Ghosts!

 

Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth are filled with ghosts (and witches); Moaning Myrtle haunts the toilets at Harry Potter’s Hogwarts; and Dickens’s A Christmas Carol boasts not only the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, but a repentant Jacob Marley, rattling chains. And there are many more. Read at night, by flashlight, with a batch of glow-in-the-dark ghost cupcakes (yes! see below) by your side.

FAMOUS GHOSTS

 images From LiveScience, check out this list of Famous Ghosts.
 images Wikipedia’s List of Ghosts categorizes ghosts by country and classifies them under either Literature or Pop Culture.
 images Famous Ghosts in American History include Theodosia Burr, Dolley Madison, and John and Abigail Adams.

GHOST STORIES FOR ALL AGES

 imgres Ammi Joan Paquette’s Ghost in the House (Candlewick, 2013) is a cumulative counting book of Halloween characters in a haunted house, starting with an adorable and nervous little blue ghost. For ages 3-6.
 imgres-1 By John Bemelmans Marciano (grandson of original Madeline author Ludwig Bemelmans), Madeline and the Old House in Paris (Viking Juvenile Books, 2013) features mean-spirited orphanage inspector Lord Cucuface, who has taken an antique telescope from the attic of the old house in Paris. This has upset the resident 18th-century ghost, who has been waiting for hundreds of years to view the comet that caused his death. Madeline and friend Pepito save the day.  For ages 3-6.
 imgres-2 In Eve Bunting’s rhyming picture book In the Haunted House (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1994), two pairs of sneakered feet – blue (big) and red (small) –  tiptoe through a house crammed with ghosts, witches, and ghouls. (At the end, the red-sneakered person is ready to try it all over again.) For ages 3-6.
 imgres-3 In Jacqueline Ogburn’s The Bake Shop Ghost (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008), Miss Cora Lee Merriweather, proprieter of the bake shop who once baked the best cakes in town, has come back as an ill-tempered ghost and now is a thorn in the side of the new owner, Annie Washington. Cora promises to leave Annie alone if Annie will make her a cake as good as one that she might have baked herself. Creative Annie finally succeeds, but it takes some effort and understanding. A cake recipe is included. For ages 4-8.
  The Bake Shop Ghost is a teacher’s guide to accompany the book, with discussion questions and a list of multidisciplinary activities.
  See COOKING for many more cooking resources for all ages, including cookbooks, cooking and science, cooking in literature, cooking and art, and more.
 imgres-4 The title character of Kay Winters’s The Teeny Tiny Ghost (HarperCollins, 1999) is doing his best to be scarier, attending school to learn about Halloween, booing, spooky stories, and haunting – but he’s just not much good at being frightful.  Then a frightening RAP on the door compels him to defend his (adorable) teeny tiny cats. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-5 Alvin Schwartz’s Ghosts! (HarperCollins, 1993) is a collection of seven short “Ghostly Tales from Folklore” for beginning readers. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-6 By Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault, The Ghost-Eye Tree (Square Fish, 1988) is a story-poem about a little boy and his older sister, sent out at night to fetch a bucket of milk, which involves passing the the truly creepy Ghost-Eye tree (“feared by all/the great and small”). The little boy wears his special hat, which makes him feel safer, even though his sister tells him it makes him look stupid. An owl panics them; he loses the hat; and his sister bravely goes back to retrieve it. A wonderfully illustrated account of being scared of the dark. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-7 In Judith Viorst’s My Mama Says There Aren’t Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Creatures, Demons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins, or Things (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1987), Nick has his doubts: after all, he knows for a fact that Mama sometimes makes mistakes. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-8 By Mary Higgins Clark, Ghost Ship (Simon & Schuster, 2007) is the picture-book story of young Thomas who, on a visit to his grandmother’s house on Cape Cod, finds a belt buckle buried in the sand which conjures up the ghost of Silas, a cabin boy who lived 300 years ago. Silas tells Thomas the exciting tale of how he and his friends saved Captain Hallett’s ship from mooncussers – thieves who used lanterns to lure ships too close to shore so that they could steal the cargo from the wrecks.  With gorgeous illustrations by Wendell Minor. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-9 John Muth’s exquisitely illustrated Zen Ghosts (Scholastic Press, 2010) melds an American Halloween, a wisdom-dispensing, koan-speaking Zen panda named Stillwater, and a Japanese ghost story. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-10 Alvin Schwartz’s In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories (HarperCollins, 1985) – an I Can Read! Book – is a collection of seven short stories featuring toothy monsters, graveyards, and ghosts. Creepy, but not too creepy. For ages 6-8.
