Sorta Scary, Sorta Funny: Shorter Ghost Stories

“Where are your really SCARY books?”  We get that question a lot in the library — and sometimes from kids who may not be ready for the REALLY scary stuff, either in terms of book length or creepiness.  For those who want their ghost stories lighter, shorter and fun, here are couple of series I like.

Dying to Meet You (43 Old Cemetery Road series, #1), by Kate Klise, illustrated by M. Sarah Klise (lexile: 730; AR book level: 4.9; 160 pp)

Ignatius B. Grumply is a famous children’s author of ghost stories with some big problems.  First, he has writer’s block, and his publisher is breathing down his neck to get something written.   So for inspiration in working on his next book, he moves into a creepy old mansion in the town of Ghastly, Illinois.  And then he discovers the house is already occupied — by an 11-year-old boy named Seymour Hope (Grumply hates children) and a ghost named Olive C. Spence (Grumply doesn’t believe in ghosts).  Olive and Seymour conspire to convince Grumply otherwise.  And in the process, they may just team up to help him write his best story ever.

The story is fun and fast-moving, cleverly told via the Klise sisters’ unique format of letters, newspaper clippings, drawings, and even a tombstone engraving.  Those who like word play will enjoy the names of the characters, including I. B. Grumply himself, Paige Turner (the publisher), and Anita Sale (the realtor).  And check here for a video of Kate & Sarah Klise talking about the book and the old house that inspired the story.

Other titles so far in the series:

Ghosthunters and the Incredibly Revolting Ghost! (Ghosthunters #1), by Cornelia Funke (lexile:  760; AR book level: 4.4; 144 pp)

Poor nine-year-old Tom: he’s a klutz, his big sister Lola is always picking on him, and he’s scared to death to go down into his apartment’s creepy cellar.    It only gets worse when he discovers an actual ghost haunting the cellar!  No one in the family believes him — except his wise grandmother, who connects him with her best friend Hetty Hyssop, who happens to be a world famous ghosthunter.

It turns out Hugo (the basement ghost) is actually just a timid ASG (Averagely Spooky Ghost), who has been ousted from his usual haunts by a nastier IRG (Incredibly Revolting Ghost).  So Tom, Hetty and Hugo join forces to tackle the IRG, and Tom begins his training as a certified Ghosthunter.

The ghosts are not so so much scary as they are yucky and campy (think of those in the movie Ghostbusters).  The fast-paced plot and accompanying illustrations make this an inviting chapter book for boys who want a ghost story that’s not too long and not too scary.

Tom continues his training in the other titles in the series:

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