By GLENN TOLLE
I’ve always loved ghosts. Even though I no longer believe in them, I still jump at the chance to see a ghostly horror film or read a spooky book. Ghosts are a universal fear and while their popularity (like all supernatural creatures) ebbs and wanes, they remain a central part of the horror genre (see the most recent issue of RUE MORGUE, for example).
Growing up, I devoured any book I could find on the topic. One of those books was a tiny little tome simply titled: I CAN READ ABOUT GHOSTS written by Erica Frost, illustrated by Frank Brugos, and published by Troll Associates in 1975. Much like the book I recommended in the last installment of FRIGHTS FOR TYKES, this one is not so much scary as it is spooky and not so much creepy, as it is cute. It’s simply written and, as the title suggests, is aimed at kids just learning to read.
I read this book when I was first learning to read and loved it. The story was simple, I could relate to the ghost and the cover just looked cool! Going back and re-reading it for this article brought back many memories of those early days when I was just beginning to sound out words and discover the weird and wild world of the supernatural.
In, I CAN READ ABOUT GHOSTS, a little ghost named Andrew gets tasked by the “ghost council” with haunting the large “old castle on Whispering Hill”. This is quite a daunting task for Andrew who is not only afraid of the dark, but is also much too small to haunt the entire castle by himself. Still, this is what he has to do he expects the ghosts at the “Ghost Council” to stop calling him a “ghostling”. Andrew, like many kids, wants to prove that he’s capable of doing things on his own; he wants to show that he’s not a “baby” and that he’s “brave”, but given his size and age, it’s not that easy.
As the story progresses we see Andrew fall down again and again, only to continue haunting and eventually scaring away a would-be burglar mid break-in. The common, but important message, in I CAN READ ABOUT GHOSTS is clear: never give up, especially if you have trouble reading; if you keep trying, you will eventually succeed.
I highly recommend that you pick this book up for your library of children’s fright fiction. The cover may be the only shiver-worthy part of this slim release, but it serves as a sweet introduction to the immortal concept of the ghost, which will no doubt continue to haunt the pages of children’s books (and adult books) for ages to come.