This is the second book by Andy Klein in the ‘Fantastic Adventures’ series, and is a delightful story about a young boy, named Oliver, who has the special ability to see and hear ghosts and befriends one while staying at his aunt’s “spooky mansion” with his dad. The little ghost, named Austin, is very safety conscious and takes steps throughout the story to protect both Oliver and his father, like putting out the fire in the fireplace, turning off the stove, draining the tub, and having Oliver wear arm bands and a snorkel in the bath. At one point, Austin even saves Oliver’s dad from a dangerous fall by pushing away a toy at the very last minute! Oliver’s dad takes pictures of the odd things, even though he cannot see Austin. By the end of the trip, Oliver has made a friend, whom I am sure he will never forget!
I love this book for several reasons. Not only is it an adorable story that is easy to read and understand for kids of all ages, but it has an underlying message addressing diversity. It shows children (and adults too!) that you can become friends with anyone who is kind and caring, no matter how they look or where they are from. Oliver told his dad that Austin “is a good boy”. The fact that Austin was not the same as Oliver, made no difference in his decision to become friends with him. I am (as I am sure most parents are) always telling my son that it doesn’t matter how a person looks on the outside, it’s whether they are a good person that matters. This story delivers this message without being outright and preachy.
Also, the dad in this story is just great! Even though he can’t see Austin, he listens and acknowledges Oliver’s accounts and plays along, even saying good night to Austin while Oliver is sleeping. He doesn’t diminish Oliver’s views and keeps an open mind, even there is no evidence that Austin exists. He simply tells Oliver that he thinks something strange was going on but that he has no evidence that the house was haunted, and leaves it at that. By doing so, he encourages Oliver’s imagination.
Finally, the pictures in this book are beautiful and colorful. Children (and their parents) will enjoy reading this book together.
You can find this book on amazon: