JESSE'S GHOST and Other Stories by Barbara Ann Porte
Kirkus Star

JESSE'S GHOST and Other Stories

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Ten or so fine-tuned tales, based on or inspired by traditional tales or motifs, told in a deliberately traditional manner, and attributed to ""the storyteller"": ""The storyteller sits where three world meet, before and now and after, sits and tells her stories. She is like the spider woman, plucking bits and pieces from here and there and everywhere, weaving them together, seeing how they fit."" In the old woman's tales, potatoes are turned to rocks and back again, fairies turn up to demand a pestle of a pharmacist's son, a little girl understands the talk of animals but can't prevent the fatal school bus accident they've warned her of, a baby falls into a well and her sitter pulls up a toe (""Well, that is that, the woman thought. But it wasn't, not by a long shot""), and a disorganized girl gets organized, working so far ahead of herself that she turns prematurely old. In the strange, insidious ghost story of the title, the boy Jesse tells his twin brother Phillip ghost stories in bed. (""He can't imagine sleeping by himself. . . . Everything he knows is Philip."") Next morning, a gravestone carving reveals that ""Philip died at birth."" ""But the bones beneath the ground, the bones are Jesse's bones."" Porte's conscious, polished, literary surfaces, while far from the spirit of real folk tales, are craftily honed, with lingering suggestions of the elusive, inexplicable forces just a breath away.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 1983
Publisher: Greenwillow