By GLENN TOLLE
Lately, I’ve been wanting to go camping. I always get this way when winter really sets in. Suddenly, I want to do everything that is hard and or impossible to do with snow covering the ground. Thankfully, books allow us to do anything we want regardless of the weather. In this edition of FRIGHTS FOR TYKES I will be recommending THE CAMPFIRE GHOSTS (EAGLE-EYE ERNIE) by Susan Pearson illustrated by Gioia Fiammenghi published by Simon & Schuster in 1990.
In it, Ernie and her friends Michael, William and R.T – all members of The Martian Club – go on a camping trip with Ernie’s mom and dad. They are treated to a few ghost stories and lose two valuable objects — Michael’s “space star” pin and R.T’s (fake) “diamond ring.” The kids become convinced that ghosts are responsible for the missing valuables but Ernie is not so sure. She puts her Eagle Eye to work and gets to the bottom of the mystery while discovering, along with her friends and parents, the joy of sleeping under the stars.
THE CAMPFIRE GHOSTS is an exceptionally well-written and well-paced read. It manages to be spooky and mysterious without being overtly frightening or confusing. It is apparent that Susan Pearson, or someone she knows, is an avid camper and oral storyteller. The details used to flesh out the narrative are presented in a genuinely enthusiastic and knowledgeable manner, while the two ghost stories told around the campfire are beautifully rendered and could easily bear repetition on any camp out. Without the strength of these two key elements THE CAMPFIRE GHOSTS might have been a fun but unexceptional read; instead it stands out as a diamond in the rough of ghost /mystery books aimed at readers ages 6 to 8. What’s more, it serves as a perfect introduction to the EAGLE-EYE ERNIE series, a somewhat forgotten series of mystery books that sometimes had a creepy edge.
I bought my edition of THE CAMPFIRE GHOSTS (EAGLE-EYE ERNIE) at a library sale for a mere .50 cents and you can buy the same edition on AMAZON for $1.20, plus $4.57 shipping, used, in “Good” condition.
If you’re like me and like to camp but not in the cold like some crazy campers I know (I’m looking at you Uncle Scott), curl up with THE CAMPFIRE GHOSTS, a book that radiates so much fun you can almost toast marshmallows over it.
Until next time readers… stay warm.