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Golden and Grey: (An Unremarkable Boy and a Rather Remarkable Ghost)

Golden and Grey: (An Unremarkable Boy and a Rather Remarkable Ghost)

4.6 3
by Louise Arnold

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Tom Golden is a boy who doesn't fit in.
Grey Arthur is a ghost who can't figure out where he belongs. When a trick of fate creates an instant connection between them, Grey Arthur discovers what he is meant to be: Tom's invisible friend!

It seems like such a good idea — Grey Arthur can make sure Tom always has his homework in class and protect


Tom Golden is a boy who doesn't fit in.
Grey Arthur is a ghost who can't figure out where he belongs. When a trick of fate creates an instant connection between them, Grey Arthur discovers what he is meant to be: Tom's invisible friend!

It seems like such a good idea — Grey Arthur can make sure Tom always has his homework in class and protect him from bullies, and Tom never has to know. But when an accident gives Tom the ability to see and communicate with the ghost world, chaos breaks loose. Now everyone wants a piece of Tom, and Grey Arthur is the only one who can help him!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"This sparkling, crisply written first novel chronicles the friendship forged between Tom Golden, an 11-year-old English boy and outcast, and Grey Arthur, an earnest ghost who has failed to find his calling," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Humans and ghosts do coexist, believe it or not. This is a magical tale about an average eleven-year-old boy, Tom Golden, and an amiable centuries-old ghost, Grey Arthur. One blue Tuesday, invisible Grey Arthur sits on a lonely park bench pondering his disappointing past and hopeless future. Rain falls on both England and Grey Arthur as he mutters "life isn't fair." At that same moment, Tom arrives home from his new school after being bullied and harassed by his classmates, and tearfully says "life isn't fair." Grey Arthur follows Tom's emotional outcry until he locates him, and then realizes his purpose is to be Tom's Invisible Friend. Grey Arthur remains Tom's protective Invisible Friend until Tom is hit by a car and sustains a head injury. Instantly, Tom is able to see his Invisible Friend. Concerned about their son's recent bizarre behavior, Tom's parents hire a child psychologist. In her debut novel, Arnold entertains the reader with her witty descriptions of interesting interactions between humans and ghosts. Some readers may decide that the psychologist's evil character and the book's ending are predictable. If you happen to notice any unexplained sights or sounds, you may have your own Invisible Friend! 2005, McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, Ages 8 to 12.
—Mary Jo Edwards
School Library Journal
Gr 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 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Tom Golden and Grey Arthur are misfits. Bemoaning their respective dismal lives one day, they utter the words "Life's not fair" at the same moment and set a remarkable chain of events in motion. Grey's a ghost who hasn't found his proper niche, and Tom's the new kid who's friendless and tormented at school. Grey decides his destiny lies in becoming Tom's "Invisible Friend" and getting him out of trouble. This becomes more complicated when Tom begins actually to see Grey and a whole host of other denizens of the ghost world. This charming and funny debut by a British comic heads toward a suspenseful climax as a con man kidnaps Tom in a nefarious plot to force Grey to help him win lottery millions. It's up to Grey and Tom's other spectral chums to effect an ectoplasmic rescue in a fast-paced, perfectly plausible read that will have readers wishing they, too, had such remarkable friends, ghostly or otherwise. (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.70(d)
1000L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Grey Arthur

Some ghosts are all lightning and fierce eyes, chains rattling and dramatic wailing. Some ghosts are made of mischief and mayhem, rearranging furniture when backs are turned and laughing a silent laugh at shocked faces. Some ghosts are made of centuries of tears, and just seeing them makes you feel sad for weeks after. Some ghosts seem like normal people, just a more see-through shade of real. And some ghosts, ghosts like Grey Arthur, are made of cloud, with no firm edges, and aren't very ghostlike at all. Ghosts like Grey Arthur don't make you feel scared, or confused, or sad: Ghosts like Grey Arthur you tend not to notice at all.

Which, thought Grey Arthur, was decidedly unfair.

However, fair or not, this was the way it was, and this was the way it continued to be.

The centuries spun on, as the centuries do, night following day following night. The seasons chased one another like a dog chases its tail — summer, autumn, winter, spring...The hours rolled forward, the world grew older, paths turned to streets, streets turned to roads, roads turned to motorways. Castles fell quiet, then fell into ruins, then buzzed and whirred into life once more, full of tourists and tea shops and books on local history.

The world was changing, and yet some things stayed the same. Humans ate and slept and worked, ghosts haunted, screamed, and were mischievous, and Grey Arthur...Well, he was Grey Arthur, and didn't really do much.

The corridors of time echoed with hauntings, with the sound of Chain Rattlers rattling, Screamers screaming, Sadness Summoners weeping, Poltergeists laughing...Stories around campfires, or sealed inside books, talked of the Faintly Reals, of Bugs, of Snorgles, of faces underneath your bed or objects moving with nobody nearby. Ghost stories etched into legends, made into films, guided tours to haunted locations...

