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    Review of JOHNNY AND THE DEAD by Terry Pratchett

    HarperCollins, January 2006

    As Halloween approaches, Johnny Maxwell and his friends prepare by planning a party, fussing about costumes--and by visiting a graveyard. The graveyard is old and largely abandoned--except by the dead. And the city has sold the property to a corporation in hopes of creating jobs. But when Johnny, jokingly, knocks on one of the grave monuments, he's greeted by one of the dead. They don't like the idea of their graveyard being turned into an office building and instruct Johnny to do something about it.

    Even Johnny's friends refuse to believe that he actually saw the dead (they aren't ghosts or zombies, just even-more-senior citizens). But their urging persuades Johnny to speak up at a hearing about the planned construction--as well as learn more about the most recent man to die, a former World War I soldier who was the only survivor of his regiment.

    Author Terry Pratchett (see more reviews of novels by Pratchett) continues his Johnny Maxwell series with a cute and funny story about history, urban development, early-teen friendships, and war. JOHNNY AND THE DEAD is intended for young readers, but should appeal to adults as well. It's themes are even more current for it's re-release in 2006 than they were in 1993 when this book was first issued. In particular, adults are likely to find the antics of the dead--and their growth as they, inspired by Johnny, begin to step beyond the boundaries of their graveyard, to hold some important lessons for those of us who let day-to-day life get in the way of actually living.

    JOHNNY AND THE DEAD is a short book, and it certainly lacks the magnitude of Pratchett's Discworld universe, but it is an enjoyable work in its own right.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 5/24/06

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