Author Linda Thieman agreed to stop by and tell us a little bit more about her story and her writing process. This author of Katie and Kimble: A Ghost Story will be joining us again later in the month for an interview and you can expect an upcoming review from me as well. Be sure to leave any questions you might want me to ask in the comments.
Linda has put a lot of effort into making her book interactive for kids with coloring pages and other extension materials. Please visit her blog which is link at the end of the post.
Kimble: The Character Development of a Ghost
by Linda Thieman
In my opinion, one of the most rewarding things about writing the Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story series, or any series by any author, is the ability to create one’s own little world. It’s a world that the writer can keep coming back to again and again to build settings and characters.
In the case of the Katie & Kimble chapter book series (280L, RL3), Katie’s family offers a solid, normal, functional family foundation. Katie is almost 9, her brother is two, her mom works at a computer company and her dad is home for the summer because he works as a teacher. The family is much like any modern-day family, trying to switch their diets to healthier fare and putting into practice a certain level of environmental awareness on a daily basis.
When the Russells move into an old house out in the country, Katie soon discovers that they are living with Kimble, the ghost of a ten-year-old girl. When Kimble died in 1918 due to the Great Influenza, a pandemic that killed over half a million people in the U.S. alone, she was an only child, one who had been quite coddled by her well-to-do parents.
Now, after decades of being in ghostly form, Kimble’s personality still shines through. She is clearly intelligent, deciding from the first moment that she sees Katie that she needs a favor from Katie to help Kimble find out what happened to her mother. So she sets about to make friends with Katie by leaving Katie small gifts of Kimble’s own belongings. One young reader called this decision by Kimble to reveal herself gradually a “smart choice” in that it intrigued Katie but did not scare her.
One of the personal gifts that Kimble leaves for Katie is a dreidel, a spinning top that Jewish children play with during Hanukah. From this, Katie figures out that Kimble was Jewish. This is a big part of Kimble’s identity and throughout the first two Katie & Kimble books (the second being Katie & Kimble: The Magic Wish), Kimble matter-of-factly informs the Russells exactly what it means to be Jewish. It is important to Kimble that the Russells really know her and what was important to her in her life.
Kimble is also very impatient. One wonders if this was a characteristic of the child she used to be or if this is because, when in ghostly form, everything happens instantly, i.e., you want to be in the kitchen, boom, you’re in the kitchen. It’s not a question that can be easily answered and one that Katie will just let lie as she accepts Kimble the way she is. Kimble also likes to use this instantaneous aspect to tease Katie, challenging her to races which Katie can never win but which Katie’s competitive spirit won’t allow her to ignore.
As Kimble insinuates herself into the Russell family, the Russells decide that she’s not just a ghost who happens to be in the house; rather, she is a child in ghostly form who eventually, by the third book, Katie & Kimble: The Golden Door (to be published in 2009), is living with the Russells as an active part of the family. The Russells then start to see her as a child with special needs, although one who doesn’t have a body.. Throughout the first three Katie & Kimble books, Kimble’s personal needs emerge, whether they be emotional, spiritual or physical, and the Russells use their understanding of Kimble and of children in general to make her feel like an important part of the family.
The Katie & Kimble series takes the solid family structure and builds the relationships between characters in that context. Kimble wants to fit in, wants to be loved, and wants to be accepted for who she is. And the Russells apply themselves to figuring out how best to meet the needs of their newest daughter.
Linda Thieman is the author of the Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story series, a chapter book series for ages 7-10. http://www.katieandkimbleblog.com
Here is Linda at almost the same age as Katie.
What a cutie.