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Book Reviews

The Elevator Ghost

by Glen Huser; Stacy Innerst (illus.)

Carolina Giddle, an unusual woman with a pet tarantula named Chiquita and a penchant for spooky storytelling, moves into the supposedly haunted Blatchford Arms apartments in the latest middle-grade book from Governor General’s Literary Award winner Glen Huser. Carolina has been invited to stay at the building by her beloved great-aunt Beulah, whom Carolina converses with despite the fact that Beulah has recently passed away.

Before long, Carolina starts babysitting the children who live in the building. She always brings along special treats – bone rattlers (bone-shaped peppermints) or granghoula bars – and tells the kids ghost stories tailored to their individual fears or acts of mischief. Tantrum-prone Angelo and pranksters Dwight and Dwayne all hear stories about the potential paranormal consequences of their behaviour. (For young Hubert and Hetty, who are afraid of their own shadows, Carolina offers up a story that helps them overcome their fear.)

Each chapter features a new babysitting venture and related spooky story. Though Carolina’s tales are told in a charming, colloquial way, the format becomes repetitive, with most chapters following the same pattern: a child misbehaves, Carolina arrives to babysit, and her story teaches the child the error of his or her ways.

There isn’t much by way of plot other than in the stories Carolina tells, but the final chapter, during which Carolina throws a Halloween party for residents of the Blatchford Arms, nicely resolves some unanswered questions about the building’s resident ghost. For younger readers who are interested in things supernatural or spooky – from skeletons to bat-monsters to extraterrestrials – The Elevator Ghost offers a quirky approach to ghost stories without being overly frightening.