Childish Spirits by Rob Keeley

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Childish Spirits by Rob Keeley

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Ghost story from Bookbag favourite Rob Keeley. First in a series and a departure from his usual short story format, this is an enjoyable new direction from Rob.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: April 2014
Publisher: Matador
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1783064617

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Ellie and her mum and brother Charlie have moved into Inchwood Manor. Ellie's mum is going to transform the old house into a heritage visitor attraction. Ellie doesn't mind this but she does wish her dad had come too. But for some reason, he hasn't. And if Ellie wasn't texting him, he wouldn't even know how they were getting on. There's a great deal of work to be done to get Inchwood Manor ready and mum is busy with manager Marcus. Charlie is busy being fed up at being stuck in the back end of beyond. And so neither of them notice the strange things that Ellie does...

... there's a mysterious boy at one of the upstairs windows. Objects move themselves in the abandoned nursery. A strange woman appears in Ellie's dreams. It's soon quite clear to Ellie that Inchwood Manor is haunted. And she finds herself caught in the middle of a Victorian mystery and a supernatural battle. Can she help Edward, the Inchwood Manor ghost, before Mum and Charlie write her off as a total lunatic?

Bookbag favourite Rob Keeley usually writes short stories so this full-length novel brings something new for his fans. And it's great. There are some pretty scary moments but I don't think anything that will cause nightmares, thanks to an added dollop of comedy. Ellie is a great heroine. She's thoughtful and arty but not priggish. And she's very brave. The ghostly Edward throws his best spectral tricks her way but she is never daunted. And, as their friendship grows, she risks quite a lot to help him.

Childish Spirits has all the elements of a classic ghost story - a crumbling manor house, an evil governess, Victorian spiritualism - but it also has a very modern setting that readers will feel at home with. In particular, the stresses and strains within Ellie's family are all too recognisable to a modern child. The teasing and bickering that goes on between Ellie and Charlie is exactly the same as the teasing and bickering between siblings that goes on at my house. And, though I cringe to say it, so is Mum's busy distraction. Mum doesn't always notice everything that's going on because she is so busy with work and a failing marriage.

It's a breeze to read, too. Simply written with an accessible vocabulary but never simplistic, and there are plenty of jokes to balance out the scary parts. Childish Spirits is the first in a planned series and I'm already looking forward to book two.

Childish Spirits is available in paperback format, as an ebook and also as an audiobook. There's also a 10th anniversary special edition.

Recommended. School librarians: this good-hearted novel would make a great addition to your shelves.

Slightly more scary, but fabulously Gothic, is Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley. For more bickering (and we mean a lot more bickering) try The Catchers in Pirates, Thieves, Zombies and Magic by Stuart J Kent. You might appreciate Spirit by Sally Christie but we think Childish Spirits is the better book.

Rob Keeley's ''Spirits'' series in Chronological Order

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