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The Ghost Children

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When Matt and Abby go to live with Great-Aunt Gerda in Sierra Madre Canyon after their mother dies, Matt is put off at first by the life-size wooden dolls whom Aunt Gerda talks to and calls her “children.” However, when someone vandalizes the dolls and two are stolen, it is Matt, with the help of his new friend, Kristin, who foils the would-be thief and returns the dolls t When Matt and Abby go to live with Great-Aunt Gerda in Sierra Madre Canyon after their mother dies, Matt is put off at first by the life-size wooden dolls whom Aunt Gerda talks to and calls her “children.” However, when someone vandalizes the dolls and two are stolen, it is Matt, with the help of his new friend, Kristin, who foils the would-be thief and returns the dolls to Aunt Gerda.


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When Matt and Abby go to live with Great-Aunt Gerda in Sierra Madre Canyon after their mother dies, Matt is put off at first by the life-size wooden dolls whom Aunt Gerda talks to and calls her “children.” However, when someone vandalizes the dolls and two are stolen, it is Matt, with the help of his new friend, Kristin, who foils the would-be thief and returns the dolls t When Matt and Abby go to live with Great-Aunt Gerda in Sierra Madre Canyon after their mother dies, Matt is put off at first by the life-size wooden dolls whom Aunt Gerda talks to and calls her “children.” However, when someone vandalizes the dolls and two are stolen, it is Matt, with the help of his new friend, Kristin, who foils the would-be thief and returns the dolls to Aunt Gerda.

30 review for The Ghost Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    C. (friends, please call me by name)

    I took pleasure in Eve Bunting two years ago but the pacing and focus of “Ghost Behind Me”, 1984, were off. An overtly paranormal story should thrill me. On the other hand, I was dubious about how exciting “The Ghost Children” might be, after I bought a perfect second-hand copy. Indeed, the background of the titular dolls is never discussed and whether anything metaphysical was at play, remains an uncertainty. Normally, I dislike the lack of an ethereal history and a sketchy book categorization. I took pleasure in Eve Bunting two years ago but the pacing and focus of “Ghost Behind Me”, 1984, were off. An overtly paranormal story should thrill me. On the other hand, I was dubious about how exciting “The Ghost Children” might be, after I bought a perfect second-hand copy. Indeed, the background of the titular dolls is never discussed and whether anything metaphysical was at play, remains an uncertainty. Normally, I dislike the lack of an ethereal history and a sketchy book categorization.... However, intrigue sneaks up on you and you observe that you are breezing through the pages. It is for children. There is nothing evil but it is inexplicably spooky. Adopted nephew, Matt, needs an uncomfortable question answered and for all the book’s subtleness; so do the readers! Are these heavy wooden dolls an oddity, or is it Aunt Gerda? Are these wooden dolls folk art, or a neighbourhood menace? It felt enthralling to read this surprising gem. After their Mom died, teenaged Matt and toddler Abby go to her Aunt. The art theme is strong because their Mom was a painter and their late Great-Uncle crafted the dolls. Aunt Gerda interacts with them as if they were living. One was buried! What would anyone make of that?! I cherish my stuffed toys and treat them lovingly. However, I know they are inanimate. The gift of originality is that there is no formula for gauging how this 1989 story will go. It is a feat, that hardly anything dramatic happens, mystically.... and yet, I was riveted all the way. Eve clearly learned her Irish story-weaving art well. We sympathize with practical issues too. Their dear adopter has strained finances and only a few neighbours are friends. The story unexpectedly sweeps us away, with a mysteriousness that pervades!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ravenna

    I enjoyed this book as a very young child, I remembered it for all of my life, and when I saw it at a discount book store I snatched it up with a gasp of excitement. I have recently been collecting a lot of books from my childhood that I enjoyed and that bring me such happiness to read again. I was afraid that this book would in reality be a greatly different from what I remember from my childhood, but it was just as wonderfully creepy as I remembered. I love the characters, the story and the way I enjoyed this book as a very young child, I remembered it for all of my life, and when I saw it at a discount book store I snatched it up with a gasp of excitement. I have recently been collecting a lot of books from my childhood that I enjoyed and that bring me such happiness to read again. I was afraid that this book would in reality be a greatly different from what I remember from my childhood, but it was just as wonderfully creepy as I remembered. I love the characters, the story and the way this book still gives me the chills. I really enjoyed the fact that this book deals with real problems facing children and with the fears they struggle with. This book is definitely at the top of my list as a great read for kids, its a fun and creepy way to talk with children about real world problems that they and their peers face, along with fears they struggle with.

