There's a Ghost In This House

Image of There's a Ghost In This House
Release Date: 
October 5, 2021
Philomel Books
Reviewed by: 

There’s a Ghost in this House is a picture book of a different color. The dust jacket is gray and white with two cut-out ovals revealing a traditional sheet-with-eye-holes ghost in one and a colorful green and blue creature in the other. Take off the dust jacket and you find a spooky mansion against a dark night sky.  The end papers are gray with gray sheet ghosts outlined in white.

The title page comes with a pun—a Fraid of ghosts is the collective noun for a group of ghosts.  After the title page comes a page with the mansion and another page with the door to the mansion. The suspense is building. Turn the page and the blue-green creature is peeking out of the front door saying, “Hello, come in.”

This will be fascinating for some children ages four to eight and too scary for others. The green and blue creature turns out to be a girl with pig tails. She stands in front of a sepia-toned photograph of an old staircase. The bottom of the page describes the photo, stating that the house was built in 1760 (for the adults). Then there’s a translucent white page to turn, and voilà! The old photo now shows a ghost hiding behind the bannister at the top of the staircase.

“And welcome! I haven’t had visitors for quite a while,” the blue girl says.  The reader gets the sense that this book will continue to be full of surprises. The next sepia photo of the parlor shows the green girl resting her head in her hand. She is asking the reader for some help.

Another translucent page-turn reveals a ghost hiding behind the sofa. The center double spread in gray and black shows the girl walking into a new room. Then a page-turn and she’s in the dining room. The translucent overlay shows two ghosts: one on the chandelier and the other one hiding behind the table.

The blue-green girl is stumped. She never sees the ghosts, although the readers do, and that is the joke of the book. She looks up to the chandelier, but now the ghosts have moved to under the table. She looks in the closet under the stairs. Turn the translucent page and there are three ghosts. She wanders down the hall, wondering if the ghosts have chains. The translucent page reveals that at least one does.

The girl wonders while the chained ghost hides. The joke continues as the girl looks in the bathroom mirror but can’t see what the reader sees with a translucent page-turn: the ghost is looking in the mirror. Three ghosts haunt the library. Five ghosts are near the fireplace. The sepia-toned photographs alternate with white translucent overlays and solid gray pages. The girl never sees any of the ghosts, and says at the end, “Perhaps I never will.”