cover image Eli's Ghost

Eli's Ghost

Betsy Hearne. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $13.95 (104pp) ISBN 978-0-689-50420-4

Himler's wonder-filled pictures reflect the gentle humor and tenderness in a third appealing fantasy by Hearne, author of Home and South Star. In a small southern town during the early 1900s, Eli Wilson leaves home to seek his mother, Sylvia. He has just learned from his mean father Henry that Sylvia has been living for years as a ""swamp witch.'' Eli pushes deep into the swamp where his mother finds and rescues him as he's drowning. So close is the boy to death that his ghost comes forth to create the mischief that the dutiful Eli never would have. The impish spirit, for instance, delights in playing havoc with heartless Henry's wooing of a ``suitable'' woman to replace Sylvia, whom he has discarded along with her unsatisfactory son. Besides the chief characters, there are othersghostly and solid who add fun to Hearne's believable magic. (8-12)