CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 17 . . . . April 25, 2003
TJ and the Haunted House is an “Orca Young Reader” novel written by prolific children's author Hazel Hutchins. While the novel picks up where TJ and the Cats left off, it could easily stand alone. With limited vocabulary, a plot driven story and short chapters, TJ and the Haunted House is a perfect read for those fairly new to chapter books.
In the first book, TJ catsits for his grandma with calamitous results. In this book, he is dealing with being the new owner of two rowdy kittens, T-Rex and Alaska. As well, his class decides to turn TJ's house into a haunted house as a fund-raiser. They plan vats full of peeled grapes to imitate eyeballs and suspended sheets. Only, it's looking more and more like TJ's house may actually be haunted. Grandma remembers her mother talking of a mysterious sighting of an old prospector who lived in what is now the spare room in TJ's house. Thinking about a real-live ghost is more than TJ wants to do, but his friend Seymour is delighted and runs with it -- taking books out of the library to learn more about ghosts. To top it all off, TJ's dad is starting to hint that he'd like TJ to take over the family hardware store.
As with the first book, the resolution is predictable but satisfying. The school fund-raiser is a huge success, and TJ resolves the mystery of the prospector. TJ is very likable, displaying much humour and a healthy skepticism of the world and especially adults around him in a way that should engage most seven-year-old readers.
A terrific addition to any home or school library. The copyright page notes that a free teachers guide is available for classroom use while a bibliography of further ghost-related reference books ("titles from Seymour's bag of books") is included in the back of the book.
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