My Brother's Ghost

My Brother's Ghost

by Allan Ahlberg
     
 

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Frances Foggarty, now in her fifties, remembers her childhood.. When she was nine her ten-year-old brother, Tom, was hit by a milk-float and killed. He returns after the funeral and Frances's story is of her new relationship with Tom, the ghost and 'guardian angel'. Frances wears a caliper as a result of polio and she and her young brother live with a rather…  See more details below

Overview

Frances Foggarty, now in her fifties, remembers her childhood.. When she was nine her ten-year-old brother, Tom, was hit by a milk-float and killed. He returns after the funeral and Frances's story is of her new relationship with Tom, the ghost and 'guardian angel'. Frances wears a caliper as a result of polio and she and her young brother live with a rather tyrannical aunt. In this touching tale of loss, hardship and endurance Frances comes to terms with Tom's death and moves on in her life.

Editorial Reviews

The thing that first makes you covet this book is its diminutive size: it wants to find a permanent home in the palm of your hand. The second thing is its binding--its gold foil-stamped cloth cover is reminiscent of bookbinding from the turn of the century when bustles were still in style. It is so quaint, so British! Judged by the expedient standards of our throw-away age, My Brother's Ghost is a rarity--a book that even the most jaded bibliophile can admire. But the thing that makes you love and remember this book most is a story that is so touching and true that you just know that ghosts are real. Young Tom is dead, struck and killed by a milk truck when he ran into the street in pursuit of Rufus, his dog. Yet, four days later, he is seen at the cemetery, leaning against a tree, by his brother Harry and his sister Frances. The next time Frances sees him is a few days later in the rain. He is sitting on a wall, trying to say something--but no sound passes his lips. Frances notes that, as she is becoming drenched in the downpour, Tom's hair is bone-dry. That night, Frances creeps into Tom's room and, surrounded by his things, feeling like an intruder, she begins to cry. Frances, who wears a leg brace, is having a hard time at school. And both she and Harry, who himself wets the bed, are having a hard time at home, where their Aunt Marge cares for her orphaned relations, while nursing a deep resentment. Tom begins visiting Harry at night, helping his little brother to the bathroom so he can escape Aunt Marge's wrath. He also begins walking Frances to school. "He got to Harry when he was needed," says Frances. "And he got to me." Tom even saves her life. Tom continues to visit Francesand Harry for six more years, and then he goes away. You'll have to read the book to find out why. This story rings so true that one wonders if Allan Ahlberg, who lost his late wife Janet, has had some real-life experiences with ghosts. Researchers report that between fourteen and fifty percent of persons questioned in various studies report having had contact with spirits of the dead. (The lower figure comes from studies of the general population, while the higher percentage comes from studies of widows and other bereaved persons.) People do not talk about these experiences for fear of being labeled "flaky." Yet, research suggests that these extraordinary contacts with the dead are, in fact, quite ordinary and "normal." Authors, of course, can cloak such real experiences in fictional characters and settings. Stories like My Brother's Ghost offer a good way to work out things like grief. The truest thing about this book is the fact that love ties continue beyond death. Even if you do not believe in ghosts, you must believe that love endures. 2001, Viking, $9.99. Ages 9 up. Reviewer: Dan Dailey SOURCE: The Five Owls, September/October 2001 (Vol. 16, No. 1)
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-Working-class England in 1956 is the setting for this story. The protagonist is 9 when the book opens, but she narrates the events from her 51st year looking back. Tragedy strikes orphaned Frances Fogarty when her 10-year-old brother is struck by a milk-float and dies. Then the boy appears at his own funeral, and only Frances and her three-year-old brother, Harry, can see him. Tom does his best to protect and to guide Frances past her strict, often mean aunts and a bully at school. However, after being punished for stealing, she runs away with Harry in tow and ends up sinking in the canal. Tom saves her and things improve at home. A few years later, Tom's dog dies and the two of them disappear together. So much happens that it is hard to cover all the bases. The writing is excellent, and the characters and time period are nicely constructed and skillfully evoked. However, the intended audience is difficult to define. The story is very short, but the vocabulary is intense. It's a ghost story that isn't scary and an affecting family tale that centers on the supernatural. It's likely to be a shelf sitter.-Timothy Capehart, Leominster Public Library, MA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Even after his death, Tom is there for his little sister and brother in this poignant ghost story. Recalling events that began four decades earlier, Frances describes how Tom, then ten, lost his life running into the street, but reappeared-to her and little Harry alone-at his funeral, and at odd intervals thereafter for the next several years. What drew him back? Perhaps his sense of duty as big brother, for he is there to help Harry get over his bedwetting, to keep Frances company as her polio makes her an outsider at school, and once even to save her life when she falls into a canal. Or perhaps it was loneliness, because after burying the body of their old mongrel Rufus, Frances sees Tom for the last time taking the dog for a ghostly walk. A tiny format marks this as a special book, not one to be zipped through, but tucked in a pocket and savored. Frances's matter of fact, plainspoken tale will leave smart readers thinking about ghosts and memories, brothers and sisters, and the timelessness of love. (Fiction. 10-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780141928067
Publisher:
Penguin UK
Publication date:
02/01/2001
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 11 Years

Meet the Author

Allan Ahlberg, a former teacher, postman, plumber's mate and grave digger, is a fulltime writer. He has published over 100 children's books and, with his late wife Janet, created such award-winning picture books as EACH PEACH PEAR PLUM and THE JOLLYCHRISTMAS POSTMAN - both winners of the Greenaway Medal. He has also written prize-winning poetry and fiction for older readers. Allan now lives in London.

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