About the Book
“Dawg, there is definitely something weird going on in this library.”
Elbie is right. But I can’t tell if it’s the air-conditioning making the little hairs on my arms stand up, or a ghost.
It’s been a year since Theresa and her English friend, Kerry, won the Ghosters contest. Now her little brother, Joey, has stumbled on a mystery in the school library. Blasts of cold air, lights that flicker, and books flying off the shelves start Joey and his friend, Elbie, searching for the reason.
Elbie lives above his family’s mortuary and is very comfortable around the ghosts that troop through its halls. He’s a prankster and doesn’t mind Joey’s Asperger’s behaviors. When the boys discover a ghost holding Joey’s bug book hostage, they team up with Theresa and Kerry to decode the ghostly messages found in the titles of the books thrown by the library ghost.
“This is crazy,” my big sister Theresa says. “Never ever ever would I even think about spending the night in that place.”
I focus on keeping my bike steady as I turn my head to ask, “Why shouldn’t I sleep at Elbie’s? Don’t you like him?”
“Liking Elbie has nothing to do with it.”
Since Dad won’t be home until eight, Theresa and her English friend, Kerry, are helping me bring my overnight stuff to Elbie’s house. Like a lot of people with Asperger’s Syndrome, I’m not super coordinated, and I think they’re worried I’ll crash my bike into a tree if I try to lug everything there myself.
For a while, we pedal on in silence as I try to figure out what Theresa meant. Still confused, I ask the same question of Kerry. Like Theresa, Kerry’s in eighth grade, and at six-foot-two, looks a little strange clutching my Spiderman sleeping bag as she pedals down the street.
“Elbie’s pleasant enough,” Kerry answers. “When he’s not being silly.”
True enough. Elbie’s a good friend, but his obsession with pranking people can get annoying. “Well, Dad likes Elbie’s dad,” I say, returning my concentration to the street ahead of us. “He likes their house too.”
With my bed pillow tucked under her left arm like a football, Theresa looks back at me as we turn the next corner. “Yeah, I’ve seen it,” she tells me. “It’s an awesome house. And I’m sure the whole family is great. It’s just that—”
“Is it because they’re black?”
“What? No—I mean . . .” The school Elbie and I go to is coming up on the right.
Theresa waves us into the Fern Creek Elementary parking lot, now empty because it’s Saturday.
“The fact that the Birds are black has nothing to do with it,” she says as she and Kerry pull to a stop in the wide-open bus area. “For crabs sakes, Jojo, they live in a funeral home.”
My brakes squeak as I pull to a stop in front of her. “Not in a funeral home. Over a funeral home. And it’s not the way you think. The living area is on the top floor. All the mortuary stuff is downstairs, the flowers . . . the caskets . . .”
“The dead bodies?” Kerry says.
“Of course, the dead bodies. Why would they bring them upstairs?”
Since all the girls do is raise their eyebrows, I adjust the straps of my backpack and continue my defense. “No, the bodies definitely stay in the basement—except for when Elbie’s dad brings them up to the chapel. That’s on the main floor. You know, in a way, Dad and Mr. Bird are a lot alike. They’re both around forty . . . they both work at home . . .”
“All that may be true,” Kerry says. “But your father writes books. He doesn’t—”
“Whoa-whoa-whoa.” Theresa waves both hands in Kerry’s face. “Please, don’t go there.”