Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple
 
Hahn, Mary Downing.
THE OLD WILLIS PLACE : A GHOST STORY
New York : Clarion Books, 2004.
IL 5-8, RL 6.2
ISBN  0618430180

(3 booktalks)

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews
Booktalk #1

Dianna and her younger brother, Georgie, roam the grounds of the  Old Willis Place. Bound by strict rules, the two never dare to leave the premises or reveal themselves to anyone. As they watch from the shadows of the woods, another caretaker moves into the caretakerís house.  Many have come and gone, but this time itís different.  This one has a daughter Diannaís age.  As Dianna longs for the companionship of a girl her own age, she struggles with taking care of her younger brother and knowing the rules. They must never reveal themselves.  What are they afraid of? What harm could it really do?  (New Hampshire Great Stone Face 2007)

Booktalk #2

Diana and her little brother Georgie have been living in the woods behind the old Willis place, a decaying Victorian mansion, for what already seems like forever. They aren't allowed to leave the property or show themselves to anyone. But when a new caretaker comes to live there with his young daughter, Lissa, Diana is tempted to break the mysterious rules they live by and reveal herself so she can finally have a friend. Somehow, Diana must get Lissa's help if she and Georgie ever hope to release themselves from the secret that has bound them to the old Willis place for so long.  (Rebecca Caudill Young Readersí Book Award 2008)

Booktalk #3

The story is about two children, Diana and Georgie, and must live by "The Rules Their Mind gave them."

The story begins with Diana and Georgie watching the new caretaker for Oak Hill Manor, which is rumored to be haunted. They nickname the new caretaker Heron man because of his pale complexion and his long, skinny figure. Heron man has a daughter, Lissa, whom Diana would love to make friends with, although it would mean breaking "The Rules." They take Lissa's bike out for a ride at midnight. Georgie crashes it, so they throw it into the creek to hide it from Lissa. The next day, Lissa and her dad search for it, and contact the police about Lissa's stolen bike. Lissa also keeps her first diary of her life and talks about the move in and how the past two days have gone. In this chapter, they reveal Heron man's real name is Mr. Morrison. The police say the bike was probably stolen by some teenagers. Diana reveals to Lissa that she is there. The two become friends, and Lissa promises to not break any of Diana's rules. They see each other daily, although Georgie hates Diana for breaking the rules.

Lissa goes into the haunted Willis place and discovers Miss Lilian's ghost in the parlor. Diana reveals that she and Georgie are ghosts because Miss Lilian locked them in cellar and they died when Miss Lilian went to the hospital to recover from a stroke. Diana makes Lissa tell the police to bury the bodies at Mount Holly, alone with their parents. The next night, Miss Lilian apologized and the children ghosts left Oak Hill Manor. Lissa and her father moved away, but the girls never forgot each other.

The characters are Diana, Georgie, Lissa, Lissa's dad, and Miss Lillian. Diana is one of the people who Miss Lillian trapped in the cellar and throughout the book she tries to make friend with Lissa. Georgie is Diana's younger brother; throughout most of the book, he thinks she is a traitor. Lissa moved to the forest with her dad. Lissa's father doesn't play a large role in the book. Miss Lillian was the owner of the Willis; she was a mean and selfish person who trapped Georgie and Diana in the basement. At the end, the children forgave her and went with Diana, Georgie and their parents.  (Ishan,  Kk-12 student)

SUBJECTS:     Ghosts -- Fiction.
                        Haunted houses -- Fiction.
                        Brothers and sisters -- Fiction.
                        Friendship -- Fiction.
                        Ghost stories.
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