I read lots of books that I love. These days, I don’t tend to waste my time with anything that doesn’t impress me or inspire me, or at the very least, entertain me. This said, not every book makes me happy. Barrie Summy’s books make me happy. Her Sherry Holmes Baldwin mysteries are feel-good stories. They’re clever and funny and utterly delightful (read my review of the first in the series, I So Don’t Do Mysteries here). This is why I am glad that Barrie is writing a whole bunch for us (right now, the third title, I So Don’t Do Makeup, is scheduled for release in May 2010). When I So Don’t Do Spooky showed up in my mailbox a few weeks back, I dropped all of the other books I had going (well, actually I just shoved them to the side for a while), and got straight into Sherry’s latest adventure.
Sherry’s first mystery experience was far from ordinary, because she solved the mystery with the help of her mom (who happens to be a ghost), and a wren (who happens to be her dead grandpa, in bird form). Good news for us that the kooky spirit of the first book is right back again in the second. Sherry’s mom is still enrolled in the Academy of Spirits (the main campus is located at a Dairy Queen in Phoenix), learning to watch out for and protect Sherry and the rest of the world. Sherry’s mom has also decided to enter the Annual Worldwide Academy Ghost Olympics, where she’ll compete against ghosts from academies all over the world, in the animal mind-control event. If her mom comes first in her division, she’ll win five minutes of “Real Time” – that’s five minutes of face-to-face time with anyone she chooses. Sherry is über-excited for her mom to win because there’s nothing she would love more than a few minutes to talk to her mother in person. But there is a lot of other stuff going on, which makes it hard for a girl to focus on one thing at a time. For example, Sherry’s stepmother Paula, aka “The Ruler,” is being stalked, and Sherry thinks it might be a student on a rival robotics team (since Paula is her school’s robotics coach). Then there’s Josh, her totally adorable boyfriend of two months, who just keeps getting cuter and cuter. In her second mystery, Sherry tries to juggle it all, even though she SO doesn’t do spooky.
Barrie Summy gets the voice pitch perfect once again, as Sherry is in so many ways a typical girl, with recognizable thoughts at the front of her mind such as, how to do better in school, how to make good choices when you’re keeping a few secrets, and how to look cute everyday. She’s sharp and relatable and once again, proves to be fast thinking and skilled in ghostly negotiations. The humour is just right and the pace never flags. It is a delicate thing to manage a plot that involves talking ghosts and animal spirits and still have it all come off as a narrative that readers will feel is rooted in a real girl’s life experiences, her ordinary and extraordinary struggles to make sense of everything that has been put on her plate. You’ll cheer for Sherry. You’ll laugh. You’ll appreciate the subtle poignancy Summy communicates in some of the scenes between Sherry and her mom, as they both wish things had turned out differently but know that they have to make the best of what they’ve got. Heartwarming, hilarious and quirky, this series is a sure pleaser for any mystery-loving tween.
I So Don’t Do Spooky is published by Delacorte Press.