cover image Martin and the Pumpkin Ghost

Martin and the Pumpkin Ghost

Ingrid Ostheeren, I. Ostheeren. NorthSouth, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-1-55858-267-5

Exquisite watercolor illustrations can't quite salvage the uninspired and didactic little story in this Swiss import. Martin is ``scared of everything'': spiders, dogs, monsters in the dark, bullies--even his sister Clara. But one night Martin has a dream in which a good witch enjoins him to ``Listen to the pumpkin gho-o-ost'' who will help him to be ``bra-a-ave.'' As Martin goes through his day, he continually encounters the huge, ghostly pumpkin, which takes on the facial features of those whom Martin must confront. Martin is surprised to find himself tackling and conquering his anxieties--admitting that he forgot his homework, walking past a snarling dog and, in the end, sharing his plans for building a tree house with Peter, ``the biggest bully in his class.'' Sophisticated watercolors with delicate pen-and-ink definition are full of charming detail and lend Martin's world a chimerical touch. Gesture drawings incorporated in the illustrations provide a visual treat, extending the ghostly presence and infusing the book with an energy and spontaneity lacking in the text. Ages 5-8. (June)