Review by BRIGITTE ROZARIO
Zero to Hero
By Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
For parents who remember watching Happy Days on TV, starring Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham and Henry Winkler as Fonzie, this book will bring back some memories.
While it is nowhere near the premise of Happy Days, the Fonz is very much in this book – or at least, the coolness he epitomises.
Ghost Buddy is about Billy Broccoli, 11, whose mum just remarried. He finds himself with a dentist stepfather and a stepsister named Breeze, 13, who is cool and popular. The book starts off with the family moving to a new house, which means Billy gets a new school, too.
Billy is at that awkward stage where everything he does and says seems uncool and he is just plain hopeless with girls.
Before he even steps into the new house, Billy meets his neighbour – a kid by the name of Rod Brownstone whom he immediately takes a disliking to and who has no qualms showing him who's boss.
In the house, Billy has other problems. His room is lavender and pink! In addition, the cupboard smells of orange juice and worst of all, he has a live-in ghost. Hoover Potterhouse III, or the Hoove for short, is 14 and he's been living as a ghost in the house for the past 99 years.
To get to “the other side,” he needs to pass a test – haunting skills, invisibility, helping others, responsibility and personal grooming. If he doesn't pass all his subjects within 100 years, he would be permanently “grounded.” So, he's got one year to do it.
The two subjects the Hoove really needs to work on are responsibility and helping others.
This is where Billy comes in. The Hoove's assignment is to help Billy.
The Hoove is everything that Billy is not. He was good at baseball, is cool and confident.
It is up to Hoove to help Billy with his dressing, making sure he knows how to greet others with that cool nod rather than the frantic and dorky wave and most importantly how to talk to girls like Ruby Baker, whom Billy fancies.
Easy enough, right?
Wrong. Rod wants to be the coolest and most popular boy with the girls and doesn't like it when Billy starts looking like the competition. Plus, coolness just doesn't come naturally to Billy.
Despite knowing that one of the co-authors is Winkler, I did not have any preconceived expectations of the book. The Fonz and Happy Days was a long time ago and I've since seen Winkler in other roles – the most recent being a matchmaker uncle in a Christmas TV movie.
So, I was surprised to find that Hoove's dialogue reminded me so much of the Fonz. I could just hear Winkler's Fonzie voice saying most of what the Hoove said.
I'm not sure if Winkler had intended this but I guess Fonzie, being the coolest dude ever, just naturally came out in this Hoove character.
I liked the premise of a cool ghost trying to help an awkward boy.
This is the first book in the Ghost Buddy series. It is definitely a good read. The characters are well fleshed out, the story is interesting, albeit a tad predictable.
I can see the potential it has to be turned into a movie or TV series.
This series, for kids aged eight to 12, is a nice change from Geronimo Stilton. However, I think it will appeal more to boys who are a bit older – 11 or so. The younger kids will still love Geronimo more, as there's more fun and humour in those books, and this series is a bit more serious in subject and writing style.