Ghosts! They’re definitely an October theme. So I thought I’d share some middle grade novels featuring ghosts. On my (other) blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, I interview a wide variety of authors, including some who write ghostly tales.


One of those authors is Charis Cotter, and back in November 2018 I interviewed her about her middle grade novel The Ghost Road, which features twins, family curses, and, of course, ghosts. Cotter told me: “Early in my thinking about the story, I imagined a ghost coming into the girl’s bedroom carrying a candle, and the story just went on from there. My mother’s family is from Ireland, and I have a strong sense of my female Irish ancestors and the burdens of shame and guilt that get passed down in a family. All of this influenced my story.”


In December 2020, I interviewed Dianne K. Salerni about her middle grade novel Eleanor, Alice, and the Roosevelt Ghosts. This book focuses on cousins Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt (later Longworth), and a menacing ghost in their house. Salerni said: “I had been toying for a long time with an idea for an alternate reality where ghosts were real and so prevalent that a scientific discipline had developed to ‘diagnose’ them into categories: Friendly, Unaware, or Vengeful. I wanted to write a story that centered around a ghost that was misdiagnosed and more dangerous than it first appeared.”


Then there’s Ghosted, by Michael Fry, in which a boy’s best friend returns as a ghost. I interviewed Fry in January 2021, and he said, “It’s tricky when you’re dealing with a deceased character. The question I asked myself was how would two real-world human boys react to this extraordinary situation. It’s a weird situation that sets up a lot of conflict. And conflict is the basis for humor. No conflict. No comedy.”


And last but not least, we have Noah McNichol and the Backstage Ghost, by Martha Freeman, whom I interviewed in March 2021. The story centers around a school play, and Freeman told me: “My friend Samantha, who is a high school drama teacher, posted a plea on Facebook for a volunteer to help her with an upcoming production. I had recently framed an old photo of my dad and my uncle working on a college production of Blithe Spirit, and I thought to myself, ‘Oh, it’s too bad my father is dead. He would have loved to help Samantha.’ Then I thought, ‘Hmmm, what if a ghost did help out with the school play?’ And bingo – I knew I had my next book. After that, it was just working out details.”


Of course, this is just a sampling of the amazing ghosts that appear in middle grade literature. But it’s a good start.


--Deborah Kalb


  1. Thanks so much for these great spooky recommendations Deborah! Have a great October :)

  2. I love Dianne K Salerni's book. The other ones sound like winners ad well. Thanks for sharing Deborah.


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