cover image The Ghost of Popcorn Hill

The Ghost of Popcorn Hill

Betty Ren Wright. Holiday House, $16.95 (81pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1009-5

When Martin and Peter encounter the lonely ghosts of a farmer and a sheepdog, they try to reunite the pair. At the same time, the boys begin to appreciate the companionship and loving nature of Rosie, their own dog. Wright's eerie, frequently somber details will easily beguile readers: ``Moonlight shone right through the mournful face, the raggedy trousers held up with red suspenders, and the tattered shirt. He looked like a ghostly scarecrow.'' Forthright descriptions of the novel's picturesque setting create a marked contrast to the dim and haunting images. ``From the top of Popcorn Hill you could see for miles. Fruit trees, with blossoms that looked like popcorn, dotted the hillside. Beyond were meadows and a creek, and there were woods everywhere.'' These youngsters are flesh-and-blood creations (unlike some of their encounters); the most reluctant readers will be cheering them on every step of the way. With a skill and style somewhat unusual for this genre, Ritz's handsomely shaded, full-page drawings add considerable atmosphere. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)