Last weekend I was setting up my Autumn/Winter reading bookcase in my living room. During the Spring and Summer I don’t use it for books. I push it into my office and use it as a catch all.
Every winter I put the shelf in my living room and I fill it with the old books that I re-read during the Winter and Fall months as well as the new books I purchased over the year on it . Of course those are my ghost stories, supernatural stories and Victorian era mysteries.
It’s a tradition for me- first of all I love to read ghost stories during the Fall and Winter and when I pull my shelf out it’s officially the start of the Halloween season for me.
This year I had a glitch.
In the move was upset to see that one of my book had finally given up the ghost ( it was a paperback and others from the set had met the same fate over the years ) the spine had cracked beyond repair and the pages were falling out, they were also turning yellow.
The book was my original copy of Blossom Culp and The Sleep of Death and I bought it when I was in my early 20’s. I had started reading The Blossom and Alexander stories by Richard Peck when they first came out when I was about 12 years old and even though they were classified as Young Adult fiction ( ages 9-12 ) I didn’t see any reason to stop reading them into my teens and even after I was old enough to drink.
There are four books in this set:
The Ghost Belonged To Me
Ghosts I Have Been
The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp
Blossom Culp and The Sleep of Death.
In the same way the Harry Potter Books were aimed at kids The Alexander and Blossom books made for great reading for any age because of the writing of Richard Peck.
These stories were a little darker then most YA fiction at the time and a bit complex – in one story Alexander sees the ghost of a suicide ( she hung herself in the kitchen because she was in love and had been rejected by her well -to- do employer ) another character runs a brothel in New Orleans and Blossom’s Mother is a fortune telling gypsy who once solved a case for the police after viewing the severed head of a murder victim- then she was run out of town for her efforts.
In another book Blossom has the chance to literally knock on a door, have it open and have a look at her future and learn her fate- which she declines to do. The idea looks simple- the question it poses is very complex and drives Sci-Fi fans into hour long conversations about that very probability- young teen Blossom knows that is a bad idea and she backs away from it.
My copy of ” The Sleep of Death ” involved an ancient Egyptian Curse, the Spirit of a teenage Egyptian princess ( which is sad, she was just a kid ) a bunch of ” mean girls” on float almost being hit by lightening and Blossom has a nightmare where she is trapped in a sarcophagus by her friend Alexander and left to die.
The Sleep of Death is a great book and I didn’t want to lose it.
I decided to go on line and order a copy when I ran across a vendor who sold books that were destined for landfills or scrap- it seemed like a great cause so I ordered my copy from them.
When I got the book I was happy to see that despite it’s age, it was in good shape and when I turned to the title page I saw that someone had written a dedication
In April of 1993 the author, Richard Peck had signed and donated a copy of this book to Twin Groves School- which with some searching I learned is located in Illinois ( which is where Richard Peck is from and where he was laid to rest after he passed away )
I felt like I had a treasure in my hands.
Richard Peck- a writer that I grew up reading, whose Ghost Stories are unsurpassed in my opinion and died a few years ago- well one of his books with his handwriting in it showed up in my mail a few days ago.
I think there’s a making for a story in this and I’m sure Richard Peck would agree.
Videos of Richard Peck giving advice on writing- which is pretty good stuff- Check it out