Monday, October 27, 2014

Scholastic Fest: #2, The Ghost that Came Alive

  • Title: The Ghost that Came Alive
  • Author: Vic Crume
  • Illustrator: Ethel Gold
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services
  • Year: 1975
  • Excerpt:
    "What do you think you're doing here?" Miss Cliff rasped.

    Jenny thought fast. "Actually, we wanted to get ready for lunch — brush our hair and see if we looked okay. But with those shutters closed in our rooms we couldn't see ourselves in the mirrors. So we thought we'd look for a room that isn't closed up."

    Before Miss Cliff could reply, Chris spoke. "Do you happen to have a match for candles, Miss Cliff? That would be a big help."

    "Botheration!" But she reached into her apron pocket and brought out several kitchen matches.

    "If you hadn't put us in a room with nailed-up shutters we wouldn't be such a botheration, I guess," Jenny replied, holding out her hand for the matches.

    Miss Cliff scowled. "I shall light the candles myself, and shall wait for you to brush your hair."
  • Notes: You shouldn't be surprised to find this Scholastic book occupying the #2 spot in the countdown. Spooky covers will always have a spot close to my heart. This one, by illustrator Ethel Gold, was obviously a labor of love, with its level of detail. And are those two eyes above the house, just to the left of the lightning strike? Or maybe I'm just seeing things. This is Gold's second appearance in the Scholastic Fest Top 25. I believe she is alone in that honor. Sadly, however, I don't know anything more about her life than I did a week ago, when Mystery by Moonlight was featured. Someday, maybe, someone with information about Gold will stumble upon one of these blog posts and drop us a line. ... I am sorry to say that we also know very little about the author, Vic Crume. We do know that he or she wrote numerous novelizations of children's movies, including The Parent Trap, Unidentified Flying Oddball, Million-Dollar Duck1, The Mystery in Dracula's Castle, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, The Billion Dollar Hobo and C.H.O.M.P.S., which was one of the oddest and most memorable movies of my childhood and starred Wesley Eure of Land of the Lost fame. ... The Ghost that Came Alive appears to be one of Crume's few original titles (as opposed to novelizations). In the excerpt above and in the bits of the book that I have read, it has a bit of a Scooby Doo vibe, with its teenagers in jeopardy and a mystery involving a house that might or might not be haunted. ... But who was Crume? The closest I've come to an answer thus far is courtesy of 2004 post on a Google message board. Here it is:
    "I wasn't able to come up with much, but I was able to find out that Vic Crume could have been Victoria Crume (who has authored some books and can be found on various websites). I can also tell you I was able to find out that 'a' Victoria Crume died in 1979. Whether it's the same Victoria Crume as the author and whether Victoria Crume & Vic Crume are, in fact, the same people I don't know. Maybe it's a start though? Hope that helps. Allen."
    So if we ever crack this mystery, we'll have to be sure to give Allen credit, too. ... However it all turns out, we can thank Crume and Gold for the existence of this mid-1970s Scholastic paperback.

1. The 1971 Disney movie starring Dean Jones and Sandy Duncan is titled The Million Dollar Duck. The Scholastic novelization by Crume is titled Million-Dollar Duck, with a hyphen. And in the "Other Books by Vic Crume" section of The Ghost that Came Alive, the book is incorrectly referred to as The Million-Dollar Egg. I just like pointing these inconsequential things out.

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