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Pleasing the Ghost

Pleasing the Ghost

4.1 28
by Sharon Creech, Stacey Schuett (Illustrator)

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Newbery Medal winner and master storyteller Sharon Creech spins a wonderfully funny and tender tale.

As nine-year-old Dennis confronts the ghost of his uncle Arvie, Arvie's eccentric antics and wonderful wordplay keep the reader laughing. But at its tender heart, the story reveals the holes left in our lives when we lose the ones we love.

Ever since


Newbery Medal winner and master storyteller Sharon Creech spins a wonderfully funny and tender tale.

As nine-year-old Dennis confronts the ghost of his uncle Arvie, Arvie's eccentric antics and wonderful wordplay keep the reader laughing. But at its tender heart, the story reveals the holes left in our lives when we lose the ones we love.

Ever since nine-year-old Dennis's dad died, a veritable parade of ghosts has been passing through his bedroom. When the ghost of his uncle Arvie blows into his room on a warm breeze, Dennis isn't surprised, but Uncle Arvie is the first ghost who wants something from Dennis.

Dennis would love to help Uncle Arvie, but he can't quite understand what Uncle Arvie is asking for. What, for example, is "Fraggle pin Heartfoot a wig pasta"? Dennis has to find out, because this is one ghost who isn't going to leave until he gets what he came for.

Uncle Arvie's antics and Dennis's attempts to please his ghost form the heart of this touching story.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Alexandria LaFaye
Many people say that laughter is the best medicine and Creech certainly takes this to heart. Dennis is frequently visited by ghosts, but not the ghost he wants to see the most-that of his father. Instead, Dennis is visited by the ghost of strangers and his Uncle Arvie. His uncle stays for some time because he wants Dennis to finish the tasks he left undone. This book takes serious and painful situations-death, stroke related speech problems, and the anger involved in grief -and makes them funny. This approach may help young readers who are dealing with these issues to relieve some of their tensions through laughter.
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
Newbery award winning author Sharon Creech has a remarkable gift for finding humor in dark places. Her stories teach without preaching and serve as a tool for youngsters dealing with painful situations such as the death of a parent, debilitating strokes and grief. Her young hero, Dennis, is visited by ghosts in this fantasy. Although he longs to converse with the spirit of his dad, Dennis instead is haunted by strangers and a distant uncle, who nonetheless, help him through a very painful time.
Kirkus Reviews
For readers younger than the audience for Creech's other novels (Absolutely Normal Chaos, 1995, etc.), an entertaining story with modest aspirations. Dennis, whose father recently died, is visited by the ghost of Uncle Arvie, who wants Dennis to perform three tasks for him. As the result of a stroke Uncle Arvie suffered while he was alive, he can only communicate in a system of nonsense words—"yin" for yes, "pepperoni" as the name of Dennis's father (Uncle Arvie's brother), "Heartfoot" for Uncle Arvie's wife, etc.—that will tax readers as it leads Dennis, eventually, to a lost letter, lost painting, and buried treasure for his aunt.

This featherweight fantasy is mildly amusing, but those who have experienced the death of a parent may be pained by Dennis's hope, portrayed as a perfectly reasonable wish, that his father's ghost will visit him soon. Black-and-white chapter decorations further lighten the fare.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
A Trophy Bk.
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.22(d)
520L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

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Chapter One

I'm Dennis, your basic, ordinary nine-year-old boy, and usually I live a basic, ordinary life. I go to school, I take care of my dog, I eat, I sleep. Sometimes, though, my life is not so ordinary. This is because of the ghosts.

Another one arrived last week. It came on the wind, like the others. It's not an ordinary wind that brings these ghosts-it's a bare whisper of wind that tickles the curtains. No one feels or hears this wind except me and my dog, Bo.

The first ghost came a month after my father died. It was my great gran, but I didn't know she was a ghost. She seemed real enough to me. When I mentioned Great Gran's visit to my mother, she said, "Dennis, Great Gran's in heaven."

"Not last night she wasn't," I said.

A month later my old cat, Choo, flew in my bedroom window. I could see him plain as anything, but he felt as light as a leaf. When I held his puckered old face up to my mother, she pressed her hand against my forehead. "Oh Dennis," she said. "Not feeling well? Choo's been dead for six months."

There have been other ghosts since Choo and Great Gran. There was an old man who used to live next door, a woman who said she had lived two hundred years ago, and a policeman. A constant parade of ghosts, but never the one I really want.

I asked the policeman ghost, "Why do ghosts visit me? Why don't they visit anyone else I know?"

"You didn't send for us? Sometimes we're sent for."

"I didn't send for you," I said. I hadn't sent for Choo or Great Gran either, though it was nice to see them. And I certainly hadn't sent for the dead old man or woman."But if I did send for a specific ghost, would he come?"

"Hard to say," he said. "Can't always go where we aim! I was just out riding on the wind, and this is where it brought me. Thought maybe you sent for me."

Imagine! To ride on the wind and whiz into people's windows like that!

Last Friday, as I climbed into bed, I heard one of the whispering winds. When my mother came in to say good night, I asked her if a storm was coming.

" Storm? I don't think so. Look how calm it is. Not even a breeze out there."

So I knew that this was another ghost wind. Soon it would be followed by a faint whistle, and then the wind would swirl and roll and twist in through the room trailing a cloud of blue smoke. Out of that blue smoke would step a ghost. That's how it happens. It doesn't matter if the window is open or not. The wind and the ghost will come right through it.

