CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 13. . . .November 26, 2010
Ghost Trackers: The Unreal World of Ghosts, Ghost-Hunting, and the Paranormal.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2010.
75 pp., pbk., $16.99.
Grade 5-8 / Ages 10-13.
Review by Nicole Dalmer.
Probably the most frequent of all apparitions, residual ghosts seem to be tied to specific places, to replaying the same actions over and over again. The sound of children playing, a ghostly figure that wanders a house checking each room as it goes, a spirit that watches from a high window – these kinds of reports of residual ghosts are common.
Many researchers believe that seeing a residual ghost is really like watching a movie play out in real life. The theory is that traumatic events – like a murder or accidental death – trigger strong emotional responses and can create a lot of energy. This energy leaves an imprint on the location where the event happened. What you see, then, is less likely to be the spirit of a dead person; it’s more a visible memory of them.
No one has been able to prove this theory. But it’s interesting that most residual ghosts do appear at the site of some tragic event.
Written by Chris Gudgeon, the creator and producer of the Ghost Trackers television series, this book of the same title draws much of its inspiration from its televised relative. Though the read is fast-paced and the overall look is quite slick, the writing quality and the intermittent reminders of the television tie-in create a less than satisfactory read.
Though the title mentions only ghosts, the book takes quite a comprehensive approach in covering all aspects of paranormal elements throughout its five chapters: ghouls, mediums, orbs, ectoplasms, spirits and poltergeists are only a sampling of subject matter covered. Elaborate historical events and detailed case studies related to each paranormal phenomenon establish the context and allow younger readers to latch on to a more concrete occurrence (particularly useful, given the topic). In addition, later chapters discuss the profession of ghost hunting, and what technical tools and equipment would be most effectively used, depending on what ‘presence’ may be present. Tips and rules are also given to aid budding ghost hunters as they start off on their hunt.
The writing and presentation of this book seem to be centered on maintaining constant engagement with the reader. This is accomplished through a variety of means including quizzes, small factoid boxes interspersed throughout, an abundance of colourful illustrations, variations in fonts and links to YouTube videos and other websites. While I appreciate that this variety may be useful for a particularly reluctant reader, at times I felt that this barrage of variety took away from the active role a reader can create for him or herself, and it felt to a certain extent, gimmicky.
I had a couple of concerns while reading through Ghost Trackers: in the chapter ‘science versus fiction’, the terms ‘scientists’ and ‘researchers’ are haphazardly grouped together without distinction. These blanket terms made me question the authority and the source of the statements made. Additionally, I was slightly concerned with one questionnaire in particular, ‘Is My House Haunted?’ as the questions posed could definitely frighten certain readers.
Overall, Gudgeon’s Ghost Trackers is an entertaining read. The reported stories and the historical elements are written in such a way so as to captivate readers – who doesn’t enjoy a good ghost story from time to time? That being said, the manner in which the content is presented in combination with the television tie-in leads me to recommend that those wanting to learn more about the world of the paranormal may be well advised to look elsewhere.
Recommended with reservations.
Nicole Dalmer is a first-year student in the MLIS program at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, AB.
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