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Golden & Grey (An Unremarkable Boy and a Rather Remarkable Ghost) Hardcover – July 1, 2005
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From School Library Journal
Grade 3-7 -A friendless 11-year-old who gets picked on at school meets a ghost without a job. When Grey Arthur decides to become Tom's "Invisible Friend," things change for both of them. For some unexplained reason, the boy can suddenly see all kinds of ghosts and meets quite a few. In the novel's most amusing moments, Arthur describes the assorted ghost types to his new friend. These include Sadness Summoners, Faintly Reals, and several varieties of Poltergeists including Paperwork and Sock Harvesting specialists. When a con man posing as a psychiatrist kidnaps Tom, several of his supernatural friends join forces in the rescue effort. The intersection of ghosts and humans offers some funny moments, but the plot seems contrived as it veers from school problems to kidnapping. Tom is essentially a dull character; he whines frequently, and reacts to events but shows little individual personality. His total trust in the con man stretches credulity, and his parents come off as equally dense in that episode. The villain also veers out of character, foolishly trying to help a cat down from a tree in the midst of his grand evil scheme. Arthur is more fun, but the friendship between ghost and boy is not especially compelling. The inventive world of spirits portrayed here is the humorous draw, but an inconsistent plot and undeveloped characters prevent this from being a top choice in the ghostly humor field.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 4-6. Misfit ghost Grey Arthur and 11-year-old Tom Golden (a frequent scapegoat of bullies at his new school) share the belief that life is unfair, which somehow magically bonds them together. Arthur becomes Golden's "invisible friend," and Tom develops the ability to see ghosts--which contributes to their friendship but causes problems when some Screamers and a Sadness Summoner frighten Tom. The Goldens consult a child psychiatrist to make things right; unfortunately, the charlatan just wants to use Arthur to win the lottery. Arnold's debut novel gets off to a slow start, but children who stick with the story will be rewarded by a rousing finale that serves up just deserts and involves the efforts of the entire ghostly community. The characters are multidimensional, and Arnold's alternate reality is well thought out: her ghosts are individuals who train for a variety of jobs--among them, poltergeist and chain rattler. Briticisms abound, but that won't deter anyone who has read Harry Potter. Kay Weisman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
Avoiding Potter syndrome when you write a book dealing with ghosts is practically impossible. Arnold has stamped her impression on the nature of ghosts (they don't say "ooooo", they're not dead people, etc.), but she does include a ghostly newspaper (the Daily Tell-Tale), phantoms that suck in light, and a boy who is able to see spirits. Though perhaps unconsciously derivative, the force of Arnold's imagination is able to suppress most parallels in readers' minds.
The warmth of the story comes in the relationship between the two boys, and Arnold's descriptions of bullying and isolation. Tom seems destined to make a fool of himself, which Arnold knows means social death in schoolroom politics. She is also particularly astute on certain small details, like Tom's mother's disgusting leftovers, his father's experimental socks, and the repetitive routine of mornings before school. A stray cliché now and again ("cold fear" and things reaching out like "greedy hands") could have been edited out.
Golden and Grey's pace picks up measurably as the ghosts band together to use their talents against Tom's enemy. The "bad guy" is frighteningly real in a modern context, as is the reaction of Tom's parents to his situation. Descriptions of Tom's plight will have both generations of readers feeling taut inside. This kind of dramatic pull is hard to create, and Arnold deserves credit for achieving it. I look forward to reading her next book, which can hopefully avoid the problems of comparisons with Potter.
Golden & Grey is a quirky, intelligent and explosively imaginative tale about a young boy who, after an accident, can see ghosts. The ghost he is lucky enough to see is Grey Arthur, a lost creature who never knew what he was until he incorrectly attached himself to Tom Golden, believing he was his invisible friend. As irony has it, after Tom's accident his invisible friend becomes visible to no-one but him. This relationship between the two friends is marvellously played out, but it is the peripheral characters that really make the novel shine.
Too much detail at this stage would be foolish and spoil the fun, but Golden and Grey is full of warm and funny chracters, sinister madmen and a whole new world which you'll be dying to find out more about way after you put the book down.
This book will appeal to all, and really reminds me of the struggles of growing up (minus the ghosts). Bullies, stupid parents and blind-trust - three things everyone can surely relate to.
I recommend this book to anyone and hope to see more from this promising and highly-amusing author.
Then, Arthur hears Tom's plight and decides to become Tom's Invisible Friend. Arthur goes to school with Tom every day, helping him deal with the bullies, and each night he tells Tom stories of his Poltergeist hero, the Red Rascal. This could be a wonderful solution for Grey and Tom's loneliness --- if only Tom could see his new friend. Then one day, Tom gets into a bad accident and begins to see Arthur! Tom is at first unnerved by his newfound ability, but as Arthur introduces him to other characters --- including the hilarious Ballpoint Bill and Mrs. Scruffles --- Tom begins to have better days.
The boys' friendship comes at a price, however, when people from both worlds begin seeking out Tom. When Tom gets into a dangerous situation with a shady doctor, it's up to Arthur and his friends to rescue not only Tom, but also the delicate balance between ghosts and humans.
GOLDEN & GREY is a great story that presents the complexities of a boy's friendship with a ghost. Louise Arnold's debut is sure to be a favorite with readers now and in the future.
Most recent customer reviews
By Louise Arnold
Do you like books about Casper the Friendly Ghost? Well this book has a ghost that's just like him, his name is Grey Arthur.Read more