The Ghost of Thomas Kempe: Complete & Unabridged
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About the Author
Penelope Lively was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1933 and brought up there. She came to England in 1945, went to school in Sussex, and read Modern History at St Ann's College, Oxford. Her many books written for children include Astercote (1970), The Whispering Knights (1971), The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (1973), which won the Carnegie Medal, and A Stitch in Time (1976), which won the Whitbread Children's Book Award. Two of her novels written for adults have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction, and she won it in 1987 with Moon Tiger. More recent novels include The Photograph (2003) and Making it Up (2005). She has also written two volumes of autobiography and many short stories. Penelope Lively contributes regularly to a number of national daily newspapers and literary and educational journals. She has written radio and television scripts and was presenter for a BBC Radio 4 programme on children's literature. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a member of PEN and a former Chairman of The Society of Authors. She was awarded an OBE in 1989 and a CBE in 2001. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
A drawback to children's literature, from whence much of my ghost fare must be quenched, is that authors sometimes dwell on family bickering. I for one have no taste to read that. I was relieved <b>Penelope Lively</b> did not persist in this and that focus was mustered on her tale's task. I understand it suited these circumstances to illustrate that <i>James</i>, by design or by accident, had borne responsibility for a few gaffes and that his word was not sacrosanct automatically. When <i>Thomas</i> manifests, first subtly in <i>James'</i> room, than by attempts to force him into servitude; boldly denouncing the entity to his parents isn't feasible. I disagreed with this because much of the pestering was demonstrable. However his Father is presented as the worst kind of closed-minded clod.
Something else that rang falsely is the comment that workmen threw out historic papers from the house. I can think of no hired crew who would be granted this liberty, none who would undervalue epistolary artifacts, nor any occupants whose intrigue wouldn't be peaked. Their resurrection from a trash heap was a rub. However the warmth of the story spiked thereafter. A diary acquaints <i>James</i> with a darling Aunt and visiting nephew, who experienced <i>Thomas</i> long before; except she believed him implicitly. A pleasing twist is their neighbour. She seemed ordained for dislike but helpfully clued <i>James</i> into mysticism.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
After moving into an old house, James discovers that he is sharing a room with a literate poltergeist,Thomas Kempe, who resorts to banging doors and hiding glasses for attention. Of course, it is James who gets blamed and whose allowance has to pay for damages. Things take a turn for the worse for James when Kempe, a sorcerer, leaves notes all over the place offering his magicks and accusing people of witchery. Can he successfully exorcise Thomas so that he can finally eat dessert and not have to be sent to his room all the time?
Penelope Lively takes us to a time in our lives when the world was bright and wide; when every nook, cranny and hole can yield buried treasure and unfettered possibilities. Through James we remember climbing trees, running through grass, cartwheeling, and of course, telling ghost stories among friends. We also remember times when we couldn't ask adults for help because they wouldn't believe us and sadly, neither did our bestfriends.
This is the perfect reading material for children who will certainly know what it's like to be James and for adults who want to be like James again - at least for a short time.
Time has moved inexorably on, and in some ways the 1970s England of James and Simon is as distant to us now as the world of the 17th century sorcerer Thomas Kempe. Although James does have some contact with Kempe's returned spirit, the real connections he makes in the story are to people from the more recent past: a boy named Arnold who once lived in his own house long ago, and the family's elderly neighbour Mrs. Verity. These relationships are at least as wonderful and unexpected as the ghost of a Renaissance-era enchanter. This is a great book to introduce kids to history, because I've met so many researchers and writers who describe forming very similar relationships in their imaginations, with people who are long gone. As the years pass, I'm understanding how lucky I was to be able to meet people who were a living bridge to the past, like Mrs. Verity -- born in years starting with "18", or who survived the Blitz or fought in the First and Second World Wars. Later this century that will seem unbelievable ... and I'll be in a similar position to James, trying to describe these things to my politely-skeptical family.
There isn't as much action in this book as Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, so it's more of a quiet thought-provoking read than an exciting page-turner -- but I wouldn't be surprised if some of the younger readers find themselves revisiting this story in a few decades, and having a new appreciation for it. Grownups should also read this book, just so they can remember how they felt when adults didn't want to listen to them ... or seemed to have forgotten what it was like, to see the world through a child's eyes. The beauty of the author's final sentence still haunts me when I think about the people who lived in my town before I came along -- and all of those who'll be here in a future I can barely imagine.
This book is an example of what I call respectful writing for kids. The author assumes that young readers have more than the bare minimum of intelligence, and she lets them figure things out for themselves. It was fun to see the story of the ghost unfold, just as good as reading a Sherlock Holmes mystery.
In the pre Harry Potter days this was typical fare for young adults. It has a kid for a protagonist, written in language that they can read, and just the right length.