There were no stories about Grey Arthur passed down through the years. No legends, no myths, no tales told in whispers at sleepovers, no costumes stitched for October 31. What stories are there to tell about a ghost who isn't scary? About a ghost who doesn't haunt? What stories are there to tell about a ghost who just tends to fade into the background?

All that was about to change, though.

Because this is where Grey Arthur's story begins.

(It's a story he shares with someone else, but we'll get to that later.)

Arthur's story doesn't begin with a Once Upon a Time, in a Land Far Away. It begins with a Tuesday, in England, on a bench in a park.

It begins with a cold, damp day. A day where the sky is dull with bloated clouds that threaten rain. A day where the sun has decided it has far better places to be than on the cold misty edges of England.

It begins with Grey Arthur, sitting on that bench with his head in his hands (not literally, like some ghosts do, but in the way that miserable people sit), watching the Real World go by. Watching humans walk dogs, and play soccer, and eat sandwiches, and do whatever humans do on a Tuesday. The humans couldn't see Arthur, as humans can't see ghosts, but even if they could have seen him it's very unlikely they'd have been scared. Confused maybe, a little bewildered, but there wouldn't be a hint of terror. Grey Arthur just simply didn't look scary.

The best way to honestly describe Grey Arthur is that he looked as if he had been put together in a hurry. When he remembered to have two ears, one was invariably a bit higher on his head than the other, and his hair seemed to have been designed for someone with a different-shaped head. He looked like a boy, and was little-boy shaped, but a boy who had been photographed with a shaky camera, and his outline was all blurred. He wore a little ghostly shirt and waistcoat, and little ghostly trousers, with ghostly socks that didn't match and ghostly shoes that were all scuffed. When Arthur's concentration wandered, he tended to fray around the edges and become more cloudlike than child shaped, and this annoyed him endlessly. Finally, to top it all off, Grey Arthur took his name from the fact that he looked like he was made in black and white, like the old movies were.

Grey Arthur, all untidy and put together in shades of grey, sat on a bench in England on a grey-skied day, feeling thoroughly sorry for himself. See, the real problem, the thing that caused the shadow of sadness to cling to Arthur, the thing that caused a heavy ball of misery to tug inside him, was that he hadn't found out what he was yet. There are more different types of ghost than there are different colors of crayon, and yet Grey Arthur didn't belong to any group. He wasn't scary enough to be a Screamer, wasn't naughty enough to be a Poltergeist, wasn't melancholy enough to be a Sadness Summoner...Each different thing Arthur had tried to be, he'd failed. So this is why, centuries of trying and failing later, Grey Arthur sat on a bench on his own, head in his hands, watching the world go by. That Tuesday was the day that Arthur had realized something, and it had made him feel even greyer than usual.

Arthur had realized that he'd never fit in. After all these endless years of trying, he realized that it was time to give up.

It began to rain.

"Life isn't fair." He sighed.

Copyright © 2005 by Louise Arnold

Tom Golden

Tom Golden rushed through the front door of number eleven, Aubergine Road, slamming it shut behind him, and hurtled straight up the stairs to his bedroom, slamming that door shut behind him too. He flung his schoolbag on his bed and sloped across to the mirror on the far wall.

"Tom, is that you?" shouted his mum from downstairs. "Tom, dinner's ready."

"I'm not hungry!" yelled back Tom. He peered into the mirror on his wall and saw his eye was beginning to turn slightly purple where someone's elbow had smashed into it. His bottom lip began to wobble. As he looked in the mirror, studying the bruising beginning to frame his eye, he noticed something pink in his hair. He reached up to pull it out, and as his fingers sank into it he realized it was bubble gum. Tom breathed deeply, biting back on tears. He tugged it as hard as he could, but the bubble gum simply stretched and pulled at his scalp, and wouldn't shift.

"Tom, honey, are you okay? It's your favorite dinner; it's bangers and mash. You sure you don't want any?" called his mum from downstairs again.

"I'm fine, Mum! I told you I'm not hungry!" Tom picked up a pair of scissors from his desk and carefully began to cut away the tangled-up hair. The chunk of bubble gum fell out, with patches of Tom's hair sticking out from it at angles. The remaining hair protruded from Tom's head, an embarrassing tuft. Tom tried sticking it down with some gel, but it refused to lie flat with the rest of his hair, determinedly sticking out at a funny angle. Sighing, he reached across and opened his clothes drawer, and after rummaging around he found a baseball cap and put it on. Sinking down onto his bed, Tom put his stereo on and breathed deeply, trying to keep the tears at bay.

The CD player whirred to life, and Tom's favorite band, Cold Fish, began singing their hit "Bottom Feeder." Tom turned up the volume. Sometimes, if you turned up the sound high enough, you could almost drown out your thoughts. Fill your head with guitar and drums and try to push out all the insults that had been put there at school that day. Tom liked that idea, but even with the music turned up so loud that he could feel the bass rumbling in his chest, the insults still whirred around his mind, like hamsters running in a wheel, over and over and over again.

