Skip to main content

Ghosthunters and the Incredibly Revolting Ghost by Cornelia Funke, 120 pp, RL 3


Cornelia Funke is a diverse writer who began her career as a children's book illustrator and went on to write her own picture books, beginning chapter books and the best selling, epic Inkworld Trilogy as well as the very popular Dragon Rider and Thief Lord books for young readers. The Ghosthunters series represents her foray into the world of chapter books, with the specific intention of enticing boys (and girls, she notes on her website) who are reluctant readers. While RL Stine and his long running Goosebumps Series probably have the market cornered on spooky, spine tingling, suspenseful (and gross) books that might get boys to read, there is always room for more.

Approximately the same length and reading level as the Goosebumps books, the Ghosthunters series is different in tone. Whereas Goosebumps are written and marketed to come off like watered-down versions of horror movies, Ghosthunters is more along the lines of the movie Ghostbusters. Funke is intent on creating a realistic, likable character in Tom, who is not yet ten and the kind of kid who often has "stumbly, bumbly everything-goes-wrong-days." Tom also has a big sister who is six years older than he is and only happy when she is tormenting him and making his life miserable. In the first book in the series we learn that Tom is deathly afraid of ghosts and unable to convince his family he has seen one in the basement of the apartment building they live in. The only person who will listen to him is his grandmother. Not only does she believe Tom's story, she sends him to talk to her friend and ghost hunter, Hetty Hyssop. Hetty seems like an oddball at first, but we soon learn that her strange ways, like wearing and decorating only in the color red, are really strategies to keep ghosts at bay. Hetty tells Tom how to expel the ghost from his cellar, but he only finds himself more deeply involved in Hetty's business when the ghost, Hugo, tells Tom a sad story about being evicted from his previous haunt and desperately wants to go home.

What follows is a amply detailed story with lots of acronyms, ASG - Averagely Spooky Ghost and IRG - Incredibly Revolting Ghost, the two most frequently used, and long lists of abilities and qualities of each of these types of ghosts as well as lists and tips for ghost hunting in the back of the book. This is all very important information that is needed when trying to capture any ghost. While the IRG who has displaced Hugo (an ASG) is very menacing and threatens to scare Tom and Hetty to death, the suspense of the book is never very intense. The revoltingness promised in the title is never too gross, either. Ghosts leave slime on things, trash furniture and sometimes eat everything in site. I couldn't help thinking of the ghost Slimer from the original Ghostbusters. Although Funke began publishing her Ghosthunters series in Germany in 1993, I didn't find this book dated at all. It was entertaining with just enough twists and quirks to keep me interested. I never doubted the happy ending of the book, which includes revenge on Lola, Tom's big sister. Hugo the ghost was especially entertaining and friendly, which added immensely to the appeal and non-threatening nature of the book.

I would definitely recommend this series to a reader who is interested in ghosts. Funke does present ghosts and the many ways to thwart them in a realistic way, which should appeal to reluctant readers as well as kids who like a good story.













Readers who like this book might enjoy:

The Ink Drinker, by Eric Sanvoisin
Scream Street by Tommy Donbavand
Araminta Spookie by Angie Sage
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Olivia Kidney by Ellen Potter. This is a FABULOUS ghost story. A bit like the movie The Sixth Sense - you don't realize everyone is a ghost until the end. The writing is brilliantly creative and the characters are intriguing. Don't give this twist away to your kids if you are trying to interest them in the book, though.

Comments

Louise said…
This sounds like really great fun. I know kids have an incredible ability to remember lists of attributes, acronyms and the like (something I am less able to do as I get older, and older...!), and I'm sure they'll love this!
Tanya said…
Yes! I am sure that had I read these books when I was a kid I would have been following all the instructions for ghost thwarting and begging my mom to get me some graveyard dirt...

Popular posts from this blog

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…