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.)