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The Old Willis Place Paperback – August 20, 2007

102 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—Diana and her younger brother Georgie know the rules and obey them at all costs. They are not allowed to talk or show themselves to anyone and they can't leave the grounds surrounding the old Willis place. For as long as they can remember these rules have been clear, but when a new caretaker and his daughter, Lissa, move in, Diana challenges the rules so that she can finally have a friend. The siblings have been scared of the Willis place and Ms. Lillian for a long time and for a good reason—"the bad thing" happened there. Mary Downing Hahn's ghost story (Clarion, 2004) is suspenseful and full of plot twists. Narrator Ellen Grafton's cheerful, child-like tone portrays the innocence and playful nature of the main characters. She gives each character a unique voice, and her upbeat tone masks the true horror of the story. Clues will lead listeners to realize that the siblings are ghosts before the fact is actually established, but the sense of foreboding will keep their attention throughout.—Sarah Flood, Breckinridge County Public Library, Hardinsburg, KY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-7. Hahn is a master at stretching the suspense, and that's what she does here. Diana and her little brother, Georgie, watch as the caretaker and his daughter move into a trailer near the decaying Willis mansion. The children have seen caretakers come and go, but Diana, who has no friends, is tempted by the sight of a girl her own age. Hahn unfurls the story slowly, but because of the subtitle, readers will know there's a ghost. They'll assume it's wicked Miss Willis, who died in the house, but soon they'll start wondering about Diana and Georgie, too. Where are their parents? What are these arcane rules they seem to live by? To Hahn's credit, children won't be entirely sure of the answers until the very end. Some of the action is told through Lissa's diary. Most of the time this works, but it's too bad the climax is revealed this way as the device puts a barrier between readers and the action. Kids will love this anyway: it's just the right mix of chilling and thrilling. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (August 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618897410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618897414
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Downing Hahn, a former children's librarian, is the award-winning author of many popular ghost stories, including Deep and Dark and Dangerous and The Old Willis Place. An avid reader, traveler, and all-around arts lover, Ms. Hahn lives in Columbia, Maryland, with her two cats, Oscar and Rufus.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Mary Downing Hahn's book The Old Willis Place, is a ghost story like no other. Hahn perfectly illustrates all mental images. You could picture exactly what Oak Hill Manor looks like, or even the Caretaker's Trailer and the River Hideout. If you are looking for a ghost story with a happy ending, then this is the book for you.

Georgie and Diana live in a tin shed in the woods by The Old Willis Place. Even though they have no parents, they still must obey the rules embedded in their minds long ago. Their favorite thing to do is to scare the Caretakers so much that they leave Oak Hill Manor; usually they are old and grumpy men. But, this time it's a middle-aged man with a daughter named Lissa. Diana does not yet know how much Lissa will change her life. Then one day, the thing that Diana and Georgie most fear is released, the ghost of Miss Lillian. She comes looking for them to punish them for what they did to her long ago.

This book will have you on the edge of your seat from the beginning to the heart-wrenching end that will emotionally slap you in the face. The Old Willis Place is an appropriate book for all ages, though it might be scary for people who thought that some of her other books like Time For Andrew and Wait Till Helen Comes were scary. This book is at the top of my list, and once you read it, it will be at the top of your list too.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By auntnancy on March 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The following review is from my 10 year old nephew:

"This book is an amazing book with lots of scary twists inside of even gave me nightmares. It is the best ghost story I have ever read. The characters were very brave and went to any lengths to sustain a friendship."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The Old Willis Place is an interesting book that you should read. It starts out fun and funny but at the end it gets so misleading, disturbing, frightening, and unexpected. Can you really say why the children died? Or what happened to Mrs. Willis, or even who she really was? It all ties up in the ending and that's what got me hooked to this wonderful book.

This book, The Old Willis Place, is a creepy mysterious book that ties up in the end. This book takes place on Mrs.Willis' farm. Diana and Georgie have many rules they must obey and they try to figure out their own cause of death. During this process they meet a friend, Lissa, and her father Mr. Morrison. This was a problem because in the rules no one was allowed to see them. But Diana and Georgie were so lonely they have been with each other and only each other for such along time. Their friend found Diana and Georgie to be very suspicious but at the same time trustworthy. This was misleading and not understandable but Lissa wanted a friend too so much that she would do anything. Besides she thought that is what made them interesting.

Diana was dying to tell who she really was, where she really lived, and how she got here in the first place to Lissa but she couldn't that was against the rules. The two girls ended up to be close friends and for that matter they called themselves," Friends forever". But Lissa didn't know that soon Diana would be going far away. Since she had no idea of who Diana and Georgie really were, she just concluded whatever she wanted them to be. For example a strange religion because she acted so strange and had so many rules. She also made up that she was a vegetarian since she was never hungry nor thirsty. Diana would just say," Oh yes" or "Sure" to whatever Lissa said.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is the best book ever!

This book is about two kids who live in the woods. When a new caretaker comes to take care of the Old Willis place Diana and Georgie want to make friends with the caretaker's daughter. When Diana takes a risky move to break the rules and shows herself to Lissa, Diana creates a problem. This problem will create many lies and might even ruin their lives!

If I were to recommend this book to any one I would recommend it to kids 9-12 years old, also to people who like happy endings or scary ghost stories. If you like books that might relate to real life this is the book for you. When you read this book you'll never get enough of it.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany R. Johnson on September 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Mary Downing Hahn has done a fabulous job with "The Old Willis Place: a ghost story." From the first chapter, I was intriqued to discover the secrets of the old farm.

Diana and Georgie are two children who reside at the old Willis farm. They have been there for many, many years, and there is an air of mystery about them from the beginning. A new caretaker is moving in to take care of the old farm, one of the many Diana and Georgie have seen come and go; however, this one is different. He brings his daughter, Lissa, to the old farm with him.

Diana longs to have a friend. She and Georgie watch Lissa from afar and finally Diana shares her wish with Georgie. He becomes angry and reminds her of "the rules." These rules appeared in Diana and Georgie's mind after the bad thing happened. Diana and Georgie are not allowed to be seen by anyone and cannot leave the farm.

With each turn of the page, the reason for these rules become clearer. And, with each turn of the page, Diana wants to become friends with Lissa. At last, Diana shows herself. She and Lissa become friends, but Diana has broken a rule. The events that happen afterward are indescribable. You wouldn't believe it unless you read the story yourself!

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good ghost story. The characters, plot, and setting are all extremely well developed. I found myself trying to stay awake for one more page, something I had not done in a very long time. I could not put the book down, as it has a spellbinding effect. Even though this book is found in the juvenile section, I think everyone from 4th grade to old age will find something in it that they enjoy!
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