________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 41 . . . . June 24, 2011


Ghost Messages.

Jacqueline Guest.
Regina, SK: Coteau Books, 2011.
184 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 978-1-55050-458-3.

Subject Heading:
Great Eastern (Steamship)-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Heidi Henkenhaf.

**** /4



"Help! Down here on the paddlewheel!" she yelled, then listened intently, hopelessly, for an answering cry. But all she heard was the storm's unceasing wail. To Ailish's desperate ears, it sounded like Davy's voice calling out, a lamentation by her graveside. "Please save me!" she shouted back into the dark face of the storm, knowing there was no one there.

The award-winning author Jacqueline Guest has written another captivating book, Ghost Messages, an historical fiction story about the laying of the transatlantic telegraph cable from Ireland to Newfoundland in 1865. Guest adds to the interest of this historical milestone by adding a subplot about Ailish O'Connor, a stowaway aboard the Great Eastern, and then Guest adds an extra twist of the supernatural kind.

      Ailish O'Connor and her father provide for themselves by offering Ailish's fortunetelling abilities to customers. Her supernatural sense allows her to determine the character of others, and she attempts to warn her father that he is not keeping good company. When Ailish O'Connor's family treasure is stolen, she follows the thief aboard the Great Eastern, a gigantic ship bound for Newfoundland. Of course, her intent was to get off the ship before it left Ireland, but, due to circumstances beyond Ailish's control, she becomes trapped. Ailish then has to blend into an all male working crew, retrieve her family treasure from the thief and return home to Ireland safely. With help from her new friends and the spirit world, it all becomes even more complicated and the adventures continue to accumulate.

      Ghost Messages is an engaging and fast-paced book that provides enough adventure and suspense to keep readers wanting to read on. Through the adventures of the brave female protagonist, Ailish O'Connor, Jacqueline Guest tells the story of the famous ship, the Great Eastern, and reveals the mission of connecting Britain and Canada by laying the first undersea telegraph cable along the Atlantic Ocean floor. It was a different time in history, but today's readers will relate to the need to be "connected," and the telegraph cable was the technology that started it all.

Highly Recommended.

Heidi Henkenhaf is an MLIS candidate at the University of British Columbia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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