About the Book
Just before he begins sixth grade, Billy Broccoli has to deal with a new house, a new stepfamily, a new middle school, and a new neighborhood bully. He has no friends until Hoover Porterhouse appears — out of thin air! Hoover haunts Billy’s new bedroom, but for a ghost, he’s pretty cool. Hoover is always ready to give Billy advice about fashion, girls, baseball, and — especially — bullies.
On the first day of school, bully Rod Brownstone begins his mission to humiliate Billy. When Rod steals Billy’s preserved tonsil and gives it to the girl Billy has a crush on, Hoover decides to seek revenge for his friend. He floats into Rod’s bedroom, spirits away the remains of Rod’s baby blanket, and hatches a plot to humiliate the bully.
Just when they are ready to exact revenge, Billy thinks again about the right thing to do. He negotiates a truce with Rod, teaches the Hoove a much-needed lesson, and enters the school full of new-found confidence — until he walks smack into the door. The offbeat humor of Billy and his ghost buddy continues in the next installment of this new series.
About the Author
Henry Winkler may be best known for his acting role as the Fonz in the hit series Happy Days and for his roles in films such as Holes and The Waterboy. However, Winkler is also an award-winning producer and director of children’s programming, as well as an entertainment industry leader committed to children’s welfare.
With his coauthor, Lin Oliver, Winkler created the Hank Zipzer series about a fourth-grader who struggles with learning differences. The character is inspired by Winkler’s own experiences growing up with undiagnosed dyslexia. Lin Oliver is the coauthor along with Henry Winkler of the New York Times bestselling middle-grade series, Hank Zipzer, as well as Ghost Buddy. Lin resides in Los Angeles, California, where she is also involved in television production.
Teaching the Book
Billy Broccoli has just moved into a new house; however, there’s a problem . . . he has to share his bedroom with a ghost! At first, the funny phantom from another century gets on Billy’s nerves — until he turns into Billy’s ghost buddy. This humorous novel provides an opportunity to teach the genre of fantasy, the skill of problem and solution, and the use of vivid verbs. Activities will engage students in suspense writing, historical research, and dramatics.
Genre Focus: Fantasy
Comprehension Focus: Problem and Solution
Language Focus: Vivid Verbs
Get Ready to Read
Fantasy vs. Realistic Fiction
Engage students’ interest and build background knowledge about the genre of fantasy by drawing on their prior knowledge about fantasy vs. realistic fiction. On chart paper or the white board, write two headings: Fantasy and Realistic Fiction.
Ask volunteers to discuss the terms, helping them clarify the definitions. Explain that fantasy has imaginative characters and situations that could not exist in the real world. Realistic fiction has characters and situations that do exist in the real world.
Ask students to list books and movies or TV shows that are examples of both fantasy (Harry Potter, Shrek, Star Trek) and realistic fiction (Ramona, Cam Jansen).
Preview and Predict
Display the cover of Ghost Buddy: Zero to Hero and ask students how they can tell this book is going to be a fantasy. Have them use the title and illustration to predict what might happen in the book.
Explain that vivid verbs describe actions in a way that adds interest and excitement to a story. They help readers picture what is happening in their minds. Encourage students to look for clues in the text to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words and have them check the dictionary definitions. Use the Ghost Buddy: Zero to Hero Vocabulary Cards printable and distribute copies to students.
Words to Know
Read aloud the following context sentences for the vocabulary words. Ask volunteers to give their definitions of each word. Discuss why the word is a better choice to describe the action than a more ordinary one.
- Why would I even want to touch your infested baseball gear? It reeks. (p. 13)
- Billy finally found his voice and shrieked like a five-year-old. (p. 20)
- Unfortunately, Billy had forgotten to unplug the clock before he flung it, and it boomeranged back at him, heading right for his face. (p. 21)
- His voice quivered even though he was trying to sound composed. (p. 23)
- Hoover whooshed down the paper-goods aisle . . . (p. 41)
- But a closed door was no barrier for Hoover Porterhouse, who zipped into Billy’s room right after him. (p. 80)
- Breeze pounced on Billy like a tiger. (p. 96)
- Yet there was something gnawing at him. (p. 138)
As You Read
Reading the Book
Read aloud several pages from the first chapter of the book, asking the class to follow along. Then ask students what they’ve learned about Billy. What is he like? Who are the other characters in the book so far? Do they think the book is going to be scary? Or funny?