 imgres-11 In Marion Dane Bauer’s The Blue Ghost (Random House, 2006) – a Stepping Stone Book – nine-year-old Liz, visiting her grandmother in Minnesota, is awakened by a ghostly blue woman in old-fashioned clothes who calls her by name. Liz follows the woman through her bedroom wall and ends up in the cabin as it was when it was first built, where another Elizabeth just Liz’s age is struggling to care for three little boys and a baby – and she badly needs Liz’s help. A short chapter book for ages 7-9.
  Also by Marion Dane Bauer in the same format, see The Red Ghost, The Green Ghost, and The Golden Ghost.
 imgres-12 In Kate Klise’s Dying to Meet You (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), the first of the 43 Old Cemetery Road series, curmudgeonly children’s book writer Ignatius B. Grumply (“specializing in mysteries, mayhem, and the macabre”) rents a run-down Victorian mansion – only to find it already occupied by 11-year-old Seymour Hope, his cat Shadow, and the ghost of failed mystery writer Olive Spence, who lives in the cupola. The story is told in a clever and creative mix of letters, newspaper clippings, and manuscript excerpts. Many sequels. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-13 In Sid Fleischman’s The Midnight Horse (Greenwillow Books, 2004), it’s a dark and stormy night and the orphan boy, Touch, is en route to meet his evil uncle, Judge Wigglesworth, who is scheming to cheat Touch out of his inheritance.  En route he meets the ghost of the Great Chaffalo, a magician who can turn a heap of straw into a horse – and who becomes Touch’s ally. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-15 In Lauren Oliver’s Liesl and Po (HarperCollins, 2012), Liesl has been locked in the attic by her wicked stepmother after her father’s death. There she is befriended by a little ghost Po – neither male nor female – and Po’s insubstantial pet Bundle, who is not quite a cat and not quite a dog. Po tells Liesl that her dead father needs her help to cross safely to the other side. There’s a mix-up, however, when Will, a miserable alchemist’s apprentice, somehow manages to exchange a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with the box containing Liesl’s father’s ashes. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-16 In Sharon Creech’s Pleasing the Ghost (HarperCollins, 2013) , nine-year-old Dennis is a basic, ordinary boy – except that, ever since his father died, he sees ghosts. Then the ghost of his Uncle Arvie arrives, sporting a purple sweater and a red cowboy hat – who, having suffered a stroke in real life, now speaks only in gibberrish. Arvie wants Dennis to help widowed Aunt Julia find a hidden stash of treasure, but the search is complicated by Uncle Arvie’s inability to say anything more coherent than “Macaroni dinosaur!” Both funny and sad, as Dennis copes with loss, makes friends with Billy, who has also lost his dad, and does his best to help Arvie. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-17 The protagonist of Elizabeth Cody Kimmel’s Suddenly Supernatural series (Little, Brown) is young Kat Roberts, whose mother is a spirit-sighting medium – and to her dismay, Kat, at the age of 13, finds that she can see ghosts too. In the first of the four-book series, Suddenly Supernatural: School Spirit (2008), Kat and friend Jac deal with a school haunting.  For ages 9-12.
 images-2 In Elizabeth Cody Kimmel’s ParaNorman (Little, Brown, 2013), Norman can see and talk to ghosts, both human and animal. In this, the first book of a series, he encounters a witch who, on the 300th anniversary of her death, is determined to destroy his small New England town. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-18 Mary Hahn Downing is a ghost story writer extraordinaire. Many satisfyingly spooky titles, among them Wait Till Helen Comes (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007), The Doll in the Garden (Clarion Books, 2007), The Old Willis Place (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007), The Ghost of Crutchfeld Hall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), and more. For ages 9-12.
