________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 22 . . . . June 27, 2008


The Proof That Ghosts Exist. (The Ghosthunters 1).

Carol Matas & Perry Nodelman.
Toronto, ON: Key Porter Books, 2008.
216 pp., pbk., $11.95.
ISBN 978-1-55470-014-1.

Subject Headings:
Ghost stories.
Detective and mystery stories.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Brianne Grant.

***½ /4


Ghosts that kill. Eerie. I wonder why, thought Adam. They must have had a reason – some grudge against the Barnett family that made them want to get rid of all the sons before they became thirty-five. Was it something one of his ancestors did to someone? Was it something to do with revenge, or politics, or money?

Oh my gosh, Adam thought. I'm a son, too! If this continues, it'll be my turn next – and I only have about 25 years left of my life.

But first, it would have to be Dad's turn.


"I think I'd better go check on Dad," he said, and he was out of the room and down the hall before Molly or Granddad could say anything.


Ghosts that kill provides the spook-a-riffic basis for the mystery that Adam and his sister Molly try to solve in The Proof that Ghosts Exist by Carol Matas and Perry Nodelman. This is the exciting first book in "The Ghosthunters" trilogy, and so, although some mysteries are solved, the book leaves the reader with many unanswered questions. The author duo begin the story on the premise of a family curse and then continue to mix in more mysterious elements to keep readers guessing and build the suspense. The Proof that Ghosts Exist is both an entertaining, light read and a thought-provoking story about the supernatural world.

     The Barnett curse is one that strikes the sons before their 35th birthday, and Adam and Molly soon discover some unsettling pieces to this curse. As they strive to unravel this family mystery and protect their dad, Tim, from harm, they must master their own fears and communicate with the world beyond. On the eve of Tim's 35th birthday, the Barnett family heads to their lakeside cottage, with the exception of their mother who has to stay home to work. When Adam and Molly discover their grandfather's ghost in Molly's bedroom, they start to realize that the family curse is more than what they had initially thought. The siblings take some prodding to accept this reality. Adam is a believer in the supernatural but is entirely shocked upon seeing his grandfather. Molly is the opposite of Adam; she is a rational, logical, "everything in its place" kind of girl. They are the odd couple of ghost hunting, a situation which leads to many entertaining disagreements and situations.

     Although the family (and their very wimpy Wheaten Terrier, Charlie) are supposed to be relaxing and taking it easy with their dad at the cabin, a suspicious incident leaves Adam and Molly's dad with a sprained ankle. A creepy giant-sized nurse, Reggie Crankshaft, comes supposedly to help their dad recover. Despite their grandfather's being a ghost that appeared and disappeared before their eyes, Reggie "was so there it was positively alarming." His gleaming teeth and frightful command of their father send Charlie out of the house and put Adam and Molly on alert for their dad's safety. All the while, they must try to work out the history of their family curse with their ghostly grandfather and his research to save the future of the Barnett men.

     The success of this novel is in the way Nodelman and Matas tease the reader with questions of who is evil, what is evil, how do you fight or stand up to an evil that knows all of your weaknesses? Adam and Molly's love for their dad keeps them motivated to face their fears, although, at the moment, they can only trust their instinct and the words of their grandfather. A gentle humour takes the edge away from the suspense. Simply put, The Proof that Ghosts Exist is a fun book to read from start to finish.

     Nodelman and Matas effortlessly weave mystery, suspense and humour throughout the novel. As they prove that ghosts exits, the writing duo raises of number of fun and frightening questions about the supernatural world and the connection of the living to it. The Proof that Ghosts Exist is a light read that is truly "filled with chills thrills and more than a few laughs."

Highly Recommended.

Brianne Grant is a student in the Master of Arts in Children's Literature at the University of British Columbia, and Executive Councillor-West for IBBY Canada.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.