The Girl Who Wasn't There by Karen McCombie

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The Girl Who Wasn't There by Karen McCombie

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Anne Thompson
Reviewed by Anne Thompson
Summary: An engaging combination of ghostly mystery and school story should ensure that this is popular with readers of about 9+. It has a plot that draws the reader in and a positive feel that adds to the enjoyment.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: August 2014
Publisher: Scholastic
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781407138909

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Maisie doesn’t believe in ghosts. At least she didn’t until she started at her new school. Her dad has a new job working as the school caretaker and as Maisie stands at her new bedroom window one night she thinks she sees something or someone at one of the windows of the closed and empty school. On her first day the other girls tell her of rumours of a ghost of a long-gone girl who wanders the school corridors. Could this be the answer to the mysterious shape at the window? With the help of her new friend Kat, Maisie decides to find out more about the school ghost and solve the mystery. However her investigations unearth surprises that she could never have expected.

This is the first of Karen McCombie's books that I have read and I was prompted to read this one as I know from experience as a school librarian that they are popular with young readers. Having read this I can now understand why. The combination of engaging lead character, family life, mystery, school and a ghost in a well told story make this a winning combination that ticks all the boxes when I am looking for a book to recommend to readers of about 9 plus. Although I’m reluctant to perpetuate the books for boys v books for girls argument I have to confess that this would probably appeal particularly to girls.

The story is told by Maisie and she is a likeable girl who I imagine readers will readily identify with. The relationships between Maisie, her sister Clem and their Dad are believable and I liked the way that underneath the sibling bickering and family banter you knew that they all loved each other really. The plot holds the reader’s attention involving both the ghostly mystery and the problems Maisie deals with as tries to settle at her new school. This is something that girls of this age will understand and for Maisie this change is particularly difficult. Karen McCombie deals with the sadder aspects of this story in a sympathetic and yet positive manner so that as you turn the final page you feel glad that you have read this story. I’m now wishing that I had listened to my pupils a bit sooner!

Life According to...Alice B. Lovely is another of Karen McCombie’s books that is popular in the school library and Bookbag rated it very highly too. Kate Maryon is another author who writes sympathetically for girls in this age group so you may like to try one of her titles.

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Buy The Girl Who Wasn't There by Karen McCombie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Girl Who Wasn't There by Karen McCombie at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Girl Who Wasn't There by Karen McCombie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Girl Who Wasn't There by Karen McCombie at


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