I've tried to tell my friends and teachers about these ghosts, but they just laugh. "What an imagination I" my teachers say. One boy at school, Billy Baker, punched me in the chest. "You don't see no ghosts, you stupid liar," he said.

Billy was new at our school. My teacher sat him next to me. She whispered, "You and Billy have something in common. I know you'll be nice to him."

Nice to him! I tried, but he was the grumpiest crab I'd ever met. After he punched me for no good reason, I decided someone else could be nice to him. And as for having something in common-hah! The only things we seemed to have in common were that we were both boys and we were in the same class.

Bo whimpered in his sleep. Did he sense what was coming? The wind whistled, and the curtains curled in the air. Bo's yellow fur stood on end.

The ghosts had never hurt me, but still I was afraid. What if it was a wicked, horrible ghost? But I also wanted to know who it would be. Maybe it would be the one ghost I wanted, the one ghost I prayed for, the one ghost I'd sent for.

I had an odd, quivery feeling as that wind blew harder, reeling and rolling through the window, twisting the curtains high into the air. Bo crawled up beside me and covered his ears with his paws.

"Get ready, Bo. Here comes the ghost."

Whish! blew the wind. Whew! The curtains flew this way and that, knocking a book off my desk. Whisk! My socks lifted off the floor and danced in the air.

Bo scooted around in a circle, trying to get his head under the covers.

Whish! Whisk! The curtains flipped into the air and sank down again, wrapping their ends around the chair. Suddenly the wind calmed. In came a quiet stream of air and a wisp of blue smoke, which swirled and floated across the room.

"Here it comes, Bo. We're about to have a visitor."

The blue smoke twisted and twirled, floating down to the floor and forming itself into a pair of green boots.

"It's here, Bo!"

The smoke formed a sturdy pair of legs in blue trousers. Next appeared a purple sweater across a big chest and arms. The smoke wiggled and wobbled and formed into a head topped by a red cowboy hat.

The ghost had arrived.

Pleasing the Ghost. Copyright © by Sharon Creech. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Sharon Creech has written twenty books for young people and is published in over twenty languages. Her books have received awards in both the U.S. and abroad, including the Newbery Medal for Walk Two Moons, the Newbery Honor for The Wanderer, and Great Britain’s Carnegie Medal for Ruby Holler.

Before beginning her writing career, Sharon Creech taught English for fifteen years in England and Switzerland. She and her husband now live in Maine, “lured there by our grandchildren,” Creech says. “Moo was inspired by our mutual love of Maine and by our granddaughter’s involvement in a local 4-H program. We have all been enchanted with the charms of cows.”


Stacey Schuett's artwork graces numerous picture books, including the I Can Read Book Forest by Laura Godwin and her own Somewhere in theWorld Right Now, a Reading Rainbow Book. Ms. Schuett lives in Sebastopol, California.

Brief Biography

Pennington, New Jersey
Date of Birth:
July 29, 1945
Place of Birth:
Cleveland, Ohio
B.A., Hiram College, 1967; M.A., George Mason University, 1978

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Pleasing the Ghost 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a good book, and the writer has a way of suckin you in and making you want to read more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome author, enertaing book
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so sweat in a funny kin of way. Its about this boy and he has ghost that fly through his window. Well when his Uncle Avrie comes he has three 'pleases'!! Read this book and it will take you one a crazy, funny, and adventurous ride!! READ IT!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sharon Creech wrote this book cooly! It was short and sweet, but had a great story line! I think it matches up to the rest of her books pretty well! Everyone who has ever lost somebody or has seen something that nobody believes, should read this book!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is not scary its very good and it has to do with dennis's uncle who is the ghost
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is really good and I liked it a lot. It was strange though but in a good way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very intersting book ;D
Guest More than 1 year ago
it was evry interesting. i liked it because it was magical and adventurous.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was so so good. I mean u can't put it down. Oh try reading the book' The Lovly Bones' By: Alice Sebold. Now u really can't put that book down. But besides that Pleasing the ghost was the best book ever. But really realy try reading the book ' The Lovly Bones' They even Purnoced on the radio that it was great. Heres what the book is about: When you first meet Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven.As she looks down from this strange new place,she tells us, in the fresh and spirited voice of a fourteen-year-old girl, a tale that is both haunting and full of hope. In the weeks following her death, Susie watches life continuing with out her-her school friends trading rumores about her disappearance, her family holding ou hope that she'll be found, her killer trying to cover his traks. As months pass without leads, Susie sees her parents' marrage being controted by loss, her little brother trying to grasp the meaning of the word gone. As she explores a place called heaven. It looks alot like her school playground, with the good kind of sets. There are counselors to help new comers ajust and friends to room with. Everything she ever wanted appears as soon as she thinks-exept the thing she wants more: to be back with the people she loved on Earth. With compassion, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie sees her loved ones pass throegh greif and begin to mend. Her father embarks on a risky quest to ensnare her killer. Her sister undertakes a feat of remarkble daring. And the boy Susie cared for moves on, only to ind himself in the center of a miraculous event. That what the book 'The Lovly Bones' is about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my teachers read this book to us
Mara Fleishman More than 1 year ago
i like it evan though its not that great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Sharon Creech, but is this good?????
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looking for a good book dont know if its good