Rules for Ghosting, by A. J. Paquette

Rules for Ghosting, by A.J. Paquette (Bloomsbury, July, 2013) is an utterly just fine book to give to a seven to ten year-old who likes ghosts and big old houses.

Oliver and his family have moved to a big old house with a spooky reputation; they'll live there for six months as caretakers while its fixed up for sale (while, the owner hopes, adding a gloss of happy family normalcy to its reputation).   Dahlia has lived in this same house since she was a girl around Oliver's age (11 ish), although for most of the time she's been dead.  And it's been lonely for Dahlia--the house has been empty since her mother left for a nursing home, and she herself can't go anywhere.  

The same day that Oliver's family arrives, so does Mrs. Tibbs, a friendly official ghost come to liberate Dahlia, and teach her the rules of ghosting that will help her move on.    But hard on Mrs. Tibbs' heels comes a ghost-hunter, passing himself off as a repair man.  When his ghost capturing mechanism actually works on Mrs. Tibbs, Dahlia must manifest herself to Oliver and his siblings, working with them foil the ghost hunter's unpleasant plans...while still trying to find out what is anchoring her own ghost to the old house.

Told in chapters alternating between Oliver and Dahlia, it's full of busy ghostly old house fixing-up shenanigans, and rather fun, full of nicely created little descriptive elements that add interest.  Though it's not one I'd press on grown-ups, the intended audience should enjoy it lots.  

Pause while I consider if the intended audience skews toward one gender or another.... My heart says it is more a girl book, perhaps because I myself (a girl) would have enjoyed it when I was seven, and perhaps because the book starts with Dahlia making a garden of ghost flowers, which stereotypically and superficially feels  more like a "girl" thing.  However, a rational argument can also be made that there is boy appeal- Oliver is, after all, a boy, and the whole mechanics and technology of ghost hunting have (also stereotypically and superficially) boy appeal.    

Final answer: not a book with a strong tilt toward any particular gender.  

Note on age, which is also hard because 7-10 year olds vary so much in their expectations--the plot is complex enough for the higher end, but not to intense for the younger end.  That being said, I think this is an especially good one for the avid 7 year old devourer of books.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher


  1. It has a cute cover. Maybe too cute for boys?

  2. This sounds like a fun story. It sounds like something boys as well as girls would like.

  3. oooh I just saw that Ann published this. I'm excited for my 7 yr old girl to read. She loves these types of stories but doesn't want it too scary.

  4. Good. I can recommend this to some of my students.

  5. I had the same reaction as Liviania to the cover. Purple doesn't go over well with the 7-10 year old boys of my acquaintance. Ah well.

  6. viz the cover--I agree that it skews more toward girls...I showed it to my 10 year old boy, and he had no interest.


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