The Ghastly Gertie Swindle: With the Ghosts of Hungryhouse Lane

The Ghastly Gertie Swindle: With the Ghosts of Hungryhouse Lane

by Sam McBratney, Lisa Thiesing

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``It happened so fast. One day everything was the way it should be. The next day it was different. All wrong.'' At once quiet and urgent, McKenzie's (A Perfectly Orderly House) opening sentences set the tone she so ably sustains throughout this stirring novel, set in the rural Midwest in 1939. Ritchie, a sensitive 10-year-old, awakens one day to find that his mother has been taken to a hospital. His sour, pathetically incommunicative father tells him nothing, but the boy learns from his teacher that his mother has had something called a nervous breakdown. A kind neighbor named Thad explains what a breakdown might be, and then reaches out to Ritchie and his sickly younger sister, Rosie (whose favorite story is The Three Billy Goats Gruff), through a series of letters, allegedly written by the troll that Rosie believes lives underneath a nearby bridge. As the comforting voice of the troll draws the siblings into an allegorical fantasy, Thad pulls the two children through some dismal months, inventively teaching them about the importance of coping, communicating and maintaining hope. Filled with impressively lifelike characters, McKenzie's narrative is compelling from its sobering start to its resonant finish. Ages 9-12. (Nov.)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-5-Ritchie Willis, 10, has a lot to be unhappy about. His mother has had a nervous breakdown; his taciturn father refuses to provide explanations; his little sister, Rosie, is ill; and the class bully constantly threatens him. Rosie's favorite book is The Three Billy Goats Gruff, and she believes that a troll dwells under the bridge over a nearby creek. Then a mysterious letter arrives for Rosie from a self-proclaimed ``small and insignificant'' troll named pod. Ritchie's skepticism is apparent, but as the letters keep coming he decides that to determine the identity of a human writer would be to surrender to the mundane. Set in the American midwest in 1939, this multilayered novel explores the weaknesses and strengths of family relationships and peer rivalries in a poignant, realistic manner. The letters encourage Ritchie to cope rather than cower, enabling him to reassess the value of friendship, the importance of self-reliance, and the joy of accepting in his heart what his sense of logic cannot. A suspenseful story that extends the borders of readers' imaginations while delivering a subliminal message of optimism.-Joanne Kelleher, Commack Public Library, NY
Mary Harris Veeder
In this sequel to "Ghosts of Hungryhouse Lane" (1989), the Sweet children (who aren't particularly sweet) visit their elderly friend Amy Steadings and the ghosts in her attic. The English village backdrop and the great house filled with antiques may seem remote to some kids, but the Sweets will win readers. The feisty brood, whose sibling rivalries are brilliantly evoked in a few choice phrases, are actually more interesting than the ghosts, with their eighteenth-century manners and their whining about the hardships of ghosting. The housekeeper, Ghastly Gerty, who helps her larcenous son steal antiques from the house, is also memorable--because she's so sour. Young readers will enjoy the Sweets' squabbles and their lively, nondemanding adventures.

Product Details

Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

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