Rumors abound that the Blatchford Arms is haunted—just the kind of place where a quirky babysitter like Carolina Giddle can brew her ghost tales for a cauldron of young apartment dwellers.
This middle-grade spookfest from Governor General Award winner Huser (Stitches, 2003) promises goose bumps and chills but comes up a bit unseasoned. Carolina Giddle arrives at the Blatchford Arms with a bang. She drives a knickknack-laden VW Bug (aptly named Trinket), carries around her companion tarantula, Chiquita, in his cage, and holds heartwarming conversations with her beloved aunt Beulah and her friend Grace, who both happen to be ghosts. The apartment building overflows with young trick-or-treaters in need of attention and supervision. With her gift for storytelling and setting the right mood, Carolina Giddle enchants them with eerie stories they can’t resist. Each tale mirrors the children’s woes or flaws, such as Hubert’s fear of the dark or Galina’s habit of ruining her artist father’s canvasses. Although the tales are well-told, entertaining stand-alone stories, they offer predictability (the children become more well-behaved after listening) instead of a sense of memorable wit and enlightenment. The ending may leave readers wondering if they’ve missed something.
This creepy gathering of stories creates buzz and possibility but in the end falls short. (Fiction. 8-12)