cover image THE GHOST OF P.S. 42


Frank Asch, , illus. by John Kanzler. . S&S, $14.95 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84653-3

In a promising start to the Class Pets chapter book series, Asch (the Moonbear series) delivers an agreeable romp of a tale about brother and sister mice in search of a new home. Molly and Jake have come of age, and with Deli Dan's crowded with relatives, it's time for them to leave the nest. They consider living in a church ("What would we eat? Bibles?") and a funeral parlor, before finally settling into an elementary school. The action splits at this point, and the chapters alternate between the two siblings, as Molly slips inside through a crack to explore while chubby Jake has to find an alternate route. In Miss Clark's third grade classroom, Molly meets Gino, a hamster ghost, a white rabbit named Peaches and two lovebirds (Prince and Princess). Meanwhile, outside, Jake is busy avoiding the clutches of a hungry cat and a predatory owl. Eventually the two plotlines come together in a most satisfactory cat-and-mouse chase—with an ending that ensures Molly and Jake will be back for a second installment. Frequently fired wisecracks ("Look what the cat dragged in—himself!" quips Peaches) balance quieter descriptive passages ("When you're young, life stretches out like an endless ball of yarn. Then one day you realize it all went by in the blink of an eye!" Gino says). Kanzler's softly shaded drawings play up Gino's ghostliness and add atmospheric details that help cement the book's appeal for the elementary crowd. Ages 7-11. (Sept.)