Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Cornelia Funke
Translator: Oliver Latsch
Illustrator: Andrea Offermann
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
When John Whitcroft is sent off to boarding school, he’s not expecting to have to confront ghosts that are determined to make him pay for the mistakes of his ancestors. However, no one else can see the ghosts that are threatening him except for the quirky girl, Ella. John and Ella team up to try to stop the ghosts from making John’s life miserable. They recruit the help of a ghostly knight, Sir Longspee, who can protect John, but wants a favor in exchange. John and Ella agree to help the knight, answering both questions about John’s family history and why Sir Longspee spends his time as a ghost helping people.
Although there are lots of ghosts and a general sense of danger, there are multiple reassurances that the ghosts cannot touch them, helping the story get rid of any possible scariness. The story is also told from John’s adult perspective, again reassuring young readers that all will be well for the main characters in the end but also removes any tension. These things make it an unusual ghost story with no major stakes, but readers who are interested in boarding school stories without too much scariness will appreciate it.