “His is a gentle soul.”
   “Are you afraid of her?” said Ferris. “Are you afraid of the ghost?”
   “When you’ve lived as long as I have,” said Charisse, who was seventy-three years old, “you are not afraid of ghosts.”
   “What are you afraid of, then?” said Ferris.
   “Indignities,” said Charisse.
   “I don’t understand,” said Ferris.
   “Isn’t that wonderful?” said Charisse. “I’m so pleased that you don’t understand.”
   It was late afternoon, and Charisse was in bed.
   “Why are you still in bed?” asked Ferris.
   “I don’t feel well, darling, and that is all I want to say about that. I would ask you not to question me to death, as is your wont.”
   Ferris was Charisse’s favorite person on the planet. No one denied it—not Charisse, not Ferris, not anybody in the whole household.
   Charisse was the person who had caught Ferris when she entered the world—literally caught her.
   Charisse had been on her knees in the dirt of the fairground, and she had been the one who had seen Ferris first. She said she recognized her at first sight.
   “Welcome, darling.” That is what she had said to Ferris, and Ferris swore that she could remember it—entering the world, seeing the blue sky, seeing Charisse’s face smiling down at her.
   “It’s a love story,” Charisse said whenever she told the story of Ferris being born. “But then, every story is a love story. Or every good story is a love story.”
   “You can’t possibly remember it,” said Ferris’s mother that evening. “I barely remember it. You know what your grandmother does? She dramatizes everything. No, she romanticizes everything. Going into labor on a patch of dirt at the fairground is not romantic, I can tell you that much. Hand me the sponge, will you?”
   Ferris and her mother were at the kitchen table. Her mother was pasting Green Stamps into an S&H Green Stamps book. She was working on filling enough books to get a toaster oven.
   Ferris’s mother was practical. She was a pragmatist. She taught high school math. “Attempting to teach math to a roomful of teenagers on a daily basis leaves no room for romantic notions,” her mother often said. “I am a pragmatist through and through.”
   Was Ferris a pragmatist or a romantic?
   She didn’t know.
   But sometimes, right before she fell asleep, she saw blue sky—the blue sky that she remembered from being born—and she saw Charisse smiling at her, her face lit up and beautiful.
   Ferris believed that she’d recognized Charisse as soon as she had laid eyes on her.
   Just the same way she’d recognized Billy Jackson from the first day she took his hand.
   “Every story is a love story,” Ferris said out loud to herself that night when she was in bed.
   The windows in her room were open. The crickets were singing. Boomer had thrown himself across her feet. He was snoring.
   It was hot having a woolly mammoth draped across her feet, but Ferris was worried about
   Charisse not feeling well, and she was worried about the ghost—what did she want? Why was she only appearing to Charisse? And so Ferris was grateful to have Boomer there, anchoring her to the bed, the house, the world.
   “I am ten years old,” Ferris said into the darkness.
   Ten seemed like a significant number of years.
   Ten seemed like the age when Ferris might start to understand some things.
   “I am ten years old, and every story is a love story.”
   Above her, above the house, the stars were shining, wheeling their way across the sky.
Boomer snored.
   The crickets sang.
   It sounded like maybe the stars were singing, too.
   Ferris closed her eyes. She listened.
   Every story is a love story, the whole world seemed to be singing. Every good story is a love story.

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