For six generations, the Campbell family has handled the funerals in the small town of Clover, Massachusetts. But, in The Funeral Director's Son, Coleen Murtagh Paratore's juvenile novel, that tradition could come to an end. There's now a competing funeral home, Golden's, and, worst of all, Christopher "Kip" Campbell doesn't want to take over the family business.
Do you know what it's like to live over a funeral home? Kip didn't mind until about age nine, when suddenly he was the butt of jokes, and kids didn't want to come over to his house. At twelve, he does have his own small group of friends, but that doesn't make it any easier to be the son of the funeral director. And, Kip has a secret. Recently, he's been able to "hear" the dead. He seems to know what the dead need in order to move on to a better place. He wants to get rid of his "gift", but he "hears" a promise, his weight in gold if continues to help the dead for another year. But, why does the mean old man, Billy Blye, have to be the next dead man with a secret?
In a story reminiscent of the best of Richard Peck, Paratore introduces readers to a typical boy, with a special talent. He's all boy, though, with his secret clubhouse, his group of friends, his humor, and the older sister he can't stand. Most readers in the nine to thirteen age group won't appreciate the references to Charles Dickens, but adult readers will. The Funeral Director's Son has a comfortable, middle-class-family, and a story with a touch of magic. It's a book with ghosts, dead bodies in a funeral home, a clubhouse in a cemetery, a little mystery, and secret gold. What more does a reader need?
Coleen Paratore's website is www.coleenparatore.com
The Funeral Director's Son by Coleen Murtagh Paratore. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ©2008. ISBN 9781416935940 (hardcover), 134p.