Ghost Ship

( 7 )


"I am so pleased to have written my first children's book and to have my dear friend Wendell Minor illustrate it. I thought it would be a daunting project, but with six grandchildren and eleven stepgrandchildren, I've been telling stories to children for a long time."

-- Mary Higgins Clark

Thomas loved his summer visits to his grandmother's on Cape Cod. He spent hours wondering about the sailing ships of the past and imagining their stories. He...

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"I am so pleased to have written my first children's book and to have my dear friend Wendell Minor illustrate it. I thought it would be a daunting project, but with six grandchildren and eleven stepgrandchildren, I've been telling stories to children for a long time."

-- Mary Higgins Clark

Thomas loved his summer visits to his grandmother's on Cape Cod. He spent hours wondering about the sailing ships of the past and imagining their stories. He dreamed of being on a sailing ship himself. One afternoon after a night of terrible thunderstorms, Thomas finds, deep in the sand, a weathered, old-fashioned belt buckle. When he picks it up, a boy his own age, Silas Rich, who was a cabin boy on a ship called the Monomoy that sailed almost 250 years ago, appears. Suddenly the world of sailing ships is very near as Silas tells his tale.

Beloved and bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark tells a story of mystery and adventure that will transport readers to a time and place beyond their imaginings in her first book for children. Wendell Minor's inspired paintings make a time long ago very real.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Bestselling adult author Clark's debut children's book meshes two eras, each depicted by Minor (Lucky) in finely detailed, light-infused paintings. Modern-day nine-year-old Thomas has grown up hearing his grandmother speak of Captain Hallett, who built her seaside Cape Cod home more than 300 years ago. One day, while beachcombing after a storm on the Cape, Thomas finds a belt buckle featuring the image of a ship, which in turn conjures a ghostlike boy dressed in 17th-century clothing. The ghostly boy introduces himself as Silas, a cabin boy on Hallett's ship, then explains that the lighthouse outside Thomas's grandmother's home did not exist in the days when Hallett sailed—and that he and his peers had to do some quick thinking to save the Captain from shipwreckers one night. Clark takes some of the wind out of Silas's sails when the boy pauses during the dramatic tale to explain some terms ("Sober light? I don't know what that means," says Thomas; "Perhaps you would say twilight... or... dusk.... What I mean is the time just before the sun is totally vanished in the sky," Silas replies). When Silas successfully thwarts the efforts of the "mooncussers" (aka shipwreckers), he earns the very belt buckle Thomas retrieved from the sand. Later, Thomas returns to his grandmother's house, where the tale comes neatly full circle: he gazes on a portrait of Hallett, who sports the buckle as the man's ship floats in the background. Ages 6-10. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Laura Ruttig
Set in Cape Cod, this imaginative journey begins at a modern-day beach but quickly travels back through time with the help of a young boy's ghost. Thomas, the modern-day boy, is digging idly in the sand when he finds an unusual belt buckle. As he removes the dirt and debris, the buckle begins to shine and a boy about his age named Silas appears. Silas tells an intriguing story of an 18th-century near-shipwreck caused by "mooncussers"—thieves who put lanterns on the beach to try to misdirect a ship into a false harbor. Thomas is fascinated because the house where he is staying was built by Captain Hallett, whose ship was almost crashed. Clark's talented storytelling creates a captivating link between Silas and Thomas that allows the reader to decide whether the tale is purely in Thomas's imagination or not. Minor's magnificent illustrations give breathtaking life to the tale, particularly the wonderful ghostly appearance of Silas, as he successfully conveys the feel of the time period and the suspense of the story. Ultimately, this intriguing balance and interaction between the text and pictures creates an outstanding picture book for roughly first- and second-grade students, or younger children if read aloud.
Kirkus Reviews
The prolific author of adult novels turns her hand to children's literature with a ghostly picture-book story. Young Thomas loves to indulge in his daydreams about sailing history while at his grandmother's in Cape Cod. One day, while scanning the beach for interesting objects, he spots what turns out to be an old belt buckle. Suddenly, an opaque boy who looks much like Thomas appears-Silas, who is from the early colonial history of Massachusetts, is the owner of the belt buckle. In this wordy story, he tells of an attempt by dishonest locals to wreck and scavenge from a ship via false lights, and how he and his friends were able to stop the attempted murder of Thomas's ancestor Captain Hallett. Minor's illustrations enliven the lengthy story; the effects of the ghostly figure, the sinister bad guys and the signal fires definitely help. His use of color continues to impress, as does his ability to employ unique perspectives. But the story itself is forced and awkward, and even pretty pictures can't bring it to life. While it could be useful for teachers needing read-alouds about American history, this is not a necessary purchase. (Picture book. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416935148
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • Publication date: 4/3/2007
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 445,649
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Higgins Clark
Mary Higgins Clark, #1 international and New York Times bestselling author, has written thirty-four suspense novels; three collections of short stories; a historical novel, Mount Vernon Love Story; two children’s books, including The Magical Christmas Horse; and a memoir, Kitchen Privileges. With her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, she has coauthored five more suspense novels, and also wrote The Cinderella Murder with bestselling author Alafair Burke. Her books have sold more than 100 million copies in the United States alone.

