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Gus Was a Friendly Ghost

By Jane Thayer; illustrated by Seymour Fleishman

Like many of my childhood favorites, “Gus” came to me through the Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club, and it was one of my very favorites.


Gus lives in the attic of a house that looks like a perfect spot for a ghost, thanks to the illustrations by Seymour Fleishman. A family that Gus is very fond of lives in the house during the summer, and he delights in making ghostly sounds for them; it’s a happy arrangement for all. In the winter, Gus is a bit lonely and is happy to make the acquaintance of Mouse, inviting him to stay with him in the attic — a great stroke of fortune for Mouse, who enjoys all manner of cheesy treats served up by Gus.

When the family returns and upsets his happy routine, Mouse becomes cranky (love these illustrations) and tries to scare the family away. When they discover evidence of a mouse in the house, they set out to get rid of it, and Gus must come up with a plan to save the day.

I was always drawn to stories that set a cozy scene, and I think I was especially charmed by the idea of Gus and Mouse enjoying each other’s company (and all those cheesy concoctions) during the long winter months. If I had a penny for all of the times I read this one, I may very well have LitKid’s college education fund all wrapped up.


(Postscript: My eight-years-older sister created a “Gus” for our house, too, telling me many a tale about Marvin, the very pleasant ghost who lived in our attic … Marvin and Gus make up my personal Ghost Hall of Fame.)



By Roland Smith

My sixth-grade daughter checked out Peak for me at her school library. I’ve read a fair amount of climbing books, and this is a fun, young adult fictional story about a boy getting to know his biological dad while climbing Everest. In the process, he finds himself and his deeper priorities in life. Good messages, authentic climbing narrative, and simply a fun read for kids and adults.

~ SeattleDad

Little Joe

By Sandra Neil Wallace; illustrations by Mark Elliott


Eli and Grandpa are sitting in the old musty stall where the elder cow layed, calm. That night a calf is born, known to the world as Little Joe. Eli Stegner does all in his will to get his first calf ready for the State Fair. Through all the triumphs and hardships, Eli and Little Joe make it to the Cattle Livestock Competition, earning the compliment of “a fine young calf.” Eli is proud of himself and spends the rest of the fair hanging out with friends and going on rides.

This story is a classic  animal vs. nature set-up, but in a warm-hearted way. Anybody would be amazed by the relationship of Cattle and boy in this story. Sandra Neil Wallace tells a phenomenal story that kids (and adults) of all ages  will read time and time again, and enjoy it every time.


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October 2011
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