July 22, 2014

Haunted Canada: Ghost Stories

by Pat Hancock and Allan Gould
Illustrated by Andrej Krystoforski
Scholastic Canada
978-1-4431-2894-0
172 pp.
Ages 8-13
2014

Though most readers would think this a perfect read for Halloween (and I will be sure to add it to an October post on spooky youngCanLit reads), ghost stories are also the perfect choice for an end-of-night campfire, when the darkness has settled in, the quiet is heavy in the warm humid air, and the company is just a little wary of occasional unfamiliar sounds and shadows.  That's the time to bring out one of Scholastic Canada's Haunted Canada series books, like their newest Haunted Canada: Ghost Stories.

While all the stories include supernatural or paranormal elements, the basis for the tales are quite varied.  Some warn, some entertain, some explain, some scare. Many of the stories, like "The Sleeping Boy" and "Golden Eyes", have ghosts that appear for the purpose of keeping others safe, whether from fire, an avalanche or a flash flood.  In "Robber's Reward", a young girl helps to right an injustice.  Several provide cautionary themes against bullying and gossiping, such as in "A Boy's Best Friend" and "Spellbound".  And the final story in the book, "Life Guard", is truly frightening or would be if a boy hadn't been an attentive big brother.

The fifteen stories within are a little scary but not horrific, not the nightmare-inducing tales that teens and adults might enjoy.  These stories read more like retelling of eyewitness accounts, the kind that one person might tell by beginning with, "Did you hear that...?" and you might believe they actually happened.  Mind you, with ghost stories, how do you know they didn't? Something to think about when settling into that warm and cozy bed and you hear something go bump in the night. 

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