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There's a Dead Person Following My Sister Around Hardcover – August 2, 1999


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 870L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (August 2, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152021000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152021009
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,068,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ted's big problem is not his annoying brother Zach, his social studies report on Luxembourg or his stuck-up cousin Jackie. He has ghosts in his house. His five-year-old sister, Vicki, is the first to see them; she starts keeping a hammer under her pillow for protection. Then, 11-year-old Ted dreams of mud, drowning and cobwebby fingers touching his face. Naturally, their parents don't believe these ghostly accounts of undead residents, so the children are on their own to do the supernatural sleuthing. The ghosts soon progress to the usual haunting activities of slamming doors, stealing keys and tipping over school projects. They appear on cable TV and even show up in a museum elevator. But why? Only when Ted unravels a mystery involving the Underground Railroad and reveals the ghosts' identities can peace be restored. Vande Velde's (Tales From the Brothers Grimm and Sisters Weird) dialogue has a natural cadence and the plot unfolds at a brisk pace. And the African-American ghosts provide an intriguing counterpoint to a thoroughly modern houseful of children, who learn a history lesson strong enough to chill their bones. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7-Vande Velde continues her string of historical ghost stories, this time focusing on the Underground Railroad. The first-person narrator, 11-year-old Ted, is certain that his house in Rochester, NY, can't be haunted because it has been in his family for generations and there have been no secrets to speak of in its past. Then his five-year-old sister Vicki's imaginary friend Marella and the "bad lady" who seems to be chasing her prove themselves to be all too real. Ted decides to get to the bottom of the mystery and finds a journal belonging to one of his ancestors. It recounts the tragic story of two runaway slaves, a mother and her five-year-old daughter, who drowned in the Erie Canal, which used to run through the family's backyard. The story culminates in Ted and Vicki being possessed by the spirits in order to help them move on. The secondary characters include busy parents barely present; a typical teenage brother; and a trendy, smart-talking cousin. However, the plot has original twists and the journal passages are nicely integrated into a story with some genuine chills. The penultimate chapter unnecessarily switches to present tense when Adah, the mother's spirit, possesses Ted. Nonetheless, there is sufficient humor, action, and scariness to keep readers engaged. A good choice for fans of Bruce Coville's "Nina Tanleven" series (Bantam).
Timothy Capehart, Leominster Public Library, MA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

This is a fast-paced, stimulating book.
Makesha Kinard
I read this book with my fifth grade classes for the past 2 years, and they LOVED it.
Amazon Customer
This book keeps you guessing at every turn of the page.
Kimberly Southworth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sheila Trimble on April 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am a college student taking an Adolescent Literature course that requires me to read 25 adolescent books over the course of the semester.
I was not eager to read this book because my professor designated it as a FANTASY book, a genre I am not particularly fond of. However, "There's a Dead Person Following My Sister Around" has changed my attitude about FANTASY literature and I am now a fan.
Vivian Vande Velde's character development and imagery is superbly done. The story is surprisingly educational in the historic references to the Underground Railroad and the plot twists are creative and entertaining.
Anyone who has a teenaged sibling will relate to twelve-year old Ted and five-year old Vicki's relationship with their obnoxious older brother, Zack. Zack thinks he knows everything, but he is not the hero of the story. It is Ted and his cousin who unearth the sad history of the "dead person following his sister." Their discovery enables them to bury the haunting past and provides two very deserving souls the peace and freedom they so richly desire.
"There's a Dead Person Following My Sister Around" is educational, suspenseful, funny, sad and a must-read for all ages. I was pleasantly surprised and I look forward to recommending this book to my future elementary school students.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Makesha Kinard on October 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
Children often have imaginary friends sometimes, within their lives. But how often can these friends move objects or haunt the dreams of their brother. Ted is convineved that his five-year-old sister's new friend is a ghost and evil ghost. Why
does she choose Vicki to play with, and what does she want? Who is her mother, and why is she haunting Ted's dreams? Why doesn't she want Ted in the attic? What's up their that is so important? When Ted calls his grandparents to find out what is in the attic, he learns of hi great-grandmothers diary. As Ted reads through the diary,he finds who the ghosts are and what happened to them. But can he help Vicki before it is too late?
This is a fast-paced, stimulating book. I was reeled in from the beginning. It is the style of book that cannot be put down. It keeps the reader's attention with twists and turns on every page. This book keeps you guessing what will happen next
and I feel it is a very excellent book, combining fact and fiction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Capehart VINE VOICE on December 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
As a children's librarian I read a LOT of books. Some of them are pretty stinky, a few of them are perfect...and some are just plain great reads. This is one of this last category.
I just finished reading this book for the second time (first time was to review it for School Library Jourrnal). THIS time, I read it to use it with my middle-grade book discussion group & I know the kids will love it.
It is spooky. It is full of sly humor. It has history, and it has thrills. Most importantly its narrarator sounds like a REAL kid. His friends and family are real too. Even the ghosts sound (?) authentic. I'm glad Vande Velde has so many books out there. I've only read two...and I'm looking forward to the rest. Your middle grade readers (say 4th to 7th grade) will love this.
(I still think the title is a little...odd though) :-) Happy Reading!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly Southworth on October 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is set in the present, but takes you back to the past by painting mental images. It begins with Ted's sister talking to her imaginary friend. Most people have an imaginary friend at one time or another during their childhood, and Ted didn't think much about it when his sister told him she was talking to her new friend. Then strange and unusual things began to happen. Ted's Luxemburg project is tossed around in the basement. He begins having nightmares and becomes sick one night after waking up from a bad dream. He dreamt he was drowning, and that he had swallowed alot of water. This convinces Ted that his house must be haunted, and that his sister's 'friend' is actually a ghost. The problem is that there seems to be a bad ghost haunting them also. As Ted delves into the fact that his house may be haunted, he uncovers many things. When he called his grandparents to ask about the house, he learned that his great, great grandmother kept a journal, and that it might be up in the attic. As he searches through the attic, he is faced with the ghost trying to keep from it. The first time he attempted opening the attic door, it was slammed shut and the key flew out of the lock. Determined to find the journal, he tries again, only to have boxes and books fly off shelves at him. As he read the journal, he discovered who the ghosts were, and what happened to them.
This book keeps you guessing at every turn of the page. It is definitely a book you can't put down until you're finished. I feel it is an excellent book, and well worth reading. There are many ways educators can tie this book into lesson plans and framework competencies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Veazey on October 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
What do a five-year old, a twelve-year, two ghosts from the past, a house located on the Erie Canal, and the Underground Railroad all have in common? Vivian Vande Velde incorporates all these elements by using historical fiction to educate young readers about the many truths of the Underground Railroad. Ted, a twelve year old middle child, begins to realize that his life is not so normal when his five year old sister, Vicki, invents an imaginary friend who turns out not to be so imaginary. This imaginary friend is actually a ghost who has haunted their house for a hundred and fifty years. Ted begins a journey to discover his family's past with the Underground Railroad through his and Vicki's encounters with the ghosts. When Ted uncovers the family secret, he is lead to many revelations of the connection between past and present. This book reminds us to never underestimate the imagination of a child. History classes could benefit greatly from this book because, it shows different perspectives of the Underground Railroad, and it has a significant amount of history about events prior to the Civil War.
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