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A FOOT IN THE GRAVE by Joan Aiken

A FOOT IN THE GRAVE

By Joan Aiken (Author) , Jan Pienkowski (Illustrator)

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0140361111
Publisher: Viking

Eight handsome, ambiguous pictures by one of Britain's most innovative illustrators provide inspiration for the same number of ghost and horror stories by a skilled fantasy writer. A nasty grave-robber is hauled into a grave; a ghost-snatcher gets snatched; a poisonous old aunt, literally scared to death by her callous nephew, returns as a strangling vine; a strong-minded ghost refuses to return to the grave after her dog's bones are composted; and more, lighthearted or disturbing. The pictures are striking: luminous, tantalizing, by turns menacing or mysterious, they speak "story" from every anguished line, collage-like form, or boldly stenciled image. The stories are entertaining, with a strong sense of place, good pacing, and use of language (English, not American, and the better for it). But the two never fully mesh; they remain products of separate imaginations. A powerful visual image implies more than words can say; still, once one of these stories is told, the reader is left wondering what the real story was. (Even the jacket reflects this ambiguity, combining the title of one story with the picture from another). However, a little ambiguity is not a bad thing for imaginative young readers. An intriguing tour de force. (Fiction. 10+)