Monday, February 13, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Ghost Messages

Today’s pick:  Ghost Messages by Jacqueline Guest

Cocteau Books, 2011

From the Book Jacket:
Thirteen year-old Ailish, a feisty Irish fortune-teller, is about to become part of history. She becomes trapped on the mighty Great Eastern just as the ship sets off on its voyage to lay the very first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. Escape is impossible! Ailish must pretend to be a boy to keep from being pitched into the ocean by the superstitious sailors, while dodging a dangerous ruffian who has stolen her golden treasure. She frequently gets help from a pale young boy named Davy, who seems to know everything about the Great Eastern, but won't ever come up on deck. Will Ailish's wits, her determination, and her friendships help her to survive the trip, find her treasure and solve the mystery of her young companion?

My Take: 
I love all the action in this story, as Ailish tries to keep her identity hidden on the ship while looking for her Dad’s treasure. Even though there is a picture of a girl prominently on the cover, I think both boys and girls would enjoy this story with all its details about life on the ship and possible sabotage of the cable.

This novel opened my eyes to a piece of history I’d never given much thought to before – how cable was laid under the ocean to make it possible for people to quickly communicate between North America and Europe, without having to wait weeks for messages by boat. I appreciated the author’s notes about how she became interested in this part of our past and how she used historical facts in writing this story. As a writer, it’s interesting to see how the author uses words and expressions to convey the time period without making the story too stiff and distant to connect with contemporary readers.  
Other Info:

This book is nominated for the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading in the Silver Birch (Fiction) category for 2012. If you aren’t familiar with the Forest of Reading program, here’s how it works: Professionals from schools and public libraries nominate a selection of books in a specific category, students from all over the province read them all and then in April they vote for their favourite. Here’s my writing buddy Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s take on last year’s celebration.

In case you didn’t catch it, last week I profiled Undergrounders by David Skuy, another one of the nominated books.

Other books by this author include:
War Games (James Lorimer and Company, 2008)
Dream Race (James Lorimer and Company, 2006)
Secret Signs (Orca Book Publishers, 2006)
Wild Ride (James Lorimer and Company, 2005)
Racing Fear (James Lorimer and Company, 2004)
At Risk (James Lorimer and Company, 2004)
Belle of Batoche (Orca Book Publishers, 2004)
Soccer Star! (James Lorimer and Company, 2003)
A Goal In Sight (James Lorimer and Company, 2002)
Rink Rivals (James Lorimer and Company, 2001)
Rookie Season (James Lorimer and Company, 2000)
Lightning Rider (James Lorimer and Company, 2000)
Free Throw (James Lorimer and Company, 1999)
Triple Threat (James Lorimer and Company, 1999)
Hat Trick (James Lorimer and Company, 1997)

For more, go to Jacqueline Guest’s website.


  1. Jotting down this title and author right now! A bit of history tossed with an older MC is always great for my son who is on the cusp of YA but not quite there yet.

  2. I need to read this book! Thanks for the review!

  3. Hey Andrea-


    You captured the tone and intent of the story perfectly. I want readers to enjoy a swashbuckling adventure, with danger and excitement, while learning a little real history at the same time. I believe Ghost Messages fills the bill. Thank you for your insights. Jacqueline Guest
    P.S. A new exciting novel, Outcasts of River Falls, is coming out April 13 and I think readers will love this one!


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