Assign students to read the book independently. Encourage them to share questions and reactions with a partner.
Big Question: Critical Thinking
Ask students to think about this question as they read and be ready to answer it when they’ve finished the book. Write the question on chart paper or have students write it in their reading journals. Do you think Billy’s ghost buddy is just in his imagination?
Identify Problem and Solution
The plot of Ghost Buddy develops as Billy Broccoli and the talented ghost Hoover encounter and solve one problem after another problem. Help students identify the problems and the solutions in the novel that create conflict and interest. Also guide them to analyze what Billy’s solutions tell about his character.
Use the graphic organizer on the Ghost Buddy: Zero to Hero Identifying Problem and Solution Worksheet printable to model for students how to think about the problems and solutions in a work of fiction.
Not long after Billy moves into his new bedroom, he discovers that his roommate is a ghost. At first, Billy is pretty freaked out and shrieks and hides under the covers. Then his curiosity gets the better of him and he gets to know and even like Hoover. What does this tell us about Billy? Even though he’s scared at first, he is brave enough to get to know a ghost—and he’s smart enough to let Hoover help him.
Have students fill in the rest of the solutions for the remaining three problems. Explain that they should fill in how Billy attempts to solve each problem and then how he solves it in the end. Discuss students’ answers and what they tell about Billy’s character.
After You Read
Questions to Discuss
Lead students in a discussion of these focus story elements.
What character in the book makes it a fantasy? (Hoover Porterhouse) What makes Hoover almost seem like he is real? (His jokes, his interest in baseball, etc.) What makes him seem like he is a fantasy character? (He walks through walls, disappears, etc.)
2. Problem and Solution
Billy and Hoover have very different approaches to solving problems. What do they learn from each other? (Answers will vary.)
3. Vivid Verbs
What are two vivid verbs for the word “yelled?” (shrieked, howled) What are two vivid verbs for the word “run?” (sprint, scurry)
Questions to Share
Encourage students to share their responses with a partner or small group.
1. Text to Self
Do you think that Billy made the right choice concerning Rod’s baby blanket? Why or why not?
2. Text to World
How is Billy’s school alike and different from your school?
3. Text to Text Compare
Ghost Buddy to another book you have read about a ghost. Or compare it with another humor book you have read. Which do you like best? Why?
Don't Forget the Big Question
Give each student an opportunity to answer the big question. Encourage students to support their answers with details and evidence from the text. Tell them there is no one right answer. Do you think Billy’s ghost buddy is just in his imagination?
My Ghost Buddy
Assign students to create their own idea of a ghost buddy. Explain that they can choose a ghost from any time in history, and even the recent past. Have them imagine what they would want their ghost to be like, since it will be living with them in their bedrooms. Make copies of the Ghost Buddy: Zero to Hero Writing Activity printable and distribute to students. Read the directions and answer any questions to clarify the activity.
Content Area Connections
Encourage students who are baseball fans like Billy and Hoover to research and compare some statistics about their favorite teams. Ask them to research five or six sets of statistics — such as wins, losses, RBIs, etc. — for the past decade. Then have them rank each set of statistics by year. Encourage students to compare their results.
99 Years Ago
Hoover Porterhouse lived in Billy’s house 99 years ago when it was part of a large ranch. Challenge students to find out if their homes were standing a century ago. If not, what was on the land? Provide students with historical information about their community and, if possible, old photographs. Some students may be interested in researching more about the 1910s. See photos of working children at the time.
The dialogue and action in Ghost Buddy are written by two producers of television shows. Students will have fun acting out chapters or scenes of the book as a TV comedy. Chapters 6 and 7 have several characters, lots of action, and good dialogue. Assign students to the parts and help them turn the dialogue and action into a TV episode of Ghost Buddy.
Top Ten Fantasy Creatures
Have partners work together to create a list of their top ten favorite fantasy creatures from books, movies, TV, or computer games. Use the lists as a discussion starter about fantasy creatures and why they are so popular.
Reading and Writing Connection
Remind students that most ghost stories are scary, not funny. Ghost stories usually have suspenseful moods and creepy settings. Ask students to write a scary version of a story about a kid moving into an old house that is haunted. How could they make the house and the kid’s bedroom creepy? What vivid verbs might they use to create a mood of suspense? Have students share their stories with each other and discuss what makes each scary.
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