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
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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 CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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