Hardly Haunted

by Jessie Sima (Author) Jessie Sima (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

From the bestselling creator of Not Quite Narwhal comes a delightfully spooky story about an old house who wants to be a home...even if her new family isn't what she expected. House has a problem. She's a little spooky. She's a little cobwebby. Oh, no! What if she's haunted?

She's not sure, but...her hinges creak. Her pipes bang. And on windy days, the branches scritch-scratch at her windows. She tries to hold her breath and be as still as possible. If she's on her best behavior, maybe a family will move in. How will House ever find a family that doesn't mind being haunted?

School Library Journal

Starred Review

K-Gr 2-The house on the hill thinks that she might be haunted because no one lives there. It's not her fault that her doors creak and the stairs squeak. She tries her best to hold her breath and be quiet, but as she quickly realizes, she likes being noisy. She hopes that maybe one day a family will move in that doesn't mind a little noise and doesn't care if she's haunted. When that day arrives, the haunted house knows that her new family accepts her for who she is. An inventive picture book, this forces readers to focus on the house's perspective, and build empathy for its plight. Every spread features the sad or confused or smiling house, and no more than a sentence or two. Somehow this spare telling is packed full of personification that readers can relate to and care bout. The sentence's location on the page is not limited to one place or format. Sometimes it's at the top of the page, sometimes it's a squiggly line that takes up most of the page and in other places, a word is enlarged and in a different font-all of this and a small black cat grab and hold any onlooker's attention. P.S. It's a family of ghosts who make this haunted house a haunted home. VERDICT This celebration of being true to oneself makes it a perfect addition to every library's picture book collection, and the spooky message is one that is welcome all year around.

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publisher's Weekly

A little sympathy for the eerie purple mansion for sale on the hill, please-she suspects that she may be haunted. "I’m a house... People are supposed to live in me," she worries. "Who would want to live in a haunted house?" As a wide-eyed black cat bounces through her cobweb-punctuated rooms, the expressive protagonist (in Sima’s cartoonishly ominous digital art, half-moon windows serve as eyes, and other architectural details provide hints of facial features) tries to suppress her creaky doors, squeaky floors, and other signs of hauntedness: "If I’m on my very best behavior... maybe no one will notice how spooky I am." But after inadvertently producing a veritable concert of ghostly sounds, she realizes that "she liked being noisy. Maybe she liked being haunted," and that what she really needs is a family who can "help this haunted house become a haunted home." Sima creates a lovely twist on finding one’s place in the world, told with a light touch and plenty of spooky onomatopoeia. Ages 4-8.

Copyright 2021 Publisher’s Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Jessie Sima
Jessie Sima is an author/illustrator living and working in New York City. They grew up in a small town in southern New Jersey, unaware that they were a storyteller. Once they figured it out, they told their family and friends, who took it quite well. They are the author of Not Quite Narwhal; Harriet Gets Carried Away; Love, Z; Snow Pony and the Seven Miniature Ponies; Spencer's New Pet; Jules vs. the Ocean; and Hardly Haunted. You can visit them at JessieSima.com.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
July 20, 2021

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