From Publishers Weekly
Wright's (Haunted Summer) lackluster ghost story about a haunted school comes off as more silly than eerie. New student Matt Barber quickly loses credibility with his peers when he tries to impress them with tall tales about his mother, who "does stunts" in the movies, and his "treasure hunter" father. Tagged as a liar, the fourth-grader has trouble convincing anyone he has seen a phantom teacher roaming the halls outside classroom 11. But the ghost?schoolmarm Whipple who "died at her desk, correcting papers"?is real, and she vows to haunt Matt until he improves his spelling. As unconvincing as the novel's strained plot is its cast of two-dimensional characters: a principal who shares Matt's spelling problem; a teacher who calls the Barber home regularly to report Matt's shortcomings; and an irritating apparition, who badgers students with the motto: "Try Hard. Then Try Harder." Fans of spooky school stories will find few thrills here. Ages 7-9.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 2^-4. In the author's latest page-turner, Matt Barber, the new kid in school, is having trouble making friends. When he accepts a dare to find out if a ghost exists in school, he has no idea that his classmates have played a trick on him by leaving gerbils in the basement where he is to sleep. When Matt declares he has seen a real apparition, the spirit of an old school teacher (who, of course, appears only to him), he finds himself more isolated from the kids than he was before. The ghost eventually comes to the rescue by convincing Matt to try harder to win friends, and as he improves his attitude and curbs his temper, the ghost reveals herself to his classmates and wins him the respect he deserves. Contrivances aside, Wright offers another intriguing variation on the classic ghost narrative, one that focuses on emotions and maturity instead of fear. Matt's honest sharing of his feelings of loneliness will encourage countless young readers. Shelley Townsend-Hudson