Saturday 12 March 2022


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There's a Ghost in this House by Oliver Jeffers    {Reviewed by STELLA}
From the wrap-around translucent tracing paper dust-jacket to the hand-lettered font, to the wonderfully apt dimensions and quality of the paper, There’s a Ghost in this House will immediately draw you in. And this is even before you get to the best bits. This delightful ghostly tale of a girl determined to discover the ghost in her house is another standout from illustrator and author Oliver Jeffers. I loved the muted tones in this picture book, and how Jeffers has integrated his drawings and characters in a collage style with black-and-white images of furniture and interiors gleaned from old books and catalogues — predominately photographic. Add to this the clever use of tracing paper to expose the ghosts who are hiding in plain sight, small detail drawings, and the simple evocative text, and the appeal of this picture book is complete. The young girl who lives in the supposedly haunted house spends her days wandering the large old house looking in all the usual places where ghosts might be: in the attic, in the cupboard under the stairs, in the hall — where she may have heard them rattling their chains, under the bed, and up the chimney, and of course, in the rooms where the lights are off. Alas, to no avail. She wonders what they look like. She’s heard “some say they are white with holes for eyes”. The joy of this picture book lies in the ‘appearance’ of the ghosts as you turn the tracing paper pages. At first, they are quiet and hardly noticeable, but after a while, they become bolder and the relationship between the reader and ghosts, who are still invisible to the young girl, becomes a shared secret. There's plenty of quirky fun here, and Jeffers’s humour comes to the fore: the baby ghost, complete with a dummy, peeping over the edge of the cot. The ghosts under the table — one looking directly out of the page to the reader with a 'shh' finger raised to its lips. Ghosts that swing from chandeliers, ghosts that stop for a cup of tea and a chat, ghosts reading in the library and jumping on the bed. The ghosts are watching our brightly coloured girl and following her every move as she tours the house in her never-ending search, sure that someone is watching her. But where is the ghost?  And the more you look, the more you see! Irresistible.

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