HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Ghost in the Picture
Author: Meg Schneider
Publisher: Apple Paperbacks, 1988
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 11 and up
Rating: **** 4 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Schneider, Meg. The Ghost in the Picture (Published in 1988 by Apple Paperbacks, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 730 Broadway, New York City, NY 10003). Twelve year old Ben Crisp, who lives with his father, mother, and eight year old sister Stephie in Windsor, VT, is a budding photographer. Ben desperately wants to win a local photography contest sponsored by Green State Bank. He also needs some photographs for a school project on progress. It just so happens that a new girl his age named Lily Tompson and her family have moved into the old Tompson place on the corner in their neighborhood and are renovating it. Mr. Tompson wants before and after pictures. So even though Ben thinks that Lily, an expert ice skater who is coaching their losing hockey team, is odd and old-fashioned, while she finds Ben self-absorbed and rude, he feels that pictures of the old house might be a stepping stone to his success.
In fact, Ben finds himself compelled to photograph Lily, almost against his will, but all his efforts to win the photography contest are sabotaged by a flaw in the pictures, always a misty something–or someone–in the photos with her that keeps getting into the scene and seems to be reaching out toward him. Everyone else thinks that it’s caused by dust on the camera lens or a trick of light or even Lily’s breath, but it has the shape of a man, and when Stephie sees it she believes that it’s a ghost. Despite his initial skepticism, Ben gradually has to admit that it might be a ghost, and his fear grows. Is it really a ghost? If so, what does it want from Ben? And should he tell anyone else about what is going on?
This book, of course, is obviously a ghost story, and those who object to ghost stories will want to avoid it. But those who like a good ghost story should enjoy The Ghost in the Picture. There is no bad language or anything else inappropriate. The plot does not have too much tension, and the ghost parts are not particularly scary. Ben finds himself setting aside his own ambition in order to help someone else. School Library Journal noted that “The climax brings Ben and his sister closer together, as well as Ben and Lily.” Also the background details of photography, ice skating, and ice hockey add interesting depth to the story.