 images-1 Orphaned Bee, the main character of Kimberly Newton Fusco’s Beholding Bee (Knopf, 2013) – mocked because of her diamond-shaped birthmark – helps run the hotdog stand in a 1940s traveling carnival, cared for only by her beloved Pauline. Forcibly separated from Pauline, Bee runs away and ends up living with Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Swift – a pair of feisty elderly ladies who, as it turns out, only Bee can see. With the help of this ghostly pair, Bee ultimately learns to cope with challenges and to value herself – and eventually even to rescue Pauline. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-19 In Eleanor Cameron’s The Court of the Stone Children (Puffin, 1990), Nina visits San Francisco’s French Museum and there, in a room from an early 19th-century chateau, meets the ghost of Dominique, whose father was executed in the French Revolution. She needs Nina’s help to prove his innocence. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-20 L.M. Boston’s The Children of Green Knowe (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002), originally published in 1954, is the first of a series set in the eerie old English mansion of Green Knowe, where young Tolly comes to live with Mrs. Oldknow, his great-grandmother, who tells wonderful stories of Green Knowe’s past.  Characters in this first book include Toby, Alexander, and Linnet – the ghosts of children who lived at Green Knowe in the 17th century – and Green Noah, an evil topiary tree powered by a gypsy curse. Five sequels, all wonderful. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-21 In Patricia Reilly Giff’s Gingersnap (Wendy Lamb Books, 2013), set near the end of World War II, Jayna has been left in the care of the landlady while big brother Rob – her only family – is in the navy. When Rob is declared missing in action when his destroyer goes down, Jayna sets off on her own for Brooklyn, hoping to find her grandmother at a bakery called the Gingersnap. She’s armed with an old blue recipe book, accompanied by her pet turtle, Theresa (in a cat carrier), and helped along the way by the voice of a mysterious ghost. (The book includes eight plot-relevant soup recipes.) A brave and heart-warming story for ages 9-12.
  For more soup resources, including soup stories, soup science, and many great versions of Stone Soup, see BEAUTIFUL SOUP.
 imgres-23 In John Bellairs’s The House With a Clock in its Walls (Puffin, 2012), originally published in 1973, orphan Lewis Barnavelt moves to Michigan to live with his Uncle Jonathan – who turns out to be a warlock; and next-door neighbor Florence Zimmerman is a witch. Jonathan’s house was once owned by the evil Isaac and Selena Izard, who hid within its walls a ticking clock capable of bringing about the end of the world. Jonathan and Florence are doing their best to find and disable the clock – a task that becomes more complicated when Lewis and a friend inadvertently raise Selena from the dead on Halloween. There are many more Gothic horror titles for kids by Bellairs, all spooky, addictive, and well done. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-24 In Richard Peck’s Ghosts I Have Been (Puffin, 2001), set in the early 20th century, the snarky and delightful Blossom Culp – who lives with her half-gypsy mother on the wrong side of the railroad tracks – suddenly develops Second Sight. Her first attempt at a séance brings her national notoriety, a friendship with the eccentric Miss Dabney, and a tragic visit to the doomed Titanic, where she is unable to change the course of history.  Blossom, believe me, is irresistible. She returns, still psychic, in The Ghost Belonged to Me and The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp. For ages 10 and up.
  images-3 In Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost – available in many editions and as a full text online – the American Hiram B. Otis purchases Canterville Chase, even though everyone tells him that the place is haunted. The obstreperous Otis twins nearly drive the resident Ghost to distraction, though the lovely Virginia, daughter of the family, finally does him a great service. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-25 A film version of The Canterville Ghost (1996) stars Patrick Stewart as Sir Simon de Canterville (the Ghost). Rated PG.
 imgres-26 In Claire Legrand’s The Year of Shadows (Simon & Schuster, 2013), Olivia’s mother has disappeared and her father’s symphony is going broke, so Olivia, her grandmother, and her father (Olivia calls him the Maestro) move into Emerson Hall, her father’s decrepit concert hall. There Olivia acquires a telepathic cat (Igor, named for Stravinsky) and meets four ghosts who haunt the hall – and who need her help. As Olivia, with the help of her friend Henry, tries to lay the ghosts to rest and save them from invasive malicious shades, she also struggles with family issues and her own unhappiness. A spooky, but ultimately positive, story for ages 10-13.
 imgres-27 In Chris Grabenstein’s The Crossroads (Random House, 2008), eleven-year-old Zack Jennings, his father, and his new stepmother move to Connecticut where their new house stands at a crossroad dominated by an immense tree – the site of a long-ago tragic accident where dozens of people died in an horrific collision. When lightning strikes the tree, the demonic spirit trapped inside it is released and is bent on murderous revenge. Luckily Zack has help from family, friends, and some kindly ghosts. For ages 10-13.
 imgres-28 In Holly Black’s Doll Bones (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2013), Zach, Poppy, and Alice end up going on a quest to deal with the demands of a ghost whose bones are encapsulated in a china doll. For ages 10 and up.