  3. 5 out of 5

    A. Riley

    After the loss of his mother, Matt and his little sister Abby move off to California with their great-aunt Gerda, whom they've never met. But not only do they have to adjust to a new home, they must also get used to the life-sized dolls known as "the children." These dolls, which adorn the front lawn, are not well-liked by the neighbors and have been the target of many dangerous hate crimes. How can Matt help protect his aunt and "the children" if he's not so sure about "the children" himself? After the loss of his mother, Matt and his little sister Abby move off to California with their great-aunt Gerda, whom they've never met. But not only do they have to adjust to a new home, they must also get used to the life-sized dolls known as "the children." These dolls, which adorn the front lawn, are not well-liked by the neighbors and have been the target of many dangerous hate crimes. How can Matt help protect his aunt and "the children" if he's not so sure about "the children" himself?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Camden Johnson

    This book was alright. It wasn't bad but it was predictable at some parts. It kind of reminds me of goosebumps and 90s kids horror books. If you like that style then this book would definitely be for you :) This book was alright. It wasn't bad but it was predictable at some parts. It kind of reminds me of goosebumps and 90s kids horror books. If you like that style then this book would definitely be for you :)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Molly S

    If you like books that give you the chills I recommend this one. This book is like the movie Annabelle because they both involve scary looking dolls. The Ghost Children is about two kids named Abigail and Matthew. They have to come to California to live with their great Aunt Gerda because their mom died of cancer and their dad had died many years before. Their Great Aunt Gerda has 7 wooden dolls in the back yard and they are as big as a baby great white shark. She calls them the children.They al If you like books that give you the chills I recommend this one. This book is like the movie Annabelle because they both involve scary looking dolls. The Ghost Children is about two kids named Abigail and Matthew. They have to come to California to live with their great Aunt Gerda because their mom died of cancer and their dad had died many years before. Their Great Aunt Gerda has 7 wooden dolls in the back yard and they are as big as a baby great white shark. She calls them the children.They also are scarier than the clown from It. On the first night they are with Aunt Gerda Matt heard Aunt Gerda say goodnight to the children and he heard them say goodnight back. So are the children alive or is Matt imagining things.To find out you have to read this book. I hope to find a book as good as this one in the future. I also hope you read this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    I read this when I was about nine and I hardly remember anything about it. All I know is that I loved it then.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

    This one was just weird.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    Uh boo..yea not the scary Halloween fun Boo..but uh boo this book was not what I expected at all..The premise was there--the small mystery of the dolls and endearing main character make you want to read but it was not worth it ultimately LOL..Okay so this is the story of a young Matthew his little sister Abigail who sadly and recently are turned into orphans with the death of their parents. They are sent to live with their elderly widowed Aunt Gerda in a house she inhabits with the title charact Uh boo..yea not the scary Halloween fun Boo..but uh boo this book was not what I expected at all..The premise was there--the small mystery of the dolls and endearing main character make you want to read but it was not worth it ultimately LOL..Okay so this is the story of a young Matthew his little sister Abigail who sadly and recently are turned into orphans with the death of their parents. They are sent to live with their elderly widowed Aunt Gerda in a house she inhabits with the title characters-and who the book is about: the creepy dolls. The dolls are her children, wooden and hand carved by her late husband, they have hair and are meticulously dressed by Aunt Gerda and sit in the yard prominently displayed with their carved smiles..but everyone in the town is creeped out by them and soon Matthew is too. With random acts of vandalism against the dolls and some weird moments of the dolls talking and having a ghostly aura, even a dead doll and a huge theft—but alas this book was just okay, it ended rather silly and were the dolls haunted um you have to read through yourself to find out—LOL ..so will I be recommending this..I will tell my seventh graders about it but won’t hype it..sigh the reads I find on my shelves to promote..ah well if I won’t read it neither will they..Read on!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jillyn

