Jack & Annie

Magic Tree House Research Guide: Ghosts  A nonfiction companion to A Good Night for Ghosts
by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce; illustrated by Sal Murdocca    118 pages    pub. 2009 Random House Children’s Books   ($4.99 paperback)


Got a young ghostbuster in your house?   So, where can you find a good book on paranormal research that appeals to an eager eight year-old who wants the FACTS about ghosts sans the cutesey “Boo-Berries and Ghost Toasties” style of your average not-really-serious-for-kids book of ghost stories?  Check out The Magic Tree House Research Guide: Ghosts,  billed as a non-fiction companion to A Good Night for Ghosts.  


This research book reinforces the fictional ghost encounters in the companion book, A Good Night for Ghosts, by getting down to business and relating well-known non-fictional ghost stories from all over the world.  What are the origins of the famous Maco Railroad Lights? (These are not too far from right here in the upstate!)  What strange events that helped shape our states’ histories have given us some of our most famous ghost stories?  (The ghosts of New Orleans make themselves known here.)   Why do people believe in ghosts?  (The chapter, “What Are Ghosts All About?” deals with this.)


The book invites us to find out the answers to these questions and more in Magic Tree House Research Guide: Ghosts, where characters Jack and Annie narrate ghost stories from all over the world.  These are real places that have been studied and documented by paranormal researchers and can even be visited on historical tours and ghost tours. Extra reading on the activity is available at your local library, bookstore, or online.


These famous stories are related to us with wording and a delicious excitement that is appealing to children. The Magic Tree House website awaits with suggestions for further reading and research like Secrets and Hauntings of Glamis Castle and ghost hunting on US turf, which, incidentally, would make for a great family vacation.


The online Teacher's Guide features many discussion activities like this one:

The Research Guide tells many ghost stories from throughout history, and then offers a scientific explanation for some of the "spooky" things people see and feel. Why do you think the authors chose to write the book this way?


More examples of topics for discussion:

1. Ancient Greeks and Romans believed that ghosts were spirits of people who

had not had a proper burial before they died.

3. In Mexico, La Llorona is the famous crying ghost weeping for her drowned children.

4. Children in Africa may hear stories of friendly ghosts who are spirits of their ancestors.


Ghost hunting finally is receiving the respect it deserves in the classroom.  In fact, cryptozoology is a popular offering among teachers and students alike in my area where in my “day job” I often help children develop their research skills.  This subject fires their desire to do their homework!


Rating  ******The CatHerder  4/25/10