 images-4 Nobody (Bod) Owens, the main character of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, 2010) is raised in a graveyard by a varied population of ghosts (from a range of centuries) after his family is murdered by a mysterious man named Jack. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-29 Candace Fleming’s On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave (Schwartz & Wade, 2012) begins when young Mike Kowalski picks up a drenched young girl on the side of a country road in the middle of the night who begs for a ride home. She leaves her saddle shoes behind in his car, and when Mike tries to return them, he finds that the girl – Carol Anne – drowned sixty years ago. When he visits the graveyard, he finds himself surrounded by young ghosts from the 1860s on who insist on taking turns to tell the stories of their deaths. Nicely creepy for ages 12 and up.
 imgres-30 Chris Crutcher’s The Sledding Hill (Greenwillow Books, 2006) is narrated by the ghost of Billy Bartholomew, best friend of Eddie Profitt, who has stopped talking following the deaths of both Billy and his father. Eddie’s mother copes by joining the fundamentalist church of the Reverend Tarter, a teacher at the high school, who attempts to ban a book, Warren Peace, by (I wish the author hadn’t done this) a writer named Chris Crutcher. Eddie finally finds his voice again, defending the book. A lot of possibility for discussion here for ages 12 and up.
 images-5 In Kerstin Gier’s Ruby Red (Square Fish, 2012), young Gwyneth Shepherd discovers that she, and not as expected her sophisticated cousin Charlotte, has inherited the family time-travel gene. Gwyneth also has a special talent all her own: she can see ghosts. The first of a terrific trilogy, set in Britain. Subsequent titles are Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green. (These are good. Don’t be fooled by the covers, which make them look like bodice rippers.) For ages 12 and up.
 images-6 In Peter S. Beagle’s Tamsin (NAL, 2013), 13-year-old Jenny Gluckstein moves from New York to Stourhead Farm in Dorset, England with her mother, her new stepfather, and his sons. There she meets to ghost of Tamsin who – along with her cat – has haunted the farm for 300 years, trapped there by a trauma that she can’t bring herself to remember. Wonderful slices of English history and folklore. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-31 In Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – originally published in 1820 and now available in many editions – the most famous specter in the little Dutch town of Sleepy Hollow is the Headless Horseman, said to be the ghost of a Hessian soldier who had his head shot off in the Revolutionary War.  The plot involves the competition of gawky schoolmaster Ichabod Crane and popular local boy Brom Bones for the hand of lovely Katrina Van Tassel, and a trick on horseback with a pumpkin. The full text of the story is online here.
  A film version of the story, Sleepy Hollow, with Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane, is rated R. NOT for little guys.
 images-7 In Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys (Scholastic, 2013), teenaged Blue and her psychic mother wait at the churchyard each St. Mark’s Eve to see the spirits of those who will die within the next year. This particular spring Blue sees the shade of Gansey, one of the privileged Raven Boys from Aglionby Academy. Several sequels. For ages 13 and up.
 imgres-32 Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black (Vintage, 2012) is a creepy and classic ghost story, set in a small English town at the fog-ridden Eel Marsh House. Eerie and psychologically compelling, Unlike the awful movie. For older teenagers and adults.
 imgres-33 Shirley Jackson is brilliant. In The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics, 2006), originally published in 1959, main character Eleanor Vance – based on a paranormal event in her childhood – is invited to participate in an investigation of supernatural happenings at the chillingly disturbing Hill House. Subtle, fascinating, and psychologically twisty. For older teenagers and adults.
 imgres-35 In Henry James’s classic ghost story novella, The Turn of the Screw – available in many editions – a horrified governess discovers that she’s not just dealing with her young charges, but with ghosts. For teenagers and adults.
  The full text of The Turn of the Screw is available online from Project Gutenberg.
  The Turn of the Screw (1999) is a British made-for-TV version, which aired on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre.
 images-8 Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown, 2002) is a painful story told entirely from the point of view of a ghost: 14-year-old Susie Salmon, murdered by a neighborhood serial killer, who now watches from the afterlife the experiences of family, friends, and her killer. For older teenagers and adults.
  The film version of The Lovely Bones is rated PG-13.

