(Copy was provided to read and review.)
The book contains 15 short stories, aimed at children 8 - 11, and the text is interspersed with lovely black and white illustrations.
Personally, I don’t think the cover image does the book justice, because there are quite a few really good ghost stories inside.
It’s a beautiful compilation, which, because each story is just a couple of pages long, also offers a good starting point for a reluctant young reader.
Already the first story shows the author’s skill and it reminded me a bit of one of my all time favourites, “The Giant’s Necklace” by Michael Morpurgo.
In “A Cornish Encounter” a shy boy, on holiday in Cornwall with his parents, meets by accident a strange young lad, who appears to be his age and certainly shares his love for playing football.
But there’s a nice surprise in store.
The second story is one of my favourites. In “A Friend Indeed” the lighthouse keeper’s daughter sees on a very stormy day a dog running up and down the beach. With the wind howling and the incoming tide crashing with dangerously high waves against the shore, what is the reason for the dog being there?
I totally loved the twist at the end.
“A Step In Time” is a story of a school outing. The class visits a schoolhouse in The Open Victorian Museum and best mates Jon and Rafee are having a great time and are up to all sorts of mischief, until a strange and mysterious fog starts to appear.
In “Amber Eyes” an insurance employee has to deliver a check to a rather strange house. Something isn’t quite right about its occupant.
“Do Something Scary” is another one I really liked.
Eleven-year-old Katie had a skiing accident in the past. Luckily, it was a minor one, but she is very scared to go back on the slope. Her family on the other hand is keen to go back to Bulgaria for a skiing holiday and persuade Katie to come along, too. They enroll her in a starter class, to gain new confidence and first all goes well. The problems start, when she is moved to the more advanced learners, here she feels completely out of place. In fact, she dislikes attending so much, she starts skiing on her own, where she has a dangerous encounter. Luckily an old lady is there to help and she offers a very good advice, but will it do the trick and will Katie pluck up the courage to go back on the slope with her family?
In “Doing The Right Thing” Matthew has one chance to prove, that he is good enough to play in the school football team. On his way to the match, something happens and he has to make a very difficult and important decision. Will he make the right choice?
“Look Into The Future” Jessica loves to visit her aunt’s estate with her mum on Sundays, as she is allowed to play on the grounds, but this time things turn out different.
I found the encounter here a bit confusing and would’ve loved to know more about the box.
“School Camp” is the story, I liked best. A young girl, going with her class on her first camping holiday, learns a very important lesson. A heartfelt story told by a very clever mother, simply an excellent read.
“Shut Fast” This is a strange story. Two siblings struggle to open the jammed front door, both their parents are at work (or at least on the way to it) and then a heavy thunderstorm starts outside, causing a power cut and something rather bizarre happens.
“Sports Star” Fabio loves to go to the basketball training in the local secondary school gym, but one day he has there a rather strange encounter. This one is my son’s favourite.
“The Mad Professor” is the story I liked the least, it’s really quite weird. There’s a truly mad professor living in an old Edwardian house and when his housekeeper brings her young nephew and niece along the professor has some rather amazing sweets for them.
“The Man With The Long Hair” There’s a rumour, that one of the neighbours of Ebony’s grandmother is a wizard. But is it true, what they say about Mr. Crombie, the man with very long and very beautifully kept white hair?
“The Var” This is another lovely story which shows, how easily we prejudge others. One day, when Emily plays as a young child, in the garden of her parent’s house, she sees something strange in the old cottage on the other side of the hedge. Her Mother thinks no one lives there and from now on stories are made up, of an imaginary old lady, The Var, as the inhabitant of the house and a lot of mocking and teasing is going on. But is the cottage really empty?
“Trapped!” Nadia, Isaac and Spencer are out playing “Survivor” in the country park, which turns suddenly into a dangerous situation when they find, they’ve lost the way and it’s getting dark.
Will the friends find the way home? Here I did regret, that it was just a short story, as it really had potential to be explored in more depth.
Finally there’s “Whipers From The Past”, where young Jack hears of a box and where to find it, but who told him about the secret and what is inside? Another good story with an interesting twist.
It is the author’s aim to inspire and encourage children to be creative, maybe even to start writing their own stories.
I think, Melody Starkey has laid the foundation to achieve her goal with this wonderful set of short stories, which carry very good messages and which are an enjoyable read.
About the Author
Melody Starkey has been a primary school teacher for thirty-five years, working around Birmingham and Coventry. She has taught all subjects, but for past seven years has been an Advanced Skills teacher for Dance and P.E., and continues to work in that area in schools around Coventry.