There was a knock at the door, and Tom turned the volume back down again. It was Dad's knock. You could always tell what parent it was by the way they knocked. Mum knocked lightly and fast, whereas Dad, by force of habit, always knocked out a little tune. Tap-tappy-tap-tap.

"Are you all right, Tom? Mum said you're not feeling very hungry," Dad said through the door.

"I'm fine, Dad."

"Can I come in?"

"No, I'm getting changed," lied Tom.

"You're not ill, are you?"

"I'm fine, Dad."

"You sure?"

"I'm sure, Dad."

"Well, you know if you want to talk..." Dad trailed off. Tom knew what he meant. "If you want to talk, I'm here, Tom," is what he would say. Tom didn't want to talk. What was there to say? What could Tom's dad do? Move them back to where they used to live? They'd only just finished unpacking here, the dustbin still filled to breaking with broken-down cardboard boxes and discarded bubble wrap. Make the kids here like him? If Dad intervened they'd make even more fun of him than they already did (if that was even possible). No, Tom didn't want to talk....

"Honestly, Dad, I'm fine. Just a little tired, that's all." He paused, trying to make his voice sound as light as possible. "I'll be down in a bit."

Tom heard his dad's footsteps traipsing back down the stairs, and he sat up on his bed and began to get changed out of his school uniform. He took off his tie and threw it on the floor. As he took off his shirt, he realized the whole back of it had been flicked and sprayed with pen ink, and stuck slam in the middle was a little note that had been taped on at some stage of the day. FREAK, it read, in big, fat letters.

The strange thing was, Tom Golden was an incredibly normal boy. His hair (which fitted his head perfectly, apart from the new tuft where the bubble gum had been) was mousy brown, and his eyes were also brown, like chestnuts or melted chocolate. He had two ears, both the same height, and there was nothing peculiar about them. They weren't pointed, or tiny, or massive, or green. They were distinctly average human ears on a distinctly average head. He was slightly shorter than most of the other kids in his class, but he wasn't pocket sized, simply smaller than average sized, and there's nothing wrong with that. He was the youngest in his year, a side effect of having a birthday on August 31, something that probably didn't help the height gap between him and the rest of the children in his school. He didn't look like he had been made in a rush: Everything was where it belonged and nothing was blurred or faded about him. He was an only child, but there was nothing odd about that either, as many children are only children; and his parents were normal parents. They didn't lock him in a cellar and make him eat coal, and they didn't dress him in gold and spoil him rotten. They didn't make him eat broccoli if he hated it, and they didn't let him swear. They were normal parents, and Tom was a normal boy, except somehow he was weird, a freak, and very much different from everyone else.

It had to be true, because the other kids said so.

This note was final proof.

It hadn't been like this in his old school. In his old school Tom had always had somebody to talk to at lunchtime. In his old school he'd always had enough friends to fill a birthday party. In his old school he hadn't had bubble gum spat in his hair, or had elbows bruise his face. In his old school he hadn't been a freak.

But his old school, and his old friends, were miles and miles and miles away. Tom Golden had started secondary school in a place with no familiar faces, and certainly a distinct lack of friendly ones.

Tom crumpled up the note and threw it in the bin, and then threw his shirt in the general direction of the laundry basket. He sank back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling, tears starting to form as fast as he tried to blink them away. He turned the music back up, but even Cold Fish couldn't chase this sadness away. His eye throbbed with pain where the bruise was beginning to form. It was only Tuesday, which meant he still had all of Wednesday and Thursday and Friday to go before the weekend, and then only two days off before he had to start it all over again. The name-calling, the spitting, the notes, the laughing, the lonely walks home, and the lunchtimes hidden away in a distant corner of the field where nobody could steal your food or push you when the teachers weren't looking. The summer holidays seemed an eternity away. Tears ran down from Tom's eyes and dripped past his ears onto his bed.

Outside, it began to rain.

"Life isn't fair." He sighed.

Copyright © 2005 by Louise Arnold

Meet the Author

Louise Arnold wrote her first poem (about the adventures of cheese-eating bees) at the age of four, and her love of writing was born. She graduated with a degree in drama from University of Kent in Canterbury, England, where she now resides.

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Golden and Grey 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Grey Arthur is a lonely ghost who doesn't fit in anywhere. He's not a poltergeist, he's not a Sadness Summoner, he's not a Faintly Real--it's not fair! Tom Golden is a new kid who's earned the nickname Freak Boy, sit's alone during lunch--it's not fair! Grey Arthur decides that he will become Tom's invisible friend. Something crazy happens to Tom and now he can see his new friend... and all of the other ghosts that exist! This book is wonderful. There's mystery, action, and ghostly humor. I couldn't put it down! This is a great read for children and adults.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is The Best book I have ever Read!!!! If you are a Fiction lover READ THIS BOOK!!!!