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Wait Till Helen Comes Home

by Mary Downing Hahn

Book list Gr. 5-6. A ghost story extraordinaire is one way to bring on the chills and tingles of Halloween. Another choice, more closely tied to the holiday, is Ray Bradbury's Halloween Tree, where some children travel through time to learn the origins of the festivities.

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Book list Gr. 5-7. Molly and Michael dislike their new stepsister but realize they must try to save her when a ghost beckons the child to certain doom.

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Book list Gr. 5-7. A ghost story par excellence in which a difficult seven-year-old is drawn into a frightening relationship with the ghost of a dead child. (S 1 86)

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 4-7 Ghost story fans have a spooky treat in store with Hahn's eerie new novel. Molly, the 12-year-old narrator, and her brother Michael dislike their bratty 5-year-old stepsister Heather and resent the family move to an isolated converted church in the country. The adjourning graveyard frightens Molly, but Heather seems drawn to it. Molly discovers that the ghost of a child (Helen) who died in a fire a century ago wants to lure Heather to her doom. Molly determines to save her stepsister. In so doing, she learns that Heather's strange behavior stems from her feelings of guilt at having accidentally caused her mother's death by playing near a stove and starting a fire. Eventually, Molly wrests Heather from Helen's arms as the ghost attempts to drown them. The girls discover the skeletons of Helen's parents, and their burial finally puts to rest Helen's spirit. This is a powerful, convincing, and frightening tale. The details of everyday life quickly give way to terror. The pace never slackens. Characterization is strong, and descriptive passages set a mood of suspense. There should be a heavy demand from readers who are not ``faint at heart.'' Judy Greenfield, Rye Free Reading Room, N.Y.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Gr. 5-7. Hahn gives readers a ghost story par excellence. Molly and Michael's newly blended family isn't working very well. Their seven-year-old stepsister, Heather, hates sharing her father, but he, as well as Molly and Michael's mother, keeps reminding them to be nice to the odd child. Heather's mother died in a mysterious fire when the girl was three, and she has never really gotten over it. Things take a turn for the worse when the family moves to a renovated church far out in the country. Heather's lying, unpleasantness, and attempts at dissension reach new heights. Then, she finds a tomb in the church graveyard with her initials H.E.H. on it. Before long Heather is drawn into a frightening relationship with Helen, the ghost of a dead child whose mother also died in a fire. Hahn builds her plot in the best horror story tradition. Her vivid descriptions add to the creepiness, and more than once readers may find themselves putting down the book and looking over their shoulders; the malevolence is that palpable. Intertwined with the ghost story is the question of Molly's moral imperative to save a child she truly dislikes. Though the emotional turnaround may be a bit quick for some, this still scores as a first-rate thriller. IC. Ghosts Fiction / Stepchildren Fiction [CIP] 86-2648

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.


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