Gr 2-5-- A picture book in which the story is much stronger than the illustrations. Two young children delight in a gruesome story that their grandmother tells about Skinny Jack, the parson's mischievous farmhand whose blood turned to ice after a prank on the church organist backfired. One hundred years later, a maid, on a wager, carries still-frozen Skinny Jack to a party. He comes to life and begs forgiveness for his past misdeeds at the organist's grave. He then turns into a pile of ashes. On the way home, the young girl imagines that Skinny Jack is waiting to grab her. She is grabbed--by a hazelnut branch--and her father takes her home. This ``story within a story'' format works well, with both stories complementing each other. The tale of Skinny Jack is the stronger of the two, with its clever use of familiar folklore motifs and compelling story line. The second story, that of the children returning home, has a gentle, reassuring ending, but the element of a child's frightened imaginings has been more effectively dealt with in several other picture books, including The Ghost-Eye Tree (Holt, 1985) by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. The book's main flaw, however, lies with Wikland's inconsistent oil pastel illustrations. An effort has been made to further the ``story within a story'' aspect of the book through using two different styles of illustration. The first uses too-bright colors and is over-defined by elaborate cross-hatchings with pen and ink to illustrate the story of the children and their grandmother. The second style uses dark pastels without much definition to convey the ghostly happenings of Skinny Jack. Neither style is totally effective, and the illustrations do little to complement or enhance the text. --Denise A. Anton, Cornbelt Library System, Normal, Ill.