    I first read this book as a kid, and I remember being particularly creeped out by it. I felt similarly towards a lot of books about dolls and dummies (like The Dollhouse Murders and Night of the Living Dummy, for example). I came across my old copy on one of my bookshelves and decided to give it another go as an adult, to see if it holds up. And, it doesn't. Not quite. The intrigue and inherent spookiness is still there, but it's not nearly as scary as I remember. It lingers in a sort of mysterio I first read this book as a kid, and I remember being particularly creeped out by it. I felt similarly towards a lot of books about dolls and dummies (like The Dollhouse Murders and Night of the Living Dummy, for example). I came across my old copy on one of my bookshelves and decided to give it another go as an adult, to see if it holds up. And, it doesn't. Not quite. The intrigue and inherent spookiness is still there, but it's not nearly as scary as I remember. It lingers in a sort of mysterious tone, as opposed to horror or thriller. Obviously, this book is for children, so it did its job for its intended audience, and I've just grown up. The tone is what really sells this book. It's all a bit spooky and ominous, although it is extremely predictable in some parts. And in other parts, there's big plot holes that don't ever really get filled in. Still, it has that enjoyable 1990's nostalgia to it, in the same way that RL Stine's Goosebumps series does. But, I find those enjoyable to reread. As for The Ghost Children, I have fond memories, but it's time to say goodbye from my shelf. If you enjoyed the Goosebumps book or if you have a kid who likes spooky stories, this is a good one to check out. But if you're an adult, it won't hold that same creepiness for you.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steph Lovelady

    The book starts strong, with orphaned brother and sister Matthew and Abigail moving in with their great aunt Gerda, who has a set of creepy life-size wooden dolls who may or may not be alive. But the plot soon turns from the supernatural question to Aunt Gerda's financial and social difficulties (ostracism and harassment from locals who are afraid of the creepy dolls) and these questions dominate most of the book, as Matthew, Abigail, and their new friend Kristin try to help Aunt Gerda. The two The book starts strong, with orphaned brother and sister Matthew and Abigail moving in with their great aunt Gerda, who has a set of creepy life-size wooden dolls who may or may not be alive. But the plot soon turns from the supernatural question to Aunt Gerda's financial and social difficulties (ostracism and harassment from locals who are afraid of the creepy dolls) and these questions dominate most of the book, as Matthew, Abigail, and their new friend Kristin try to help Aunt Gerda. The two strands of the plot do come back together in the end and it's tied up pretty well. I just would have preferred it to be more of a ghost story.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Harley Bennett

    Matt and his little sister Abby move in with Aunt Gerda. Aunt Gerda has seven life-sized dolls that her late husband had made. She talks to them as if they are real. Matt begins to think that they just might come to life when no one is looking. Matt unnaturally overreacts. For a thirteen-year-old, this behavior comes too early in the story. If he had been nine or ten his reaction would have been more believable. The ending was rather abrupt. I was expecting more.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Anette

    Tried to read this many times as a child, and remebember it being veeeery weird. Not creepy, just plain weird, and that's what made it so hard to get through it. I think I finally made it through though, when I got older. Tried to read this many times as a child, and remebember it being veeeery weird. Not creepy, just plain weird, and that's what made it so hard to get through it. I think I finally made it through though, when I got older.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Megan Segovia

    My 9 year old gave me this to read. I wanted to like because the story line is very unique. But it was slow moving and ended in a very lackluster fashion. She told me she also couldn’t get into it. So that makes me feel less critical for my overall opinion of it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bella May

    This book I read last year in 7th grade. It was one of the first mystery books I read, and it was different. I really liked it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    What the heck did I just read? Lol

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joan Stanley

    I badly wanted to love this book. The plot line was awesome... When Matt's mother passes away, he and his little sister Ab go to live with their Aunt Gerda. Gerda keeps life-sized dolls in her front yard, and refers to them as her 'children'. She talks to the dolls and treats them as if they are human. But one of the 'children' is dead, and buried in the yard. If the dolls aren't alive, how could one be dead? And when Matt hears the dolls talking at night, is it possible they are alive? The book I badly wanted to love this book. The plot line was awesome... When Matt's mother passes away, he and his little sister Ab go to live with their Aunt Gerda. Gerda keeps life-sized dolls in her front yard, and refers to them as her 'children'. She talks to the dolls and treats them as if they are human. But one of the 'children' is dead, and buried in the yard. If the dolls aren't alive, how could one be dead? And when Matt hears the dolls talking at night, is it possible they are alive? The book started out enticing because it established this storyline. It slowed down after Matt hears the dolls talk for the first time. The middle was kind of boring, and so was most of the end. Eve Bunting really set this up to be a terrifying horror story, but it was more of a childish mystery. If I wrote this, man I would make it creepy as heck. The characters were overall well-written, except the annoying Kristin... Matt's new friend. She kept popping up at the most unnecessary times and I had no interest in her or her home life. Overall, "The Ghost Children" was a pretty fun, and really quick read. Would I recommend it to somebody? Possibly. Would I recommend it if you are looking for a scary thriller? Not at all.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Augusta Michelle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Well if you know I just made an account last month,and I usually like the books I read, but this was awful! Let me tell you what happens that way nobody else buys this book and hates it like I did!I bought this book and thought,"Hey this must be about ghosts who are children."FYI I didn't have time to read the summary!The story line is poorly created!So what happens is Matt and his little sister go to live with their Aunt Gerda.So anyhow she has these dolls and she talks to them and they talk ba Well if you know I just made an account last month,and I usually like the books I read, but this was awful! Let me tell you what happens that way nobody else buys this book and hates it like I did!I bought this book and thought,"Hey this must be about ghosts who are children."FYI I didn't have time to read the summary!The story line is poorly created!So what happens is Matt and his little sister go to live with their Aunt Gerda.So anyhow she has these dolls and she talks to them and they talk back to her!Next some art guy steals her dead doll and Matt and Abby plan on retreating the doll.Before they do you find out that Aunt Gerda has a recorder that makes the dolls talk.At the end of the story they retreive the doll and the last page the dolls start singing to Matt (the art guy said Aunt Gerda was a terrible singer and the dolls weren't.)The point is if your'e like me and don't have time to read a summary,go on goodreads and look at the reviews first!

