cover image My Haunted House

My Haunted House

Angie Sage, , illus. by Jimmy Pickering. . HarperCollins/Tegen, $8.99 (132pp) ISBN 978-0-06-077481-3

In this humorous, fast-paced paper-over-board caper, Sage (the Septimus Heap series) introduces narrator Araminta Spookie (who also gives the series its name), a spirited gal who lives in a large Victorian house. Her crabby Aunt Tabby is constantly doing battle with a malfunctioning boiler, and Uncle Drac slumbers in a sleeping bag hanging from the joists of a bat-filled turret. When her aunt announces that she wants to sell the house and move to someplace modern, Araminta muses, "We couldn't possibly move, not before I'd found at least one ghost." The heroine, determined to sabotage the sale of her beloved home, scares off several real estate agents. Her big break comes, however, when she finds an old key in the foot of Sir Horace, an ancient suit of armor (who turns out to be a ghost), along with a note saying it's the key to the balcony over the entryway to the house (a perfect spot to launch an "Awful Ambush" on potential buyers). Her quest to reach the balcony leads to an exciting series of adventures, involving a secret passageway and a ride on a dumbwaiter. Araminta indeed pulls off an elaborate ambush, creating comical mayhem with unexpected, satisfying results. Pickering's quirky art adds to the kooky—and in spots somewhat spooky—fun (especially his clever renderings of the ghosts). Araminta returns in The Sword in the Grotto (ISBN 0-06-077484-3), due the same month. Ages 7-10. (Aug.)