About the Author
As a professional storyteller, Dotti has entertained at numerous schools, libraries, museums and festivals since 1993. She takes pride in her vast collection of original stories and folktales, and specializes in participation stories, allowing the audience to join in the fun.
Dotti is a member of The Society of Childrens Book Writers & Illustrator and the Texas Reading Association.
A native Texan, Dotti lived throughout Texas as a small child, but Houston has been her home since the age of eight. She lives with her husband, two teenage daughters, and a lazy cat named Oliver.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
that?" Juniper said, twirling her empty
soda bottle on the floor.
Anne beamed. "Hey, do I know how to pick a
subject for social studies, or what? I've always wondered
why people think that house is haunted.
Now's my chance to investigate. So what landmark
did you pick?"
"The Lincoln Memorial."
Gena stopped Juniper's bottle in midspin. "I
picked Mount Rushmore, a.k.a. 'Our Four Fathers.'
She held up four fingers to demonstrate.
"They're not 'Our Four Fathers,' dummy.
Where'd you hear that?" Juniper asked.
"From a kid I babysat last year."
Anne laughed and shifted, pulling her knees
up into a hug. "Are you sure he wasn't talking
about our forefathers? As in f-o-r-e? You know,
"Maybe," Gena said. "But don't you think it's
more than a coincidence that there are FOUR of
"Oh, jeez," Juniper said, shaking her head.
Gena shrugged. "Oh well, guess I won't be
looking that kid up for more info after all."
"Smart idea," Anne said.
Juniper went back to twirling the bottle. "So
how are you going to research Boogerman's
house? Where are you going to look?"
"There's got to be records somewhere. I mean,
where did that historical marker come from
"Ah-hum . . . and what about her?" Gena
Anne knew exactly who Gena meant. "She'll
definitely be part of the report."
Juniper stopped the bottle herself this time.
"The Gray Lady!" Anne and Gena blurted at
the same time.
Juniper slapped her forehead. "Duh! How
could I forget her?"
"Do you think it's true?" Anne asked. "That
she hanged herself in the attic?"
Juniper nodded. "It's true, but I'm not so sure
about the piano music."
"Yeah, what's up with that?" Gena said. "A
bunch of kids at school have said they've heard
the ghost music when they've gone by, but I've
been by that house eight zillion times, and I
haven't even heard 'Chopsticks.'"
Anne smirked. "Since when can you believe
most of the junk you hear at school? I'm not saying
her ghost isn't playing the piano in there
somewhere. I just don't think too many people
have heard it. Anyway, I'm going back there
tomorrow after school to take some pictures. Go
with me, you guys. It would be so cool if we
could sneak inside."
"No way!" Juniper said, flatly. "One sneeze
and it might cave in. It's never really been a goal
of mine to be buried in decay, you know. Oh
yeah, and then there's that 'Danger-No Trespassing'
sign by the front porch. I do believe
that's more than just a warning."
"You're chicken," Anne said, hoping some
name calling would change Juniper's mind.
Truth was, Anne was a bit chicken too. Why else
ask Juniper and Gena to tag along?
"Then call me chicken too," Gena chimed in,
"but not because I'm afraid the house might fall
on top of me. I'm not one to disturb a ghostly
presence. Especially in its own territory."
"You're scared we'll find the Gray Lady?"
Anne blurted with a giggle.
"Not exactly," Gena answered. "I'm more afraid
that she will find us!"
* * *
Anne carried her camera to school so she'd have
it handy when she went back to Boogerman's
house. After classes, she pedaled straight up to the
iron fence, and as quiet and cautious as possible,
opened the squeaky gate. Just a few feet or so inside the
yard won't hurt anything. She wasted no time, snapping
one picture after another-kneeling, leaning,
taking vertical shots, horizontal ones-every possible
angle. She took pictures of the doors, windows,
and the historical marker planted firmly by the
enormous front porch.
The Davis Home
Built 1881 by Carlton Davis
Prominent Avery Founder and Citizen
The two-story Victorian-style house at 701
Shady Lane hadn't seen a speck of paint in a
hundred years. Its shutters were either snaggletoothed
or missing, and its gables leaned offkilter.
Anne stared at the house, mesmerized.
The house appeared to be staring back.
Then she dared to venture around to the back,
careful to step over a few broken bottles. Anne
had never been this close to the house, or seen
the back. It looked more peaceful and cozy back
here. A wild rose garden covered the back fence,
or maybe it should be called a wild rose jungle. A
gang of skinny cats roamed through it, and
Anne figured they must be strays. They didn't
look like typical, plump, domestic housecats.
The trees back here were gigantic and probably
older than science. They thoroughly shaded
the ground, which consisted of dirt rather than
The house definitely seemed older from this
view. There was a rusted-out bucket on the back
porch-a small rickety porch that leaned slightly
toward two rows of corroded pipes that outlined
one side of the backdoor. The pipes took a sharp
left just above it, disappearing into a square hole.
Something hissed, sending Anne out of her
skin. Phew! Just one of the cats. He arched his back
at her. She snapped more pictures, including
one of that crabby cat, then left. Strange. She wasn't
frightened of the place at all. Not like when she
was little. But suddenly, while riding away, she got
an odd feeling. Someone was watching her. More
than watching-inspecting her. Silly. Old houses
probably gave everyone that chilling feel.
* * *
Once she was home, Anne put the camera
"How did the photo session go?" Mom asked,
cutting a slice of spice cake and setting it before
"It went okay," Anne answered. The cake went
down moist and tasty, just like all of Mom's baking.
"I wish you'd lived on this side of town when
you were a little girl," she said. "You'd probably
have some great stories to tell me about that
"I wouldn't have gone anywhere near it," Mom
said. "Not even on a dare. You're much braver
than I am."
That got Anne to thinking. I wonder how many
people did go there on a dare?
"It'll be fun to research that old place though.
There are lots of people around here who've
lived near it all their lives. I bet you'll find one or
two to talk to."
Anne knew she would. She almost wished she
didn't have other homework assignments. She
wanted to focus full-time on the history of
Boogerman's house and its famous ghost, the
Once she'd eaten her cake, drank a glass of
milk, and wiped the moo juice from her upper
lip, she went to the computer to download the
pictures. She plugged in the camera, then sat,
eyeing each one closely. Good job, Donovan! she
thought. This was some great photography, even if I
say so myself. But then, there were no people in
them to blink or sneeze or move about, causing
a major blur. And better still, her thumb hadn't
found its way in front of the lens, and neither
had her hair, on any of the pictures. Awesome.
Although the house was ramshackle and worse
for wear, the pictures she took were vibrantly
colored. The trees, the roses, even the smoky
color of the bare wooden frame was alive. These
are going to go great with my research project!
Anne was about to save them all and click print
when something in one of the pictures caught her
eye. She moved in closer to see. What was that? She
enlarged the image for an even better inspection,
then quickly jumped back. Holy ghosties! Anne got
up and walked in a circle for a moment, trying to
compose herself. Her thoughts raced. She grabbed
the phone and dialed Juniper.
Juniper had barely said hello when Anne
blurted, "Call Gena, quick. Both of you get over
here . . . now!"