A BIG, SPOOKY HOUSE by Donna Washington


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 7
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This ghost story has more than a touch of the shaggy dog about it and would certainly be more successful as a performance piece than as a storybook. In Washington's version of the traditional scary tale, the fall guy is “a big man, a strong man” who not only has never backed away from a fight, he spoils for them (The Story of Kwanzaa, 1997, etc.). When he is challenged by one of the ladies in town to join the volunteer army, he accepts and sets off to join up. He turns down any assistance on the way—he wants no help—but when rain starts falling in the middle of the night, he takes cover in a spooky house on a hill. Although no one is in evidence, the door creaks open for him, a fire is blazing in the hearth, and a sumptuous meal is set out. Lesser mortals would flee, but not our big, strong man. A cat appears, leaps in the fire, licks upon a hot coal, and asks, “Are you going to be here when John gets here?” “And past that,” says the man. A bigger cat appears, leaps in the fire, chews on a burning log, asks the same question, gets the same answer. When yet a third cat, big as a pony, arrives, eats the other two cats, licks the fireplace clean, and pops the question, our big man, our strong man, takes a powder. Why did he flee? Who is John? Who’s that even bigger cat reflected in the mirror? Dunno. Even as material for a storyteller, it is hard to see how this ending works, though, thankfully, the same can’t be said for Rogers’s watercolors, which are terrific scene-setters, if abandoned at the climax. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-7868-0349-5
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Disney-Jump at the Sun
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2000


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