Wendell Minor is the award-winning illustrator of dozens of picture books, including his own Yankee Doodle America, Robert Burleigh's Into the Woods, and Reaching for the Moon, written by Buzz Aldrin. Mr. Minor's work can be found in the permanent collections of such institutions as the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and the Library of Congress. He lives with his wife, Florence, in Washington, Connecticut. Visit Wendell Minor at

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    1. Hometown:
      Saddle River, New Jersey and New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 24, 1929
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      New York University; B.A., Fordham University, 1979
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Ghost Ship
By Mary Higgins Clark Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books Copyright © 2007 Mary Higgins Clark
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3514-8

Chapter One Summer had begun and Thomas was visiting his grandmother who lived in a very old house in Cape Cod that had once belonged to a sea captain. Sometimes she told him stories about the great sailing ships that had come to Cape Cod many years ago from all over the world. She told him that in the old days when a storm suddenly began, a ship trying to reach harbor would be driven into the rocks and sand bars, where it would break up and sink.

Thomas loved to hear the stories. He wondered about the sea captain who had built this house more than two hundred years ago. He wondered if that sea captain ever lost a ship in a storm. He thought about that a lot.

One day Thomas went down the long flight of stairs from the lawn to the beach. He had promised his grandmother that he would not go too near the water until she joined him. His grandmother knew that Thomas would never break his word.

There had been a heavy storm the night before. The wind had whipped the waves until they slammed halfway up the stairs before crashing back onto the shore. Now the beach was littered with shells and rocks that had been washed in by the sea. Thomas began to sift sand through his fingers. The sand was damp, but he liked that.

Sometimes after a storm he would find unusual things that had been in the ocean. Once he had even found a small ring. His grandmother said it wasn't valuable but that it looked as though it had been in the ocean for a long, long time.

He wondered if after the big storm last night it was possible that he would find another ring. Or maybe he'd come upon an unbroken shell. If he did find one, he would put it up to his ear and listen, because shells hold the sound of the sea.

But then, suddenly, his fingers felt a hard metal object. He had to dig around it to set it free. It was much heavier than a shell. It looked very, very old. He ran his fingers over it and began to rub the sand and salt from it. But it was like trying to rub cement off a wall. He looked around and reached for a big rock and began to try to scrape the crust off whatever it was he was holding in his hand.


Excerpted from Ghost Ship by Mary Higgins Clark Copyright © 2007 by Mary Higgins Clark. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Interviews & Essays

A Conversation with Mary Higgins Clark Q: Your adult books are worldwide bestsellers. What made you decide to write a children’s book?

A: Wendell Minor is my good friend and did the covers of four of my novels. We happened to be at a party together. His editor was with him and said half jokingly, "You two should write a book together." We instantly decided it was a good idea.

