cover image Jade Green: A Ghost Story

Jade Green: A Ghost Story

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Atheneum Books, $17.99 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82005-2

Although this period ghost story does not measure up to the originality and complexity of Naylor's bewitchingly eerie Sang Spell, it will engage readers (girls especially) looking for pleasantly shivery entertainment. The narrator conforms to the conventions of the genre: pretty, young and newly orphaned, Judith Sparrow has traveled from a distant home (in this case, Ohio) to the refuge offered by her only relatives, a widower uncle and his adult son, in Whispers, S.C. Judith aims to assist the housekeeper; in fact, Uncle Geoffrey places no such demands on her time, asking only that she not bring anything green into the house. But Judith has been unable to part with her only token from her mother, a green picture frame, which she stashes in her trunk. Before long Judith is hearing odd noises and catching sight of mysterious scurrying objects that elude all mousetraps. Could they be connected to the silence surrounding another orphan girl previously taken in by Uncle Geoffrey, Jade Green, who died by her own hand? With an indeterminate 19th-century setting, and with the entrance of a handsome, industrious local fellow to supply a bit of romance, Naylor's latest has all the ingredients of classic supernatural suspense. While she combines these elements in familiar ways, her execution is assured. A satisfying spine-tingler. Ages 10-14. (Feb.)