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Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite
Scary Ghosts and Playful Ghosts: Children's Tales of Fright and Delight by Melissa Harker Ridenour consists of six fun and scary ghost tales for children. In The Haunted Toy Chest, Ethan and his Gramp uncover more than they bargained for when they decide to clear out the attic and move some old toys from a trunk into the garage. Running footsteps, eerie wailing sounds and toys that get mysteriously moved. Who is “Rosie” (spelled out in alphabet brick letters)? Bloody Mary Worth is a scary story about the imaginative stories four girls tell each other at their slumber party. Could the spooky predictions of one story actually come true? They soon find out. The Old Lady and The Big Hairy Toe tells of the fate of old Gertrude when she comes across a large toe and decides it would go well in her stew pot. In Isabella’s Imaginary Friend and West Virginia Tommy Knockers, the ghosts of those who lived in the past make themselves known. The final story is the hilarious A Ghostly Car Ride, where Bobby discovers that, in some cases at least, ghostly happenings can have a more logical explanation after all.
Melissa Harker Ridenour has written an enjoyable mixture of tales – some stemming from her own imagination while others are her own unique versions of urban legends or anecdotes. All are mysterious and strange enough to delight and intrigue young lovers of ghostly tales without being too frightening or unpleasant. The characters in each story are likable and believable; their concerns and predicaments are understandable. While entertaining with some funny as well as more serious moments, the stories also convey some insights into people and human character – our curiosity, our often disbelieving natures, the way the consequences of our actions will always catch up with us, as well as desires to make peace or amends. At the end of the book there is some interesting information about the theories of how and why there might or might not really be any such thing as ghosts and the reader is left to decide for him or herself. An enjoyable read.