Hardly Haunted – written and illustrated by Jessie Sima

Hardly Haunted – written and illustrated by Jessie Sima. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. 978153444170

Rating: 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format:  Hardcover

Genre:  Picture book

What did you like about the book?   An old house, filled with cobwebs, bats and dust, worries that it might be haunted.  Because no one would want to live in a haunted house, the house tries very hard to not be spooky.  But no matter how hard she tries, spooky sounds fill the air: doors creaking, stairs squeaking, and pipes rattling. The house stays very still and quiet and this seems to work until the wind rustles and the house begins to groan and howl.  The house realizes “She liked being noisy. Maybe she liked being haunted.”  In the end, she embraces her spookiness and a family of ghosts moves in: “And that house on the hill was happy…to be haunted!”  The illustrations, rendered in Photoshop in hues of purple, green and blue perfectly complement the story.  Readers will love the wide-eyed little black cat that appears on each double page spread.  The spooky sounds appear in elongated gold-hued text that swirls through the illustrations.  The anthropomorphic house is full of expression and character.  This is a perfect choice for a not-too-scary Halloween story time.  

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Add this to Halloween-themed story times for some not-too-spooky thrills.  Children will love participating by making the house’s spooky sounds.  Pair it with: Winnie the Witch by Valerie Thomas and Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara.

Who should buy this book?  Elementary and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review:   August 6, 2021        

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