THERE’S A GHOST IN THIS HOUSE by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins £20, 44 pp)


by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins £20, 44 pp)

Oliver Jeffers is not just a brilliant storyteller and artist, he also plays with the nature of the physical book, and nowhere better than in this imaginative, funny and clever twist on a haunted house.

A little girl invites us into her old mansion and says she thinks it’s haunted — she’s heard chains rattling — but she’s never actually seen anything.

Interspersed between each page is a tracing-paper-thin leaf which, as it’s turned over and overlaid on the previous page, reveals a series of mischievous white ghosts, sliding down banisters, hiding under beds and swinging from chandeliers.

Children will love the concept of being able to spot what the young girl can’t and Jeffers’ dryly funny visual jokes on the elusiveness of spirits finish with a cliffhanger . . . Another absolute winner from this inventive author.


Michelle Robinson Illustrated by Briony May Smith (Walker £12.99, 32 pp)

This riotous Halloween picture book follows little Betty’s first attempt at making a magic potion — which requires almost as many ingredients as Macbeth’s witches’ brew.

‘Raindrops, moonbeams, lightning bolts’ soon progress to ‘troll hair plucked from filthy drains’ and vampire fangs as Betty and her mum whizz through the dark night on their broomsticks.

A crisp, catchy rhyme sequence and wickedly detailed illustrations make this a spellbinding joy.

Also worth a look is Rita Wants A Witch, the latest in the endearing Rita series by Maire Zepf, illustrated in bold colour by Mr Ando (Graffeg £7.99), where Rita’s longing for a pointy-hatted friend to make her life easier and wreak havoc on her enemies slowly diminishes as she realises that there’s a down-side to devilment . . .

THE RED GLOVES AND OTHER STORIES by Catherine Fisher (Firefly £12.99, 192 pp)


by Catherine Fisher (Firefly £12.99, 192 pp)

Catherine Fisher has carved out a special niche with her Welsh magic and folklore novels, but here she takes a darker step into the spiritual world with a collection of short stories to chill the bones of older children.

The title story is genuinely creepy, as a young girl finds a pair of red, silky, long gloves she bought in a junk shop have menacing powers that threaten her family.

In The Hare, young Owen brings home an ancient metal disc from an archaeological dig but when his father rescues an apparently injured white hare, who sits motionless in front of their fireplace, strange, malevolent forces are stirred up.

And the book ends with a neat twist in the tale with Ghost In The Rain, where a child’s tragic, accidental death from drowning haunts the visitors to a country house.

If you haven’t discovered Fisher’s novels yet, this is a great introduction to her vivid imagination. Age 9-12.

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