When I was a kid, probably grade 4 or 5, this author came and spoke to my class. This wasn’t super unusual… Robert Munsch had come to do a story-time when I was in grade 1. Which was as awesome as you’d think. Let’s take a break and listen to him tell one of my favourites shall we? 😉

So like I was saying… this local author came and did a presentation and signed copies of his books. I remember thinking it was pretty cool… but what I loved the most about it was that he told me that my name was one of his favourites because he had a daughter named Megan just like me. I had only ever met one Megan (or Meghan/Meagan/etc.) before, and she was WAY older than I was… so this was the highlight of my small existence. 🙂 This famous author guy had a daughter named Megan. How cool! 🙂

Flash forward many years… I’m in grade 12 English and I have that very same author as my English teacher. And let me just say, he was intense. Hardest teacher I’d probably ever had. Scared the living bajeezus out of me. That he had a daughter with same name as me really just didn’t seem to matter any more. But he was wicked smart. And I learned a lot. The whole class did. We learned so much, in fact, that the whole class begged him to stay on at the school (it was his last year teaching) to do our OAC class. (This was clearly back in the stone ages when we had 5 years of high school. It was better, even if it doesn’t sound like it… trust me.) Of course he refused (lame! Although he has published many more books since then… so I suppose it was worth it) and I went on to another ok teacher … who didn’t catch on to my shenanigans, didn’t push me to work harder and learn more than I wanted to, and gave me a 90 because I was smart.

Now I know what you’re thinking. ‘She’s complaining about a 90? Is she mental?’ And, ok, maybe it seems that way. But hopefully you’ll understand what I’m getting at. Hopefully you’ve had a teacher who has really pushed you beyond what you were comfortable with and helped you learn so very much about yourself and the subject they tought. This guy scared me into producing some of the best writing I had ever done. He made me think about why I felt certain ways about the books we read, and question those feelings. He did not accept my procrastinating ways, and if what I gave him was any less than the best work that I could do… well I’d just have to do it again now wouldn’t I?

And it’s completely thanks to him (and all the other teachers like him that I was so blessed to have) that I still love reading and writing and English as much as I do.

No, I didn’t have Mr. Mali as my teacher (although, how freaking cool would that have been!!), but I had this guy. Author of one of the best YA books around when I was a kid. Mr. William Bell.

book cover of "Five Days of the Ghost" by William Bell

or

new book cover of "Five Days of the Ghost" by William Bell

Five Days of the Ghost by William Bell

Summary:

Karen’s managed to survive grade 8 and just wants to spend her summer lying on the dock, swimming and soaking up the sun. But her older brother John has a different idea. He wants to start their summer vacation off with a bang by exploring the sacred Indian burial ground on an island in the middle of the lake. Karen isn’t big on scary things, but for some reason she goes along with her brother and his classmate Noah to explore the graveyard at night. This one simple trip plunges the three of them into an adventure they could never have imagined and helps Karen to finally deal with the hurt in her past.

Review:

This book is a good, quick read. It’s barely 200 pages and moves along really well, so you’ll never be bored. Mr Bell (I’ve never been able to kick the habit of calling him that…) does a fabulous job of creating cliffhanger ends for the chapters, which I have always found is the best trick an author has to stop someone from setting the book down and walking away. There are definitely spooky aspects to the tale, and a lot of history involved too. So if you like mysteries or history or both, you’ll probably like this book.

Another very cool thing is that this book is set in Orillia. For me, growing up in Orillia was good… but it wasn’t really the most happening place. But reading this story and learning about the local history really intrigued me. The other cool thing was that the places in this book are real places. Some of them don’t exist anymore (this book was first published in 1989 after all) but most of them do. The best part about the setting being local and realistic was that I could totally relate to where Karen, John and Noah lived, and that made it easier to see the world as they did. (BTW, I still think of the lit-up cross on top of the Catholic church as the bingo cross because of this book. You’ll get that when you read the book. Promise.)

I really enjoyed Karen, John and Noah as characters. Even re-reading this as an adult they still really rang true for me. I’m sure some of that is the residual fondness for them as characters I had already met in my past, but I don’t think that is the whole reason. They were complex and real and had feelings that made sense to me in the situations that they found themselves in.

All in all I’m very happy I revisited this book!

Rating: 4 of 5 star rating

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars both for how well it has stood the test of time and for the awesome nostalgia factor. Oh and for how totally great a story it is! Can’t forget that can I!

I’m sure there are books that you read when you were little that still give you the warm-fuzzies when you see them in a bookstore or at the library… this book totally does that for me. So I want you to come and get this book so that you can have the same feeling when you’re old and decrepit like me. 😉 Humour me ok?

How to get this book:

  1. book

We’ve got other books by Mr. Bell in the library too. If you’re looking for more, I’d try Crabbe or Stones. Also be on the look-out for his newest book, the sequel to Stones: Fanatics. 🙂

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