From School Library Journal
Grade 5-7 A ghost story of redeeming social value: when 12-year-old Kenny Huldorf moves with his family to Providence, Rhode Island, he finds himself embroiled in the century-old murder of a teenage slave named Caleb. Not only is Kenny haunted by the injustice of the murder, but also by the ghost of Caleb himself, who summons Kenny back in time to the early 19th Century, where the boy must solve Caleb's murder to return to his own century. How Kenny does this is the stuff of a somber and ambiguous conclusion upon which Avi intrudes himself as a character as he has earlier done at the book's beginning. Why Avi has chosen to do this is debatableperhaps to reinforce the reality of the social issue, slavery, which drives the narrative. In any event, as a literary device it compromises an otherwise carefully constructed tale, just as the too obvious employment of Caleb as both character and symbol tends to compromise his viability as a character. Nevertheless Something Upstairs is an intelligent and well-intentioned effort. It can provoke discussion of the issues articulated above as well as how, finally, violence visits the lives of both Caleb and Kenny and how Kenny, through choice and circumstance, may have become a slave himself. Michael Cart, Beverly Hills Public Library
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an alternate
About the Author
Avi's many award-winning books for young readers include the Newbery Medal winner Crispin: The Cross of Lead, as well as the Newbery Honor Books nothing but the truth and the true confessions of charlotte doyle. He is the author of the beloved Poppy books, an animal adventure series that includes Ragweed, Poppy (winner of the Boston GlobeHorn Book Award), Poppy and Rye, Ereth's Birthday, and Poppy's Return. His critically acclaimed novels also include Don't You Know There's a War On? and the hilarious animal fantasy The Mayor of Central Park. Avi lives in Denver, Colorado.