An unusually tender Halloween tale. Maxie, a fourth-grader, and his sister Mercy, four, have been living in the local orphanage for the month since their aunt, who had recently taken them in when their parents were killed in a plane crash, felt she could no longer keep them. Maxie's class visits the orphanage for a Halloween party. When Maxie shows his loving friend Buddington (""forever in trouble and. . .the dumbest fourth, grader, by unanimous agreement"") his room, he sees from his window a woman in black--""a ghost""--hiding behind an oak tree. The ghost seems to be Maxie's beloved grandmother, who has promised to take him and Mercy to live with her as soon as her health improves. Later, Maxie and his friend Judy, who recently lost her own father to cancer, are seriously injured when the oak tree is split by lightning. Maxie, in a coma, talks with his grandmother, who tells him tie can come with her to heaven or stay below with Mercy, who can't go (""She's too young for the trip, Maxie""). Maxie chooses life (with the help of CPR), but not before he has an out-of-body experience. When he wakes, Mercy tells him that their grandmother died on Halloween morning. A wonderful, life-affirming book that gives dignity to a child's grief, with funny non-sitcom fourth graders and adults who manage to say and do the right things. Not all readers, though, will be able to accept the author's version of death and dying.