  18. 5 out of 5

    D.M. Dutcher

    Matt and Abigail are two children who after the loss of their mother go to live with their aunt. Their aunt is a kind old women, but she has a weird quirk to her: she has a bunch of wooden scarecrows she keeps in her yard and talks to like they were her children. Matt soon discovers that they might talk back, and the town wants them out of there. Can she help her aunt and the children stay? The problem with the book is that it doesn't choose one way to be. It mostly is a minor mystery and charact Matt and Abigail are two children who after the loss of their mother go to live with their aunt. Their aunt is a kind old women, but she has a weird quirk to her: she has a bunch of wooden scarecrows she keeps in her yard and talks to like they were her children. Matt soon discovers that they might talk back, and the town wants them out of there. Can she help her aunt and the children stay? The problem with the book is that it doesn't choose one way to be. It mostly is a minor mystery and character study of a lonely aunt and two children. This wouldn't be so bad if the ghostly children were active in helping Matt save his aunt, but Bunting also tries to keep the whole "are they ghosts or not?" mystery going, and add minor horror to the mix. It makes for a book that is half and half, and disappointing all around.

  19. 4 out of 5

    carolyn

    A story about a widowed woman, whose husband made her these wooden dolls when he was alive. She referred to them as her children, as if they were alive and could talk. She kept them all propped up in her yard and many people were scared of them and have even mentioned that they heard them talking. Other people just wanted to get the old lady and her dolls out of their town because it wasn't good for business. She takes in her nephew and niece to live with her after their mother passed away. The A story about a widowed woman, whose husband made her these wooden dolls when he was alive. She referred to them as her children, as if they were alive and could talk. She kept them all propped up in her yard and many people were scared of them and have even mentioned that they heard them talking. Other people just wanted to get the old lady and her dolls out of their town because it wasn't good for business. She takes in her nephew and niece to live with her after their mother passed away. The "children" were being defaced, abused and even murdered. Her nephew was determined to find out what all this was about and soon the story starts to unfold. A quick read. Kind of entertaining but not a story I would ever recommend someone to read, or even read again myself.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Roxann

    This was the first Eve Bunting book I think I have read. The book was written for children. It's a 'weird' little book. The children (main characters) in the book rang true. The great-aunt was part of the 'weird'. Life-size wooden dolls was the other weird part. Throughout the story the reader begins to think that the great-aunt is strange if not crazy. She calls the dolls her children and at times it appears they talk back to her. Neighbors seem to dislike the dolls and are scared of them. Peop This was the first Eve Bunting book I think I have read. The book was written for children. It's a 'weird' little book. The children (main characters) in the book rang true. The great-aunt was part of the 'weird'. Life-size wooden dolls was the other weird part. Throughout the story the reader begins to think that the great-aunt is strange if not crazy. She calls the dolls her children and at times it appears they talk back to her. Neighbors seem to dislike the dolls and are scared of them. People try to ruin the dolls and a couple are stolen. Of course there's a happy ending.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lanie

    Boring. An interesting idea that is taken down by boring writing style, stupid characters with no interests, weird motivation, and no one ever thinking to do something about these two kids being with a supposedly crazy old lady & getting on a bus all by themselves to go to freaking l.a. I think in the hands of a better writer it could have been brilliant, but here it was a chore to get through. Like seriously boring, and I'm glad I got it used. It was not scary or spooky in the least, and was a Boring. An interesting idea that is taken down by boring writing style, stupid characters with no interests, weird motivation, and no one ever thinking to do something about these two kids being with a supposedly crazy old lady & getting on a bus all by themselves to go to freaking l.a. I think in the hands of a better writer it could have been brilliant, but here it was a chore to get through. Like seriously boring, and I'm glad I got it used. It was not scary or spooky in the least, and was a total waste of my time for scary stories this horror week. :(

