School of the Dead, by Avi, is a fictional novel targeted for the juvenile audience. The storyline for “School of the Dead” begins as an idea. Avi writes, “School of the Dead is not about the school that I visited. It is about the idea that the school suggested to me”(https://www.avi-writer.com/blog/2018/02/school/). For teachers and parents/guardians, Scholastic.com provides the following reading information for this novel: “Guided Reading = V; Lexile Measure = 590L; and DRA Level = 50” https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/books/school-of-the-dead-by-avi/.
To every family function, he wears the same ensemble: a “frayed checkered shirt, red suspenders, khakis, and worn loafers with tassels” (Avi 6). He sits by himself at these gatherings. Should he engage in conversation with family members, it is usually about something strange. “…he’d talk vaguely about some group he’d just joined or the strange book he’d recently read, like Anglo-Saxon Magic or The Egyptian of Death” (Avi 7). He is the senior citizen of the family. He is “Weird Uncle Charlie.”
Life is great until Tony and his family, as a result of Uncle Charlie’s coaxing, move to San Francisco, California, a city known for the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and trolley cars. Sadly, Uncle Charlie does not move with them because he passes away. However, two major things happen before he dies. First, he stresses to Tony the importance of number seven. Secondly, while holding Tony’s hand, he says, “Here we go. Trust me.” (Avi 19) As a reader, I am thinking, “Umm…where are they going? Has Uncle Charlie lost his mind!!!” This is when the drama and suspense begin, and it involves Tony, Uncle Charlie, and the Penda School. School of the Dead comes to life.
From page 1 of this book, I was hooked. This is the second novel that I have read by Avi. I should have known that once I started reading this book, I would not be able to put it down. There are so many action shifts that my interest never waned. At first, I thought that I liked some of the characters, then I realized that I no longer liked them. I actually started liking other characters. Although I found the ending to be appropriate, I would have liked more closure about the Penda boy. To find out more about him, please read the book because he is an interesting character who forms a strong alliance with Tony.
While reading this novel, I found two interesting quotes: “Respect the past-protect the future.” “A friend is one soul in two bodies.” The first quote made me think of my grandparents. The second quote made me think of my best friend, Tillie. Moreover, I wanted answers to the following questions:
- Why does Uncle Charlie desperately want Tony to attend Penda?
- Who is Austin, the missing Penda School student?
- Why is Austin missing?
- How do the adults know about Uncle Charlie when he attended the school years before the current administration, faculty, and staff.
This book explores the issues of decision-making, honoring the requests of deceased loved ones, and whether or not ghosts are real. Therefore, if you like ghost stories, then this is a must read!
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Forever Reading’s Rating = 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