I was only six years old when we made that memorable trip, but so much of it is still fresh in my mind. I think the Louisiana bayous affect people that way. I remember well the Spanish moss hanging from the Live Oaks, and the tour we took of a cemetery in New Orleans, the thick walls and the above-ground crypts. I also will never forget the endless view of water as we crossed the Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge. Forgive me if that's the wrong terminology for it.
When I read The Legend of Ghost Dog Island by Rita Monette, highlights from that trip rushed back to me. The time I spent with her characters took me back to a very special time of my childhood.
Nikki Landry, the main character in Ms. Monette's middle grade novel, has few possessions that she prizes like I prize that cypress knee. She has her little dog, Snooper, but not much else. It's difficult to accumulate material possessions when you live on a small houseboat. Nikki's mother has her special dishes that she keeps packed up most of the time, although she does bring them out whenever the family is going to stay docked for a while.
Most of Nikki's time is spent with her dog, because she rarely gets to stay in one place long enough to gather friends. She did have a best friend back at their old home in Pierre Part, but something went wrong with that relationship. Nikki often misses her old friend, but she's pretty sure their friendship's beyond mending. Better to pack it away like her mother's dishes. She and Snooper can get along just fine on their own.
But when Snooper goes missing, Nikki reaches beyond the limits of her comfort zone to ask two of the local kids to help in her search. She needs to find Snooper before whatever it is over on the island turns him into a ghost dog.
I enjoyed this novel. The voice is engaging and is just right for the age range, in my opinion. The book is also well written, which is a definite plus for me.
I did become a little bit confused at one point, because for some reason I had envisioned the orphanage as being on the island - where the witch lives. But I soon realized my mistake, and the way Ms. Monette tied the haunted orphanage in with the happenings on the island worked out quite well. I especially loved the witch; and am glad that Ms. Monette included a pencil sketch of her, because it made her more real, and a bit less frightening than she was at the point of casting spells.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good read. And I'm really pleased about the shoes. If you've read it already, you know what I'm talking about.