‘My Family and Other Ghosts,’ by Lou Kuenzler, illustrated by Steve Brown.

Today is my stop on the ‘My Family and Other Ghosts’ blog tour. I am very excited to be on board as I’ve loved all the previous books of Lou’s that I’ve read and I have a special piece from her about how the story reflected her relationship with her brother growing up. But first it’s time for ghosties and ghoulies and some interesting food combinations……

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Ten-year-old twins Ivy and Ash’s dad is a chef. A chef with a taste for rather unusual food combinations which has resulted in him getting sacked from every job he’s ever had. The twins are worried that he’s getting depressed, so when they receive a ghostly visitor in the form of their deceased Grandpa Digby they are thrilled to learn that there’s a head chef (and manager) job going at Grave Grange, Darkmoor.

The pair hatch a plan to get Dad to make the move and off they go.  They decide not to mention that the mansion is haunted!

When they arrive, Ivy and Ash set about making friends with the residents ghosts and conjuring up some paying guests whilst Dad experiments in the kitchen. But after a terrible online review from their first and only guests, will anyone actually want to stay?

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Now it’s time to hear from Lou how her own sibling relationship inspired that of Ash and Ivy in this story:,  

Seeing Double In My Family And Other Ghosts

The writing process for my latest young-readers’ adventure story, My Family And Other Ghosts, has been particularly exciting –  and indeed challenging – for me, as it is the first time I have attempted a split viewpoint with two central characters commenting on the action throughout.  

Although told in the third person, we closely follow the ten-year-old twins, Ash and Ivy Graves, in alternate chapters with each of them offering their particular and very different spin on the spooky events which unfold.

I have always been fascinated by the differences and similarities between siblings, and where these characteristics branch off or overlap. When I was growing up, I was convinced that my brother and I were about as different as it is possible for two human beings to be. He liked red sweets, I liked green. If he said ‘X’, I said ‘Y’. If he wanted to jump off a ten foot wall, I wanted to run away in the opposite direction. … The list goes on and on.  If you had asked me when I was nine (or nineteen), I would have said that we were very different people with very little in common, but now I am older I see that there are many similarities too.  The same things make us laugh and the same things make us furious – and when we smile or scowl our (very different) faces suddenly look similar too.

My brother and I both have families of our own now and have told our children stories about the same events in our shared childhood, so that the cousins now have links and overlaps as well.  Although, of course, the way that my brother and I remember the stories is still very different! It was this idea which I wanted to capture in the two voices at the heart of My Family And Other Ghosts.  Put simply, Ivy is brave and Ash is not.  But it is more complicated than that (as sibling relationships always are).

In the case of my brother and I, he was definitely the bold one, being physically daring as I hung back.  Yet, in my imagination, I was dreaming myself to be far braver than even he ever could.

I think Ivy and Ash operate in a similar way.  Although Ivy is physically very bold and daring, it does not mean that Ash does not have emotional courage and the ability to be hugely brave when he wants to help those he loves.  On the flip side, Ivy barely even flinches when a mysterious poltergeist throws a stuffed badger at her head, but is terrified of seeing her dad feel sad or offending a visiting guest.  Courage (and siblings) come in all shapes and sizes and it has been huge fun exploring this with ghosts and ghouls thrown in for good measure.

Thank you, Lou. Isn’t it interesting how two people can have such different interpretations of the same events?

If you want to try more of Lou’s books, I love the Bella Broomstick series for younger readers, and her reimagining of a classic – Finding Black Beauty.

Library Girl.

*Many thanks to Scholastic for sending me this title to review*

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