Chapter 1: What’s with Mom and Beckett?
One . . . two . . . three . . . GLOW!” Little John shouted.
It was nighttime, and all the solid people who lived above the library were asleep. Kaz hovered in the library entryway with his mom, pops, and little brother. They were all glowing.
Kaz scrunched up his face. He gritted his teeth. He squeezed his hands into tight fists. And he tried, tried, tried
to glow like the rest of his family. But no matter what he did, no matter how hard he tried, Kaz couldn’t glow.
“I know you can do this,” Mom told Kaz as the glow faded from her body.
“You’ve mastered all your other ghost skills,” Pops said.
It was true. Kaz could wail now. He could also pass through solid walls and pick up solid objects. He could even transform solid objects into ghostly objects.
Back when he and his family lived in the old schoolhouse, Kaz couldn’t do any of those things. He could only shrink and expand.
So much had happened since then.
Kaz remembered how he and his brothers used to swim around the old schoolhouse. His big brother, Finn, liked to scare Kaz and Little John by sticking an arm or a leg through the Outside wall. But one day Finn stuck his head a little too far through the wall, and the wind pulled him all the way into the Outside. Grandmom and Grandpop tried to rescue him, but they couldn’t. The wind blew them all away.
After that, Mom and Pops tried even harder to teach Kaz his ghost skills. But before Kaz had learned any new skills, the old schoolhouse was torn down. Kaz and the rest of his family ended up in the Outside, and they all got separated in the wind.
The wind blew Kaz to the library, where he met Beckett, the other ghost who lived there, and Claire. Claire was a solid girl, just Kaz’s age. She could see ghosts when they weren’t glowing, and she could hear ghosts when they weren’t wailing. No one knew why.
Claire and Kaz started a detective agency to solve ghostly mysteries and try to find Kaz’s missing family. They’d found Kaz’s parents last week. Now Finn was the only one left to find. Kaz was worried he’d never see Finn again.
“It’s getting light outside,” Pops said now. “It won’t be long before Claire wakes up. Try again, son.”
“This time don’t squeeze your hands together,” Mom suggested. “And don’t grit your teeth. It’s hard to glow when you’re all tensed up. Let the glow flow through your skin.”
“I don’t know what that means,” Kaz said.
“You don’t know what what
means?” Beckett asked as he wafted into the entryway. “Oh!” he said when he saw Kaz’s mom. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were in here.”
“It’s okay,” Mom said tightly. Now she was the one who was all tensed up.
Kaz and Little John had hardly seen Beckett since their parents had come to the library. For some reason, Beckett and Mom didn’t like to be around each other.
“We’re trying to teach Kaz how to glow,” Little John told Beckett. “Maybe you can help?”
Beckett shook his head. “I don’t think so.” He turned to leave.
“Why not?” Kaz asked. Before Kaz’s parents had arrived, Beckett used to work with Kaz on his ghost skills all the time.
But Beckett wafted away without answering.
Kaz turned to his mom. “Why don’t you and Beckett like each other?” he asked.
“What are you talking about?” Mom asked, not quite meeting Kaz’s gaze. “Beckett and I like each other just fine.”
“It doesn’t seem like it,” Little John said.
“You never want to be in the same room together,” Kaz pointed out.
you two know each other, anyway?” Pops asked.
Mom shrugged like it was no big deal. “We spent some time together when we were kids.”
“And . . . ?” Little John waved his hand for Mom to go on.
“And nothing,” Mom said. “It was a long time ago.”
Kaz could tell there was more to the story than that. What would it take to get Mom or Beckett to tell the rest of the story?
“Are you ghosts ready to go to Valley View?” Claire asked later that afternoon. It was Sunday and she had promised to take Kaz, Little John, and their parents to visit Grandmom and Grandpop at the nursing home. Mom and Pops hadn’t seen Grandmom and Grandpop in so long. Woof! Woof!
“Okay, Cosmo,” Kaz said, grabbing his dog around the middle. “You can come, too.”
The whole family shrank down . . . down . . . down . . . and swam into Claire’s water bottle. It was a tight squeeze.
Claire flung the strap from the bottle over her shoulder and called to her family, “I’m going to visit people at Valley View!”
“That’s nice, honey,” Grandma Karen called back. “Be back in time for dinner.”
Claire walked down the street, her water bottle swinging over her shoulder. She stopped for a red light near the fire station.
“Hey, remember when we got to see the fire trucks, Kaz?” Little John asked, glancing over at the fire station. Unfortunately, the big fire doors were closed, so Little John couldn’t see the trucks inside.
“Yes,” Kaz said. “I also remember that you got lost inside one of those trucks for a while.”
“You did?” Mom’s eyebrows shot up.
“I wasn’t really lost,” Little John said. “I knew where I was.”
“Yeah, but I
didn’t know where you were,” Kaz said. “Just like when we were looking for the five o’clock ghost and you went inside that house and didn’t come out.” That was the first case Little John had helped Kaz and Claire solve.
“It’s good that you thought I was lost that day because that made you pass through the wall to come find me,” Little John said.
Kaz couldn’t argue with that. For a long time, he didn’t like passing through walls. It made him feel all skizzy inside. But the more Kaz did it, the easier it got.
“It sounds like you boys have had a lot of adventures since we’ve been apart,” Mom said as Claire turned onto Forest Street.
“We have,” Kaz agreed. He turned all around inside Claire’s water bottle. “In fact, this is where I first saw Cosmo. Claire and I were inside that house over there.” He pointed. “The lady who lives there thought she had a ghost in her attic, so she hired us to come find it. I looked out her window and that’s when I saw Cosmo. He was right here. Right where we are now. Except he wasn’t in a water bottle. He was just floating around in the Outside.” Woof! Woof!
Cosmo barked, his tail wagging.
“I think he remembers!” Little John said.
“How did you ever catch him?” Mom asked.
But before Kaz could answer, a voice yelled from the window next door, “Hey! Hey, you! You’re that girl who solves ghostly mysteries, aren’t you? Come here! I’ve got a case for you.”
Copyright © 2016 by Dori Hillestad Butler; illustrated by Aurore Damant. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.