cover image The Random House Book of Ghost Stories

The Random House Book of Ghost Stories

. Random House Books for Young Readers, $21.95 (223pp) ISBN 978-0-679-81234-0

Originally published in England, this robust collection of 17 tales featuring ghosts is more noteworthy for the high quality of the writing than for its potential to shock. Sprinkled with British idioms and spellings, the stories introduce as many benevolent as ominous ghosts, and are not likely to frighten even the most timid readers. Most of the entries, including absorbing pieces by Eleanor Farjeon, Penelope Lively, George Mackay Brown and Philippa Pearce, have appeared in print previously. Among the collection's four original tales, two are standouts: the reflective ``A Friend Forever'' by the book's editor Hill ( Can It Be True? ; Go Away, Bad Dreams ) and John Gordon's ``Grandmother's Footsteps.'' Gifted artist Barrett ( The Snow Queen ; Proud Knight, Fair Lady ) contributes shadowy illustrations that are occasionally Gorey-esque and always fittingly portentous. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)