Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ghost Fever/Mal de Fantasma

Ghost Fever/Mal de Fantasma
by Joe Hayes, 2004

Ghost Fever won the Texas Bluebonnet Award for 2007, joining previous Bluebonnet ghost stories winners. including The Ghost of Fossil Glen in 2000, Time For Andrew: A Ghost Story in 1996, Wait 'Til Helen Comes in 1989 and Christina's Ghost in 1988.

Joe Hayes is a professional storyteller known for his Southwestern stories. This 87 page book is the kind of chapter book I love because young readers, still gaining fluency, can move through the story quickly and feel successful that they have mastered "a chapter book." It certainly qualifies as the kind of "scary" book young readers seek.

Cole Cash rents houses in Duston, Arizona on the wrong side of the tracks. No matter what he does though, he cannot rent one abandoned house to anyone. In desperation he offers 6 months free rent to whoever will sign a one year lease. Rumors of ghosts keep the house empty until Elena’s father hears about it. Newly unemployed with two young daughters, Frank Padilla decides to move his family in despite warnings and advice from family and friends. Luckily, Abuelita knows a thing or two about the spirit world so she takes fourteen year old Elena aside to warn her about ghosts.

She instructs Elena on how to talk to a spirit and warns her that she may be the only one who can hear or see it. Mona Pennypacker did the soft pencil illustrations which nicely evoke the apparition on pages 43 and the very creepy on page 63. I know these 2 pictures elicited the “oooooohs” when I introduced the Bluebonnet list last fall.

I look forward to hearing Hayes speak at the TLA Convention in April.

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