cover image Zero to Hero

Zero to Hero

Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver. Scholastic, $17.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-545-29882-7

Hank Zipzer collaborators Winkler and Oliver launch the Ghost Buddy series, introducing an endearingly uncool hero with the dorky name of Billy Broccoli. Despite his acute clumsiness and preference for wearing fart-themed T-shirts, Billy is articulate, witty, and good-hearted. None of which, unfortunately, will win him popularity in his new middle school, especially since his mother is the principal. This new series would fall clearly into the genre of silly realistic fiction were it not for the presence of a 113-year-old ghost, Hoover Porterhouse, into whose room Billy has just moved, and who undertakes the task of turning Billy into a hip and agile 11-year-old. After Billy’s initial fright, he accepts the ghost’s company and guidance while Hoover, forever age 14, struggles with his own ghostly goals. An amusing cast of broadly drawn secondary characters play their expected roles—snobby older half-sister, embarrassing mother and stepfather, pretty and kind classmate, and neighborhood bully with an embarrassing secret. Readers will root for Billy to conquer his klutziness as well as the bully; his final feel-good triumph is satisfying. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)