Monday, January 21, 2013

The Legend of Ghost Dog Island

A cypress knee sits in the corner of my dining room. Daddy fished it out of the Gulf of Mexico more than fifty years ago when we traveled to Louisiana for a family vacation. He hauled it all the way back home to Missouri as a souvenir for my mother. Now it's mine, and although it is simply a weathered bit of driftwood rejected by the ocean, it is a priceless keepsake for me.

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.

Buy Link

Book Trailer
Happy Reading!

Cordelia Dinsmore


Charles said...

The photo sure got my attention. I bought The Legend of Ghost Dog Island when it first came out. My grandkids can read it when I'm finished.

Rita Monette, Writer said...

Thanks for your review of my book, Cordelia. I'm so glad it brought back memories of your childhood. Louisiana is a mystical place and it's unusual sights and atmosphere seems to stay with you forever.

Hope you enjoy the book, Charles!

Rita Monette, Writer said...

Oops, sorry about the typo in the above post. I DO know it should be "its"...really I do.

Marci Boudreaux said...

Haha, Rita! Don't you love our inner editors??

Mary S. Palmer said...

Loved the story. I've done some research in Louisiana and have visited there often. Great setting for this.

Rita Monette, Writer said...

Yeah Marci...always there nagging! LOL

Thanks Mary. Glad you enjoyed it.

Cordelia Dinsmore said...

Hey - thanks for stopping by, peeps. Charles - I hope the picture isn't inappropriate. I know it looks weird, but I love that old stump.

Sharon Ledwith said...

Louisiana is a placed I'd love to go! Sounds like there so much to pull from the people and the land to create a legendary book! Kudos to Rita, and nice post, Cordelia! Loved reading your special piece of driftwood!

Rita Monette, Writer said...

That cypress knee will last forever, Cordelia. It had to have been cut for it to be floating in the gulf. They don't break or rot off on their own. If you look closely, you will see figures and faces peering back at you as if they were spirits from long ago. Seriously! I have a lot of pictures of cypress knees and I can see people in all of them. Maybe I should do a blog post on just that. lol

Cordelia Dinsmore said...

Don't I know it! I have always known there were spirits living in that weathered piece of driftwood. Thanks for the lesson, though, because I didn't know it would have been cut off. I know my dad didn't cut it until after he got it home, and then he just cut the bottom so it would sit straight on the floor. He varnished it once, but other than an occasional dusting, that's all that's ever been done to it.

I'd love to know if it came from anywhere near Nikki's home.

Rita Monette, Writer said...

Cordelia, was the bark off of it when he found it? Naturally, it is covered with bark and you have to boil it and peel it off to get that smooth surface that you can varnish. It's a technique I have yet to master. I have quite a few that I haven't gotten the bark off yet. My brother can do it though. LOL

Cordelia Dinsmore said...

I was only six at the time, so I don't recall all the details. I don't really know much about how it looked to begin with. My dad always did unexpected things like that. Of course, my mother let us pick up sea shells, not knowing there were creatures inside. We put them all in a cigar box and put them in the trunk of a black Ford. Didn't take them out until about a week after we got home, with 90 degree days. The stink filled the entire neighborhood! Such wonderful memories, like I said.

Rita Monette, Writer said...

And now you have a wonderful trophy to pass on to your kids...unlike the stinky shells.

freeloading freddie said...

Wow, if I were to name that cypress knee something else it wouldn't be that. I would name it "wooden mountain." That is if I were to name it.:)

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