cover image The Ghost in Room 11

The Ghost in Room 11

Betty Ren Wright. Holiday House, $16.95 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1318-8

Wright's (Haunted Summer) lackluster ghost story about a haunted school comes off as more silly than eerie. New student Matt Barber quickly loses credibility with his peers when he tries to impress them with tall tales about his mother, who ""does stunts"" in the movies, and his ""treasure hunter"" father. Tagged as a liar, the fourth-grader has trouble convincing anyone he has seen a phantom teacher roaming the halls outside classroom 11. But the ghost--schoolmarm Whipple who ""died at her desk, correcting papers""--is real, and she vows to haunt Matt until he improves his spelling. As unconvincing as the novel's strained plot is its cast of two-dimensional characters: a principal who shares Matt's spelling problem; a teacher who calls the Barber home regularly to report Matt's shortcomings; and an irritating apparition, who badgers students with the motto: ""Try Hard. Then Try Harder."" Fans of spooky school stories will find few thrills here. Ages 7-9. (Dec.)