Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Hungry Ghost of Rue Orleans

The Hungry Ghost of Rue Orleans. Mary Quattlebaum. Illustrated by Patricia Castelao. 2011. Random House. 32 pages.

Fred lived alone at 28 Rue Orleans. Once the house had been a jazzy-snazzy, sweet-and-spicy spot, but now? The floors squeaked, the roof leaked, and dust coated the chairs. But Fred liked his rickety house. All night he moaned and clicked his fingers and tended his tiny cactus. If he got hungry, he gobbled some air. The perfect life for a ghost.

Books--even picture books--can surprise you. I didn't think I'd like this one--at all. And I'm not saying that I love it, but when you begin a book with big, big doubts, thinking that it most probably won't be for you, when that turns out not to be the case, well, you can't help getting a little excited about it! (The opposite of how you feel when you expect to love, love, love a book and end up being frustrated, disappointed, etc.)

Anyway, this picture book is about what happens when an old house in New Orleans is bought and turned into a restaurant. Fred is used to haunting a house--a wonderfully dusty, creaky house. But Fred is NOT happy about haunting a busy, noisy restaurant! And haunts it he does. But while he intended--perhaps--to scare the guests away, he ends up being the unique charm of the place. People see him as a little something extra that makes this restaurant worth eating at. How does Fred feel about all this?! Well, his mind might change once he gets a taste of powdered "ghost" puffs!

What I liked about this one was the language. With phrases like "munchers and clankers" to describe the customers, it had me at hello. I just thought the language, the style, was lovely. I still don't necessarily "like" ghost stories. But this one, well, it worked for me.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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