By Maureen Tai, 22 October 2018
“But the girl wasn’t just a girl. She was a witch!”
‘Tis the witching season and what better than to curl up under a blanket with a flashlight, a pile of spooky storybooks and a plate of chocolate chip cookies (mind the crumbs). For the youngest of little ones with faint hearts and short attention spans, Ghosts in the House! is the perfect Halloween read. Boldly illustrated and sparsely written (155 words in all), it is delightful.
And there are lots and lots of ghosts …
The girl and her cat move into an imposing, somewhat rickety old house on the outskirts of town. She wears a long black coat and heavy black boots, and her feline companion is sinuous and lanky. It’s hard to tell if it’s day or night as the only colours used in the charming linocut print illustrations are a glaring pumpkin-orange, a murky inky-black and a translucent ghostly-white.
The girl opens the front door of her new home and is greeted by … WOOOOOOOOOOOOO! a ghostly apparition that spreads out and flies straight at her! Taken aback – but only for a second – our fearless protagonist rummages in her suitcase and pulls out her secret weapons – a pointy hat, a broomstick and a gigantic urn. Her cat rather ironically kits itself out in a slinky catsuit and together, the girl-witch and her sidekick work together to sort out their seriously spooky predicament.
What I love is that the little girl/witch’s nerves of steel and gumption help her triumph in the most satisfying way possible. Our little heroine turns an overwhelmingly scary situation right around not by simply exorcising the ghostly spectres but by transforming them into her allies and friends. A wonderful little lesson in a wonderful gem of a not-so-scary Halloween picture book.
For ages 2 and up.