Avi’s book, Something Upstairs, isn’t very thick in terms of number of pages. For some kids this is the kind of book they are looking for. Few in page count, but full when it comes to plot and character development.
I was already feeling for Kenny Huldorf. I imagine a young boy having to move from Los Angeles to Providence, Rhode Island. I like how he mentions that Los Angeles wouldn’t even fit into the state of Rhode Island.
The kid accepted his fate, especially since his parents gave him a really cool room in the attic of this very old house, the largest space he’s ever had. He didn’t seem mad at being pulled away from his friends. Maybe he’s a rare teen that doesn’t mind being the new kid on the block and has a pretty good self-esteem. Doesn’t seem possible, but who knows.
Maybe I’ve not been around too many twelve-year-old boys, but would it be common for the boy to not flip out when in the middle of the night he hears scraping and scratching noise coming from a small room where the slaves were kept. He never went to his parents, but instead went to check it out himself.
If I were to see a couple of hands and arms come from a stain on the wood floor, I’d probably either pee on myself and or run screaming my fool head off. I highly doubt that I would be composed enough to stick around and watch a ghost come all the way out of the floor, and then have a civil conversation.
Caleb, the Ghost of a Slave, isn’t very nice to Kenny. Why should he? He’d been treated so badly by whites, why would this interaction be any different even if we’re talking hundreds of years had passed.
Even with these doubts, I enjoyed reading the story and how Kenny helped Caleb solve the mystery of who killed Caleb, freeing him from being imprisoned in this old house. Free to go where. Avi doesn’t really say.