Tis a cold, dark night, and deathly still.
Dare two ghosts brave the nighttime chill?
Pray follow, dear reader, read on if you will,
to uncover the secret of the house on the hill.
An award-winning author and illustrator combine their talents in this deliciously spine-tingling story, with its lyrical text and just the right touch of spookiness.
When review items come up I usally read all of the synopsis for them and then decide if would like to review or not. In this case I was not interested in this book, but - when my daughter and I were at the Library to get our weekly reading material I saw this on the shelf and as I remembered it had quite high scores decided to take him to read. My daughter did not appear so excited over it and instead we read all the other books first followed by this one. Also, to be noted she asked for me to reread all the other books we had except for this one. Instead we reread it when my eldest got home from school.
First of all I love the pictures. The details are amazing and I like how it stayed dark and grim til the end when all was revealed. An interesting way to do it and the pictures show so much detail including the fear the two ghosts have about approaching the house on the hill. The writing style is told in rhyme except for the last line which is always the same........ 'the house on the hill' so regradless if it fitted in with the previous line or not it was still used which I found a little off putting. It also does not flow as freely as I would of liked, noted when I said the wrong word and was corrected by my seven year old (troubling times a head I can see).
I did like that you have to conquor your fear and face it and in the end it was all for a good cause which has now lead to both of my girls pleading for a Halloween party this year. A cute book but not one I could see myself reading a lot. Does have a very cute appeal though.
My little Master Four is quite taken with all things "spooky" so this book appealed to me right away. I guess this is a result of him having four older brothers. He wanted to read the book right away asking me "Is it scary mum?" I said we would have to read it to see.
He loved pointing out all the "creepy" and unfamiliar things although there were a few moments he hid under his blanket till I read a bit he felt safe enough to look again. The book had a lot of repetition which I love as it gets him more involved and helps him to be able to recognise words. There was also a lot of rhyming which he also enjoyed!
The illustrations are mainly two colours throughout the book till the very last page where it is revealed that all the spooky and creepy characters were just children dressed up. This gained a lot of laughter from Mister Four who kept yelling they are just kids like me. This excitement lead to me reading the book another four or five times before finally being able to distract him.
I think this book would be great for 8-10 year olds but that depends on your child's interests as Mr Four loved it and we have read it a lot!
The front cover made me assume that the book might be above the heads (and scariness level) of my Mr Six and Miss Three. I wasn't too keen on the idea of them having nightmares as a result of listening to the story. However, I knew that the book appealed to me, so I was excited to read it for my own enjoyment. I also teach some classes with primary school aged children and this book stood out to me as being one that I could use when we create a soundscape to go with a story/poem. It is hard to find such a book and I think this would be perfect. There are plenty of opportunities to add in sound effects and layers of sounds and voice.
For my own children, I left this book on the coffee table for a week and it seemed that the kids hadn't even touched it. I wasn't 100% sure if they would find it too scary or not. It was only today when I asked the kids if they wanted to sit with me while I read it that they let me know that Mr Six had in fact read it to Miss Three and they knew what it was all about. They weren't scared at all and Mr Six picked up the book and announced "Mum, did you know that the ghosts are just kids dressed up". He proceeded to show me the last page of the book. It goes to show that kids surprise us all the time and we shouldn't underestimate them!
The text is written in rhyme and both of my kids had fun preempting the last line of each phrase. The repetition of the words "....the house on the hill" at the end of each verse allowed Miss Three to have an involvement in the story too. There are plenty of interesting words to keep the reader interested and to help paint a picture with the words as they are read. The text and illustrations are equally valuable as the reader progresses through the book.
The illustrations are very simple in colour scheme. Many variations of brown and cream are used throughout the book to great effect. When other colours are introduced in the last few pages of the book, the otherwise 'scary' story moves on to depict the reality of a fun, spooky dress up party. This colour ensures that the scariness of the book isn't what the children hold as a lasting memory and lightens the mood considerably. Although the colours are simple, the illustrations themselves are anything but simple. They are very complex and extremely interesting to look at. There are exquisite details and patterns. The illustrations of the moths really caught my eye and I have gone back to them a number of times to enjoy them.
Overall, this is a book that I really enjoyed. Although my children gained some entertainment from me, I would think that it would hold real value with children who were a few years older. I would imagine that children seven to ten would get a lot of fun out of it. The age range would extend further if the book was used to create a ghostly soundscape on the computer to accompany the reading of the text!
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