Friday, June 22, 2012
Target Audience: Ages 9-12
Jon Whitcroft is an eleven year old with a big hairy problem - his mom's new boyfriend, dubbed The Beard due to his overabundance of facial hair. Jon tries everything he can think of to scare him off, but The Beard shows no signs of leaving. In fact Jon's exploits earn him banishment to a boarding school. He is certain that his time at this new school will be a fate worse than death. However the appearance of a posse of three ghostly riders drained of color and full of bloodlust jolts him out of his doldrums. Why are they after him and why can no one else see them? Jon joins forces with Ella, a plucky schoolmate to solve the mystery behind these deadly pursuers. Ella lives with her grandmother, Zelda, who just so happens to give ghost tours for a living. Together the children summon the ghost of the late knight, Longspee, for help and protection. The plot clips along at a nice pace. Readers will enjoy the ghostly adventure and mystery. The illustrations, often paired with text to enhance the story, are lovely. It is easy to relate to Jon's character as he slowly grows to appreciate all the people in his life and that what looks most dire can often turn out to be pretty awesome indeed. Funke produces yet another winner, a book chock full of delightful characters and her trademark charm and wit.