Kathryn's Reviews > Ghosts in the House!

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
446464
's review
Oct 02, 09

bookshelves: childrens-picture-books, autumn-halloween-thanksgiving
Read in October, 2009

4.0 ILLUSTRATIONS
1.0 MESSAGE

I was captivated by the cover art at a bookstore Halloween book display and found a copy at my library. I am glad I didn't buy it on impulse as it's not the sort of story I'd want to read over and over again, though the illustrations ARE wonderful!

I am afraid I must join the minority of reviewers here who found the storyline troubling. Little Witch moves to a new house, but the only problem is, it is full of ghosts. So, she uses her clever, witching skills to find a way to solve this little problem. She catches all the ghosts, puts them in the wash, and when the "sheets" come out (still with the little ghost faces), she uses them for curtains and tablecloths and bed sheets. I think this is meant to showcase her ingenuity--a good trait to encourage in kids. BUT...

The story might not be too problematic in and of itself, but I found it pretty shocking in conjunction with the illustrations! (And since Kohara is author and illustrator, I can assume there was no disconnect between author's intent and the illustrations!) The ghosts are NOT scary or evil or menacing-looking! In fact, they are very cute and most of them are smiling, almost as if inviting the Little Witch into "their" house. The Little Witch is thus not some sort of heroine, rather, she comes across almost as a supremacist, disposing of creatures she doesn't like simply because they are in her way! Of course, this is my very grown-up interpretation of the story, but I am not sure her methods are even appropriate for a child's viewpoint. Rather than trying to talk to "the other" this books shows we should simply make them conform to our wishes. Not the best way to make friends in our increasingly diverse world :-(

I'm afraid I cannot give this book a high rating given my strong negative reaction to the message. However, I will not deny that Kohara is a talented artist and I may look for future stories in the hopes they will not have such a troubling impression on me.

9 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Ghosts in the House!.
sign in »

Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

dateDown_arrow    newest »

Kathryn Ye-ah... Maybe I was just in a weird mood, but I do see that others had the same impression, so...?


message 2: by Ann (new)

Ann Oh what!? She murders the ghosts!!?!??! I mean, I guess they are already dead... but...


Kathryn Um, well, unless they go on "living" happily as tablecloths and curtains, which I doubt!


message 4: by Ann (new)

Ann Haha! Let's just say the do, shall we? ;>


Heather I loved it. At the beginning the cat is white and the girl is just a girl.... they put on costumes. They are not truly witch and black cat. I saw this as a story about a little girl not needing to be afraid of moving to a new home. She finds a fun, creative way to make her new house a home... and at the end of the day sleeps soundly. Supremacist?? Wow... pretty sure that's not what the author intended for this super cute book.


Kathryn Great to get another interpretation of this story, Heather! Thanks for sharing.


Kathryn Chandra wrote: "I'm sure Robert Munsch didn't mean to write a story about a creepy stalker mom when he wrote Love You Forever, but that's what I took away from it ;-) "

Haha! Yes, as you say, its so easy to bring our own interpretations to things!

I certainly did not mean to imply Kohara is a supremacist, but rather that the girl's actions could be interpreted as such and that I thought there were healthier ways for her to go about dealing with the ghost problem. But, I really enjoy hearing other people's perspectives on the book because I LOVE the illustrations and really wanted to like the book itself! Maybe I'll give it another try sometime and see if my impression changes :-)


message 8: by Guenevyre (new)

Guenevyre Kathryn,
You really need to get a life. You are reading WAY too much into this...are you from the world of academia? Perhaps.
My 3 year old love this book. It is for CHILDREN and not for some post-grad thesis. Please.


message 9: by Guenevyre (new)

Guenevyre Oh puh-leeze!


message 10: by Ann (new)

Ann Guenevyre wrote: "Kathryn,
You really need to get a life. You are reading WAY too much into this...are you from the world of academia? Perhaps.
My 3 year old love this book. It is for CHILDREN and not for some ..."


Guenevyre, I think it would be fine to state your own opinion, without attacking the validity of another person's opinion.


message 11: by Guenevyre (new)

Guenevyre Oh, Ann, you are so right! Except that her opinion is not valid...


message 12: by Ann (new)

Ann Guenevyre wrote: "Oh, Ann, you are so right! Except that her opinion is not valid..."

I think it is best in these times simply to agree to disagree.


message 13: by Kathryn (last edited Oct 21, 2011 10:17AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kathryn Abigail wrote: "But I hope you will not be put off giving your honest and always thoughtful perspective on the children's books you read, by hectoring comments left by strangers.

I was reluctant to comment back since I felt, based on her comments above, that Guenevyre simply wished to be offended/upset about my review, not engage in any sort of thoughtful conversation about it.

However, I really must thank Abigail for her most thoughtful and supportive post back (and to Chandra and Ann, too!) and to say that I most certainly will continue on sharing my honest reviews. I do feel a bit dismayed when people attack a review, especially when they know nothing about the person writing the review and the reasons for which the reviewer may feel feel a certain way about his/her interpretation. Indeed, my reviews are merely that; my own opinion. I certainly did not attack any of the many reviewers who did find this title enjoyable and am glad their interpretation allowed this book to be a positive one for their children--but some of my own personal experiences and education led me to interpret this story in a certain way and, as the story's message (as I saw it) did disturb me, I felt it my obligation to point that out in my review. Nor was I the only one to feel this way. But I also read reviews of others who did appreciate the book and I was glad for their perspective. I think that seeing multiple perspectives in reviews is helpful to parents and educators in trying to decide what might be suitable for their children.

And, to answer your question, Gunevyre, yes I am from the world of academia and proud of it. I am used to being able to voice my viewpoints amongst other thoughtful people who may not agree with me but who find the process of discussion (and even disagreement) intellectually stimulating and perhaps even enlightening. I am glad that, most of the time, my experiences with members here on GoodReads also reflect that openness and respect.


message 14: by Kim (new)

Kim An excellent and thoughtful review, Kathryn, as always. As my children are now adults, it's been a while since I've had a practical reason to take an interest in children's literature. However, I love reading your reviews and Abigail's reviews and other honest and thought-provoking reviews on GoodReads which keep me in touch with that world.

I completely agree with Abigail's comments and those of Ann and Chandra. There is never any situation in which disagreement with a review should prompt an attack on the reviewer. I know you will continue to call books as you see them. That's exactly what is needed on this site. As Abigail said, keep up the good work!


message 15: by Kathryn (last edited Oct 24, 2011 08:38AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kathryn Kim wrote: "An excellent and thoughtful review, Kathryn, as always. As my children are now adults, it's been a while since I've had a practical reason to take an interest in children's literature. However, I l..."

Thank you so much for the support and thoughtful comments, Kim! :-)


Elisabeth Hurley I can absolutely see how you got this reading of the book. I guess what saves it for me is that the ghosts are all smiling and seemingly happy about the uses they've been put to. But still, it's troubling that she enslaved the nice ghosts to begin with.


Elisabeth Hurley I also like how she's totally empowered and takes care of the haunting problem herself (and not by running away). She's no victim.


Kathryn Elisabeth wrote: "I also like how she's totally empowered and takes care of the haunting problem herself (and not by running away). She's no victim."

Yes, that is a good point.

I didn't think about the ghosts still being happy and smiling in their new uses. I like that interpretation :-) Thanks for sharing.


message 19: by Gundula (new)

Gundula Guenevyre wrote: "Oh, Ann, you are so right! Except that her opinion is not valid..."

Are you that unsure of yourself that you must attack and bash ... (you act like a little dictator).


back to top