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This book is actually really good I thought I wasn't gonna like it.After I read a couple of chapters it was then it started to get good.This book kept me at the edge of my seat the whole time.The trippy part about it is that the aunt was talking to the dolls I thought it was pretty crazy.Thats when I kept on reading it a lot.At first they start to not like it there then they made a discoverie that they are ghost children which is really amazing in my mind. If you like non scary but creepy books This book is actually really good I thought I wasn't gonna like it.After I read a couple of chapters it was then it started to get good.This book kept me at the edge of my seat the whole time.The trippy part about it is that the aunt was talking to the dolls I thought it was pretty crazy.Thats when I kept on reading it a lot.At first they start to not like it there then they made a discoverie that they are ghost children which is really amazing in my mind. If you like non scary but creepy books i reccomend this one for you to read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    I read this book originally as a child and it stuck with me. I've found myself searching for it time and again, but it was only a week or so ago that I finally found the title and author. After rereading I can see how its books like this that have helped me develop the type of reading that I enjoy now. This isn't the best book I've ever read, but it stuck with me for at least 20 years now and that can't be a bad thing. I read this book originally as a child and it stuck with me. I've found myself searching for it time and again, but it was only a week or so ago that I finally found the title and author. After rereading I can see how its books like this that have helped me develop the type of reading that I enjoy now. This isn't the best book I've ever read, but it stuck with me for at least 20 years now and that can't be a bad thing.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brittnee Hughes

    I picked up this book for no reason, I had to read so I grabbed this book. The plot was great or at least it sounded great. Abby and Matt's Mother dies, then they go to live with their Aunt Gerda who keeps life sized dolls in her front yard and refers to them as her "children". I thought it would be great but I just couldn't seem to get interested in it. It was a super easy book and just wasn't engaging enough to hold my attention. I picked up this book for no reason, I had to read so I grabbed this book. The plot was great or at least it sounded great. Abby and Matt's Mother dies, then they go to live with their Aunt Gerda who keeps life sized dolls in her front yard and refers to them as her "children". I thought it would be great but I just couldn't seem to get interested in it. It was a super easy book and just wasn't engaging enough to hold my attention.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    This unique book was very...interesting. The storyline is sometimes very captivating but sometimes it just has those moments of unneeded dialogue or discription. This book is for everyone but I'd recommend it to people that can withstand sequences of sheer inactivity with no progression of the plot. I personally probably won't find myself reading this again, but that doesn't mean the next guy won't love it to bits. So overall, not bad but lacking some action/horror throughout. This unique book was very...interesting. The storyline is sometimes very captivating but sometimes it just has those moments of unneeded dialogue or discription. This book is for everyone but I'd recommend it to people that can withstand sequences of sheer inactivity with no progression of the plot. I personally probably won't find myself reading this again, but that doesn't mean the next guy won't love it to bits. So overall, not bad but lacking some action/horror throughout.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Thea Bee

    This was realllllly scary I read it when I was like 11 ...bad idea lol I had to keep the lights on =P In this spine-tingling mystery the only thing scarier then one of the "children " being dead is the possibility that they're alive.... This was realllllly scary I read it when I was like 11 ...bad idea lol I had to keep the lights on =P In this spine-tingling mystery the only thing scarier then one of the "children " being dead is the possibility that they're alive....

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Paule Buskin

    This book was entertaining enough, but it got kind of boring really quickly. The ending was HORRIBLE. I was just like, "I really spent a whole day reading this, for THIS?" Don't read it, unless you want a quick fun read. This book was entertaining enough, but it got kind of boring really quickly. The ending was HORRIBLE. I was just like, "I really spent a whole day reading this, for THIS?" Don't read it, unless you want a quick fun read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    RLB Hartmann

    Eve Bunting is one of the authors whose work I seek out, devour, and prowl for the next unread title. The Ghost Children was spookier than most, though all have that edge. The cover of the Bantam Skylark edition is different from the one showing, and IMO more appropriate for the intended age group.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    This was quite different from any other Bunting book I have read, but it wasn't my cup of tea. It succeeded in creeping me out, but otherwise I am not sure what it did. This was quite different from any other Bunting book I have read, but it wasn't my cup of tea. It succeeded in creeping me out, but otherwise I am not sure what it did.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    A mystery/supernatural book that kept my attention. A boy and girl are sent to live with a relative that keeps life-size dolls in her yard that begin disappearing.

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