cover image Ghosts


Sonia Goldie, trans. from the French by Claudia Z. Bedrick, illus. by Marc Boutavant. Enchanted Lion (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-59270-142-1

Ghosts do not wear sheets, rattle chains, or say “boo”—not according to this idiosyncratic compendium of the specters that haunt a house. The ghost of the attic “likes to dress up—as a marquis, a pirate, even an Arabian prince,” while the ghost of the garage feasts on “toast with dirty lubricating oil” and “gasoline tea with rubber cake.” Others display rich inner lives, like the ghost of the library, who “would rather live in his daydreams.” Originally published in France in 2001, Goldie’s tale is verbose for a picture book, and although witty turns of phrase punctuate the text blocks (the hydrophobic bathroom ghost “takes comfort in his own salty smell”), this catalogue-like story is, like its subjects, insubstantial. Boutavant’s witty details enrich each spread: a black cat steals two newspaper-wrapped fish from the ghost of the kitchen’s domain; the vacant-eyed apparitions peering over the television ghost’s shoulder resemble Laurel and Hardy. The phantoms’ transparency—some are mere outlines—contrasts neatly with the saturated, textured colors deployed elsewhere, lending credence to the assertion that these ghosts, not the Casper wannabes, are authentic. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)