Pick a book you have read and answer
the following questions:
Challenge accepted- the book I have chosen is…
1. Why did you pick the book?
I read it when I was about 12 years old. At that time, I had been writing for almost 2 years, looking back I know I was reaching for my ‘ voice ‘. This book was my key. It was my creative roadmap.
2. What did you think about the book?
Loved it. It was written for young adults and even though it touched on suicide, a dead girl being robbed, the opening and closing graves, a house of ill repute and a wide assortment of unsavory chracters- it did it with a light yet powerful touch and it did it with humor. I strive to do that in my writing to this day.
3. What do you know about the author?
Not much. I know had been a teacher, he was from Illinois. It was info I got off of the book jackets. But I never looked for more about him. I’m not sure why. I did read all of his books and I was sad to hear he died a few years ago.
4. What’s the most memorable scene?
There’s a scene where a local man goes crazy and spends all day and into the evening ( he only had one hand, he lost the other when he was working for the railroad ) cutting at the posts that held the trolley tracks up that crossed over a ravine.
Then he set them on fire.
The Ghost warns the main character about the fire and Alexander stops the Trolley before it crosses the ravine.
The Conductor, who is super angry, insists Alexander go look at the ‘damage’ with him and says if Alexander is messing with him he’s going to pay for it. So they and the curious passengers make their way to the creek bed to inspect the posts and before they get down there, the the Crazy guy steals the Street Car.
The Crazy man races it across the tracks, by then the flames have engulfed the posts and are starting to burn at the tracks too and the Man- Amory I believe his name was, goes crashing down into the ravine and the blazing the fire below.
He rang the bell all the way down.
5. How did the book make you feel?
Like I wanted to go to New Orleans the way Alexander, his Uncle and his friend Blossom did and write a spooky story- and eventually I did. I went for Halloween about 10 years ago and did just that.
6. How do you feel about the way the story was told?
It was like having someone sit next to me and tell me about ‘this thing that happened to them when they were you. Reading a spooky story is great. Hearing someone tell you one is even better.
7. Which parts of the book stood out to you?
When Alexander’s soon to be friend ( Blossom and I use the word ‘friend’ lightly because at this point he doesn’t like her ) chooses to ride in the baggage car with the skeletal remains of the Ghost Girl ( Inez ) because she tells Alexander she knows what it’s like to be alone
I also like the part where Alexander’s Uncle tells a story about the suicide of the Captain who built the house Alexander’s family lives in. It happened in the sitting parlor where they are sitting and Alexander’s Mom is entertaining one of the town’s most socially prominent people. He even points to the spot where he hung himself
8. Which specific parts of the protagonist can you relate to?
Alexander belongs to two different worlds and he doesn’t feel comfortable in either one.
9. Which character did you relate to the most?
10. Share a line or passage from the book:
There’s a scene where Alexander’s Mother and her cousin and Alexander’s sister are complimenting each other on how fine they look and I think comparing themselves to a royal figure and they say” You look like (?) only younger” etc and then Alexander says to his Dad that he looks ‘miserable’ and Alexander’s Dad says ” So do you, but younger.”
11. What did you think about the ending?
I liked it because in the end Alexander is sad to lose the Ghost Girl ( and her dog ) and talks about how his Uncle died shortly after their adventures, so it seems like he has lost everything important to him, but his adventure made him wiser and less afraid of the world and more a part of it too.
12. Is the story plot driven or character driven?
13. If the book was made into a movie, what changes or decisions would you hope for?
Pecks makes it clear that Blossom and her Mom were exotic looking- in the movies and book covers she’s your typical midwestern looking girl. Peck goes into great detail about what the characters look like so I was surprised to see this changed. I’d change it back.
14. How did the book change you?
I can’t say that it did, but I did learn a lot about writing from it.
15. If the book is part of a series, how does it stand on its own?
All of the books about Alexander and Blossom are stand alone. When you do read them together it’s like running into friend on accident and you end up having a very enjoyable visit.
Books in the series: