Mortimer Keene: Ghosts on the Loose by Tim Healey and Chris Mould

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Mortimer Keene: Ghosts on the Loose by Tim Healey and Chris Mould

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Buy Mortimer Keene: Ghosts on the Loose by Tim Healey and Chris Mould at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Children's Rhymes and Verse
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A fun snappy tale of classroom phantoms, vividly illustrated yet ruined by a bad production format that makes it much less easy to enjoy and engage with.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 96 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 9780340997741

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You know what it's like to feel you've been in school too long. You start to look haggard, have a loping shuffle, and probably a bad smell. But many of the characters in this book take all that to an extreme, as they're ghosts long since thought vanished – plague victims, Victorian hangmen, and much, much worse. They're all there because of Mortimer Keene – the only primary school pupil smart enough to make them visible – and the only one smart enough to get rid of them too. Or is he?

This snappy verse story is great fun for the target audience. The rhymes are punchy and very easy on the ear, and for the adult reading to the child there must be some relief in the fact that most of the voices she'll have to put on are adult ones, and not a host of child characters. There are several characters, however – this is a busy little plot for very few pages, and is over very quickly in a bright, amenable fashion.

What that does mean, to some extent, is that Mortimer is really on the back seat – he isn't met until a long way through this, and for a title character he's not around much, even with a prior books for him to become familiar. The book resorts instead to seeing the mayhem he creates, and that's done as expertly as one would expect from the pen of Chris Mould, one of the more consistently great illustrators for the young.

But all that effort is really, seriously kiboshed by the book's format and design. Full page spreads are swallowed up in the centre fold, the layout of most of the pages is hampered by losing detail, and I didn't find the black-and-white-and-blue format to the colouring very appealing. The book remains readable – and re-readable, given the quality of the writing. But our artist has been done a great disservice with this production, and by the time the spine has been broken copious times for us to see the complete vision of the artworks, this won't be lasting nearly as long as it should.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

The same audience will enjoy Squishy McFluff: the Invisible Cat! by Pip Jones, while for the slightly older there is Agatha Parrot and the Odd Street Ghost by Kjartan Poskitt along a similar plot.

Buy Mortimer Keene: Ghosts on the Loose by Tim Healey and Chris Mould at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mortimer Keene: Ghosts on the Loose by Tim Healey and Chris Mould at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Mortimer Keene: Ghosts on the Loose by Tim Healey and Chris Mould at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mortimer Keene: Ghosts on the Loose by Tim Healey and Chris Mould at Amazon.com.

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