Q: Were there particular challenges in writing for children? A: Not really -- I always told my children stories. I have six grandchildren and eleven step-grandchildren, so I guess I have been telling stories for a while. Q: For this project, you collaborated with your longtime friend Wendell Minor, who illustrated Ghost Ship. How do you know each other? A: Wendell Minor did the cover for my first suspense novel, Where Are the Children?, which changed my life. I believe that his haunting, Edward Hopper–like cover contributed to its success. Q: What was it like to collaborate with an illustrator? Did you determine what would be illustrated? A: When Wendell received the text of the story, he called me to say that for him the text was very visual. He is a magnificent illustrator and I was delighted with every one of his sketches. They are truly works of art.Q: Ghost Ship is set on Cape Cod. Why did you pick Cape Cod as the setting for your picture book? A: I have been going to the Cape for the last forty years. The minute I stepped off the plane that first day, I felt as though I had lived there before. I have had a home there for thirty years, and it is a spirit-lifting retreat. A young cousin visiting from Ireland once said: "Mary, when you close your eyes in death and then open them in heaven, you'll find yourself in Cape Cod." Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer? A: I knew it as a child. The first thing I wrote was a poem, when I was six. I still have it. It’s pretty bad, but my mother thought it was beautiful and made me recite it for everyone who came in. I am sure the captive audience was ready to shoot me, but that kind of encouragement nurtures a budding talent. From the time I was seven, I also kept diaries. I can read them now and look back at what I was like at different ages. No one has seen them -- they are locked in a trunk.Q: What early experiences influenced you?A: I grew up in the Bronx, where my father was the owner of Higgins Bar and Grille. When I was eleven years old, I had a terrible shock. Coming home from early Mass one morning, I found a crowd of neighbors outside the house. My father had died in his sleep. My mother went on to raise me and my two brothers alone. When I had said good night to my father, I didn't know it was for the last time. His sudden death jolted me into awareness of the fragility of life. My mother's example taught me resilience. The protagonists of my novels are strong and resourceful women -- when calamity strikes, they carry on.Q: When did you start your writing career?A: Soon after my marriage to Warren Clark, I signed up for a short story writing course at New York University. Six years later and after forty rejections, I sold my first short story in 1956 to Extension Magazine for one hundred dollars. I framed that first letter of acceptance. Q: What was your first book?A: After Warren Clark's death in 1964, I went to work writing radio scripts and, in addition, decided to try my hand at writing books. My first book, a biographical novel about George Washington, Aspire to the Heavens, was inspired by a radio series I was then writing called "Portrait of a Patriot." Originally published in 1969 by Meredith Press, it seemed destined for obscurity. Its discovery years later by a George Washington descendant led to its reissue in 2002 by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association and Simon & Schuster with a new title, Mount Vernon Love Story, and became a bestseller. Q: What made you turn to the field of mystery and suspense?A: One of the best clues about what to write is what one likes to read, and I had always loved reading suspense. I decided to see if I could write a suspense novel. My first one, Where Are the Children? published by Simon & Schuster in 1975, became my first bestseller and marked a turning point in my life and career. It is now in its seventy-fifth edition and was reissued in hardcover as a Simon & Schuster classic.Q: Having reached the pinnacle of success, could you visualize a life of leisure?A: Somebody once said, "If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, love what you do." That's the way it is with me -- I'll always keep writing.Q: Do you plan to do more children's books? A: Yes. Wendell and I already have our heads together on the next one.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 2, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a fortunate find

    Nine-year-old Thomas Flemming, who lives in California, is spending the summer with his grandmother who lives in a very old house on Cape Cod, MA, which once belonged to a sea captain. One day, Thomas finds an old belt buckle in the sand on the beach. All of a sudden, a polite voice says, "Thou has found my belt buckle." When Thomas looks up, he sees a boy about his own age. He learns that the boy, Silas Rich, was a cabin boy for sea captain Andrew Hallett who had built the house that his grandmother now lives in. Thomas wants to know more about Captain Hallet and also how Silas's belt buckle ended up on the shore. Was there a shipwreck?<BR/> Mary Higgins Clark is the author of many suspense novels for adults, some written with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark. Mary is one of my wife's favorite authors. This is her first children's book. Ms. Clark is an excellent story teller, and this book, filled with mystery and adventure, is an intriguing look for young readers into the great sailing history of Cape Cod, where Ms. Clark lives. The lovely paintings by Mr. Minor make that time of 250 years ago seem quite real and close. Easily read in a short period, it is a great choice for children who are just beginning to read or for a cozy read aloud with preschoolers. This was a fortunate find!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2007

    A modern-day classic of old in a class all of its own

    I loved this book more than my 7 year-old did, and he loved it, too. This book reminded me of many bits and pieces of tales such as Captains Courageous, Treasure Island, 2001 Maniacs, Orgy of the Vampires and others, but it's presented in a way that makes the book quite different - and exciting - and entertaining!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2007

    very entertaining

    i love mary higgins clark and this is just one more great book from her. i sat and read it to both my kids and they loved it too. we all thought it was a great read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Great childrens book!

    I love the book and the pictures. Even this childs book I couldnt put down until I finished it. Just a good book for my 8yr old.

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  • Posted June 21, 2011

    Love it

    I love it its probly the best book that i read this month and so far i read1,600 books in the last 3 weeks

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

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    Posted February 17, 2012

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