Title: Sir Simon: Super Scarer
Author/Illustrator: Cale Atkinson
Published: Tundra Books, 2018
Halloween is just over a month away and it finally feels like fall this weekend, so I figured it was high time I reviewed a spooky picture book. In this case, Cale Atkinson’s book, Sir Simon: Super Scarer.
I found the delightful Simon at a brand new Toronto-based bookstore in The Junction (Moonbeam Books). If you happen to be out that way, definitely stop in. The owner was super-friendly and very, very knowledgeable about kid lit. I totally geeked out about picture books and she completely understood my obsession with kid lit. It was so nice to find a like-minded person! 😀
Anyway, the book! I recognized Cale Atkinson’s name, but I couldn’t place where from…until I read his little bio at the back of the book and realized I’d read Where Oliver Fits earlier this summer (I liked it, but not nearly as much as I like Simon.)
Yes, I really like Sir Simon Spookington. The premise of the book is funny. In a nutshell, it’s all about a ghost who has been transferred to his first haunted house. He is kind of bummed because he has a lot of hobbies (writing a thrilling novel, learning French, cross stitch, painting) and his ‘ghost chores’ are going to get in the way of his leisure time (ghost chores include creaking stairs, hiding stuff, standing creepily at windows). He is hopeful because the occupant of the house appears to be a cookie-baking granny. Old people are tops on the haunting pyramid because they sleep a lot. (Kids are bottom – they have no pros, only cons.) So Simon is looking forward to an easy assignment. Unfortunately, he gets a grandma WITH a kid. A curious kid who really wants to pretend to be a ghost. Simon decides to let Chester (the kid) help him out with ALL the ghost chores. Simon gets to do his hobbies, Chester gets to be a ghost, everyone’s happy. Right? Wrong! Chester can’t do ghost chores to save his life. Simon feels kind of bad for making Chester do his work, he helps Chester do human chores the next day. After hanging out, they realize they have some stuff in common, and become best friends. Aw.
The best parts of the book:
1. When Chester has to make scary animal sounds and decides on “Mooooo!” The girls both laughed out loud.
2. The art. I really liked the cross-section of the house, and being able to see Chester and Simon bop from room to room.
3. The subtle suggestion that Chester was in foster care and ended up with his granny. The one line about Chester getting transferred a lot too was understated, yet very powerful (helped along by the art, depicting pictures of the many different people who have been in Chester’s life).
4. Simon’s awesome ‘thrilling novel’ excerpts. The kids didn’t find them as funny as I did, but whatever. They’re not struggling writers, right?
5. The character design of Simon, Chester and the granny. They’re all just adorable. I love the last page, depicting the granny sitting on her chair, looking slightly perturbed.
Overall, this is a wonderful book. I always worry a bit about reading the girls stories with monsters/ghosts in them (that kind of make the monster/ghost seem real), but this one is a winner. Simon is the sweetest little ghost and couldn’t scare a fly (although he once had to scare a bear). If you’re looking for a terrific read for the Halloween season, pick this one up. And get it at Moonbeam Books, Toronto readers! Support your local bookstore!
Mama’s Review: 10 ghosts/10
Vivi’s Review: “I like the part where they met each other for the first time. It’s a great story.”
Lily’s Review: “I love it when he moos through the vent! That was so funny!”