THE BIRD SHADOW: An Ike and Mem Story

Patrick Jennings, Author, Anna Alter, Illustrator , illus. by Anna Alter. Holiday $15.95 (64p) ISBN 978-0-8234-1670-7

Jennings (The Beastly Arms) launches a series of early chapter books starring siblings Ike and Mem, with this tale of a universal childhood fascination: a haunted house. "No one had ever seen a person go into the house. No one had ever seen one come out. Some of Ike's friends said the place had ghosts." The author builds tension by introducing neighbors who bully the siblings into accompanying them to the house, and the volume quietly creates suspense with other clues. Rather than a number at the start of the chapters, each begins with an illustration that hints at what will follow. For instance, a farmer's hat suggests that readers will encounter its wearer, who also happens to be the owner of the house in question. Ike and Mem do the right thing when their trespassing goes awry, and readers will likely want to follow their adventures in subsequent installments. With a simple sentence structure and gentle repetition, the author instills a sense of confidence in readers just starting to tackle longer stories. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 6-9. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 12/10/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
Genre: Children's
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