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Grade 5-7–In this sequel to Only You Can Save Mankind (HarperCollins, 2005), 12-year-old Johnny discovers that he can see, hear, and communicate with spirits in the town cemetery. The cemetery, the only spot of unblighted land in the town, is about to be bulldozed and developed by a large corporation, so Johnny and his friends set about trying to save it (and its denizens) from destruction. Unfortunately, no one particularly famous was ever buried there, so the boys' publicity plan seems doomed–until the dead take things into their own innovative and rebellious hands, and Johnny finds the courage to take a stand against all odds. Fans of Gregory Maguire's books will appreciate the tongue-in-cheek tone and wry humor, and the quarrelsome yet friendly chatter among the dead spirits is reminiscent of Eva Ibbotson's titles. The plot (kids versus big corporation, à la Carl Hiassen) is tied up rather too neatly, but that's beside the point. Readers will take immense pleasure in the jokes, some broad and some subtle and dry, that come sailing at them from all sides. This book stands alone easily, but after reading it, kids will want the first one.–Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
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Gr. 5-8. In the previous volume of the Johnny Maxwell trilogy, Only You Can Save Mankind (2005), aliens solicited Johnny's help. Here Johnny is buttonholed by dead people worried about a developer's plans to bulldoze their cemetery. Assisted by three skeptical but loyal sidekicks, Johnny delves into city history and mounts an eloquent plea for preservation, while the ghosts revel in modern technology and pop culture. Aspects of the telling are imperfectly blended, especially the thread involving Johnny's ineffable sense of connection to a local battalion decimated in World War I. Nonetheless, Pratchett's fans will revel in the idiosyncratic touches, such as the quirky euphemisms for dead ("breathily challenged," "post-senior citizens"), and his thematic juggling act, which incorporates wit and slapstick, philosophies of the afterlife, and a gritty view of a struggling, working-class community ("The point about being dead in this town is that it's probably hard to tell the difference"). First published in England in the early 1990s, which accounts for some dated references, the trilogy was previously available to U.S. readers only in a book-club edition. Jennifer Mattson
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Johnny Maxwell is just a normal twelve-year old kid, or at least he tries to be. Things just seem to happen to him that don't happen to anyone else - aliens inside a computer game... Read morePublished on July 25 2006 by Daniel Jolley
My nine year old son has to do an oral book report a week so I'm always looking for things that might interest him. Read morePublished on Dec 5 2000 by Kilgore Gagarin
In the second book about Johnny Maxwell, a 12 year old who is aware of things most people just don't notice, he finds more than he expects when he wanders into the local cemetery. Read morePublished on Sept. 20 2000 by Kathleen Cobcroft