CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 40. . . .June 15, 2018
Sir Simon: Super Scarer.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, Sept. 4, 2018.
48 pp., hardcover & EPUB, $21.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-101-91909-5 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-101-91910-1 (EPUB).
Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.
Review by Reagan Kapasi.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Ever seen a light flicker or maybe heard a door slam? Well those things aren’t happening by themselves! Us ghosts have a strict schedule for chores. 1:15am stomping in the Attic. 1:55 am: Flushing the toilets. 2:10am: Hiding and moving things around. 3:00am: Standing creepy in the window wearing old-timey clothes.
This hilarious story of a ghost, Sir Simon, getting his first job haunting a house, turns out to be a thoughtful tale of friendship.
Sir Simon is initially disappointed that the new house tenants are not simply the ideal old person: “Old People - Pro: sleep all the time; Con: None!” Sir Simon is worried about having to haunt a house where a curious child also lives . But Sir Simon quickly realizes that this eager child, named Chester, can be useful to him because he can trick the boy into doing all his ghostly chores (see excerpt). By getting Chester to do his chores, Sir Simon is free to do what he wants to do, and those are things that you wouldn’t expect a ghost to be interested in. They include cross stitching, painting, eating pizza, learning French, and writing a best-selling novel!
Unfortunately, poor Chester does not make a very good ghost, but the antics that ensue make for funny storytelling. For example, Chester makes himself a sandwich instead of banging pots and pans, he waves at squirrels instead of haunting in the window, and he writes friendly messages on the bathroom mirror. In the end, he falls asleep from trying to do all these chores throughout the night, and Sir Simon puts Chester to bed and realizes that he is a pretty cool kid.
The next day, Simon, feeling bad for making Chester do all his chores, offers to do some of Chester’s chores in return. Unfortunately [again], Sir Simon does not make a very good boy as he mixes up all of Chester’s chores. Sir Simon is shown dumping the trash out the window, breaking dishes instead of cleaning them, and getting stuck in the laundry machine while trying to clean clothes.
After Sir Simon’s day of trying to do Chester’s chores, he says, “Chester isn’t the best at being a ghost, and I’m not so hot at being a human. But it turns out we are both pretty good at being friends.” The pair play ukuleles, board games, do portrait paintings, learn French together and write stories.
The illustrations in the story are beautiful and very detailed, think Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. There are often collage scenes wherein Simon and Chester will be drawn in multiple frames on one page, an approach which can be slightly confusing to little children, and thus we recommend an older audience of ages 6-9 years old to be able to really appreciate the illustrations. The textures in the illustrations will capture the attention of children on your lap or will work as a fun search-and-find for groups of children. With familiar images from around the inside of a house, Sir Simon: Super Scarer is the perfect opener to getting children involved in household responsibilities (aka chores!). This story works year round, not just during Halloween themed activities, as it touches upon other themes in addition to explaining how ghosts try to scare us. Sir Simon Spookington’s business card reads, “Sir Simon, Super Scarer, Ghostest with the Mostest”, and readers will get an insider’s peek at how not scary ghosts really are. In fact, they are hilarious!
Reagan Kapasi is a Youth Librarian at Toronto Public Library’s Riverdale branch in Toronto, ON. Reagan has also worked as the Director of Inventory and Outreach for The Children’s Book Bank, a children’s literacy charity that gives away free books to children and families in high needs, Toronto neighbourhoods.
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