There’s nothing funny about being haunted! introduces 12-year-old Henry Davenport. Using humor to bring them closer, Henry has a plan to connect with his father: Henry is writing a joke book. It’s all fun and games until he discovers a creepy doll is haunting him—a hair-raising doll with a wicked sense of humor. Bwah ha ha!
Determined to finish his book, Henry decides the only way to make that happen is to get rid of the doll. Enlisting his friends, Jasper, Makao and Sarah, they set up a trap—but discover the doll may not be the worst thing haunting Henry.
Complete at 24,000 words, this middle grade novel is ideal for the readers of the Goosebumps series. Seeking literary representation.
The first chapter:
1 | Not a laughing matter
I live in a house full of people. There’s so many, I sometimes think I could disappear and no one would notice. I share space with my mom and dad, as well as my two older twin brothers and my younger sister. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also our family dog, Gus. He’s an unusually large golden retriever with a drooling problem that we adopted last May. And then there’s me.
It may be difficult to believe that with all the people surrounding me, I could still feel alone. I wondered if I’m the only one who feels disconnected from their family. I can’t really explain it, I just feel different.
When I mentioned this to my mom, she said maybe it was because I was the middle child. And I simply hadn’t found my niche yet.
She went on to say that a niche was the place you felt most comfortable and where you thought your talents could most make a difference. I had thought about that long and hard. But, I was clueless. Not only did I not know what my niche was, but I had zero idea where to look for it.
And then one day, as I was helping my dad clean out the garage, we started cracking jokes. It started with a pun.
“Hey, Henry. Do you know what part of the car is the laziest?”
Without waiting for my answer—which I didn’t have, be gave the punch line. “The wheels, because they are always tired.”
“Good one dad. Do you why know pigs are such bad drivers?”
He had raised an eyebrow as he waited for my answer. “Because they hog the road!” I had started laughing and my dad joined in.
It had continued as we went back and forth, trying to outdo the other. By the time the garage was clean, my sides hurt from laughing so hard. As he was closing the garage door, my father had paused to tell one last joke. “I once had a fortune cookie that read, ‘Man who runs behind a car will get exhausted, but man who runs in front of car will get tired.’”
I remember thinking, This is fun. I should write a book of jokes. A joke book.
Maybe my niche could be as a writer. So, I’ve been writing the joke book for the last several months. Calling it Funny jokes from a funny kid, there’s a larger purpose to the book other than simply telling jokes, but for now, I’m keeping that to myself. I know that not many 12-year-olds write books, but now that I’ve started it, I’m determined to finish it. No matter how much I may annoy the rest of my family.
Take my 10-year-old sister, Emmy. She said my jokes are worse than my dad’s. She said that even though everyone knows that dad jokes are bad, mine are worse. I disagree.
Why do bees hum? Because they don’t know the words. Bwah-ha-ha. See? Comedy gold.
I’ve noticed that when I start writing each day, my family disappears. Maybe it’s because I like to read the jokes out loud. But you can’t tell if a joke is truly funny until you actually hear it spoken. Emmy said she doesn’t want to be my comedy guinea pig. She said too many jokes could ruin her sense of humor and she may need it later. But that doesn’t explain why my parents always find something to do when I sit down at the kitchen table to write.
Right now, they’re upstairs sorting laundry. My father said there was a lot of folding to be done, while my mom had a pressing engagement with the iron. Emmy went to her room to read. My twin brothers, Zach and Sam, went to a friend’s house to watch wrestling. So, I was all alone sitting at the kitchen table when I heard something.
Something was moving behind me in the kitchen. There was a slow creak that sounded like a kitchen cabinet opening ever-so-slowly. I didn’t turn around, but kept writing.
I couldn’t help but shiver as I wondered what could possibly be moving behind me. I really didn’t want to turn around. What if I saw someone—or something? I kept trying to write, but none of the jokes were funny anymore. Note to self: never tell jokes to a terrified audience. They’re not going to laugh.
Not again. I could feel my heart thudding in my chest. It’s like my heart wanted to pound its way out just to get away from the creaking sound. I know how it felt.
“Emmy,” I tried to call out. The word barely made a sound as I called for my sister. My throat was so dry that my voice sounded like two tree branches rubbing against each other.
Knowing she’ll never be able to hear me all the way upstairs, I had no choice. I was going to have to turn around. I grabbed onto the edge of the table with both hands. Sliding my chair back, I pulled my feet underneath and shakily stood up. Now came the hard part.
I had to turn around.