GHOST ARTS, CRAFTS, AND ACTIVITIES (and Cupcakes)

 spirit-jugs-halloween-craft-photo-420-FF1007TREATA13 From Spoonful, Spirit Jugs has instructions for making ghostly lanterns from plastic milk bottles.
 swreath From DLTK, Ghastly Ghost Crafts has printable decorate-a-ghost sheets, instructions for making a footprint ghost, a ghost-and-pumpkin wreath, a ghost paper chain, and more.
Among the Activities for Halloween at Enchanted Learning are making a balloon ghost and a pop-up ghost card.
Learn how to make paper Ghost Streamers with this You Tube video.
 ghost smores Five Spooky S’mores Recipes. You’ll need ghost-shaped Peeps.
 paper-ghosts From Artists Helping Children, Ghost and Ghoul Crafts for Kids has instructions for many, among them a ghost flashlight cover, paper spiral ghosts, floating glow-in-the-dark ghosts, and squash ghosts.
 a98930_1001_newghosts_vert From Martha Stewart, see these step-by-step instructions for making spooky Floating Ghosts. (Or how about some Pasta Skeletons?)
Activity Village’s list of Ghost Crafts includes a felt ghost toy, ghost puppets, and a recipe for ghost brownies.
 Halloween_Ghost_Meringue_Cookies-2 Edible Ghost Craft Ideas lists recipes for dozens, among them meringue ghost cookies, haunted house sandwiches, and glow-in-the-dark ghost cupcakes.
From Primary Games, in Ghost Hunt kids click on features of a haunted house scene to find the ghost.

GHOSTS IN THE MOVIES

 images-9 Casper the Friendly Ghost was created as a cartoon character in the 1930s; he’s also the star of the movie Casper (1995), in which an “after-life therapist” and his daughter move into a haunted mansion. There they meet the friendly Casper and his three very unfriendly uncles. Rated PG.
 images-10 In The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), a young widow goes to live in Gull Cottage on the British seacoast, where she meets the ghost of its former owner, Captain Daniel Gregg – and the unlikely pair fall in love. With Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison.
 images-11 In Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice (1988), ghosts Adam and Barbara are doing their best to evict obnoxious human owners from their home. They get no help from the Handbook for the Recently Deceased or the bureaucrats who dominate the afterlife, and so end up calling upon Beetlejuice, a crazy and unreliable ghoul in a striped suit. With Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, and (as Beetlejuice) Michael Keaton. Rated PG.
 imgres-36 In Ghostbusters (1984), three unemployed parapsychology professors start a ghost-removal service. All goes well until a ghostly voice in a client’s refrigerator proves to involve a portal to another world and Gozer, an ancient Sumerian god of destruction. With Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Rated PG.
 images-12 In Ghost Dad (1990), Elliot Hopper, a widower and the father of three, is killed in a car crash by a maniacal taxi driver, but – with the help of a paranormal researcher – manages to come back as a ghost to try to provide for his kids. Bill Cosby plays the ghostly dad. Rated PG.
 images-13 In Field of Dreams (1989), Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella – urged on by a mysterious voice (“If you build it, he will come”) – builds a baseball diamond in his field and finds it visited by the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Chicago White Sox players who were banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World Series. With Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Burt Lancaster, and James Earl Jones. A real heart-warmer. Rated PG.
 imgres-37 In Blithe Spirit (1945), the film adaptation of the witty play by Noel Coward, Charles Condamine and his second wife, Ruth, are plagued by the ghost of his first wife, Elvira, who wants Charles back.
 images-14 In Topper (1937), fun-loving (and reckless-driving) Marion and George Kirby die in a car crash and end up haunting their somewhat stuffy friend, bank president Cosmo Topper. With Cary Grant and Constance Bennett as ghosts.
 images-15 In Disney’s The Watcher in the Woods, an American family moves into a house in rural England where the two daughters see strange lights in the woods and begin to see and hear a teenager named Karen, who vanished 30 years before. The explanation, as it turns out (spoiler!) is an alien and another dimension, not ghosts. But it feels like ghosts. Rated PG.
 imgres-38 In High Spirits (1988), Peter Plunkett’s Irish castle is in deep financial trouble, so he decides to fake a haunting to whip up interest from American tourists. Which works – and then real ghosts move in. With Peter O’Toole as Plunkett. Rated PG-13.
 images-16 The swashbuckling Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) features the ghostly pirate ship, the Black Pearl, and a lot of cursed undead pirates. With Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley. Rated PG-13.
 images-17 In Ghost (1990), Sam is murdered in a mugging but stays behind as a ghost, trying to protect his girlfriend, Molly, from danger. Molly can’t see him; he can only communicate with her through a startled psychic who had never believed her powers were real. With Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopie Goldberg. Rated PG-13.
 imgres-39 Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Sixth Sense centers around a young boy who can see and talk to ghosts who don’t realize that they’re dead. Rated PG-13.
 images-18 In The Others (2001), Grace Stewart lives in a mansion on the island of Jersey with her two oddly photosensitive children while waiting for her husband to return home from World War II. Soon strange happenings lead Grace to believe that the house is haunted – which it is, but not in the way that you expect. With Nicole Kidman. Rated PG-13.
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