Flashback Fridays: Blaze from beyond . . .
Posted by Stephanie Whelan
You’re a group of kids who fall into a small-town mystery when you hear mysterious noises in an old opera house. Strange clomping and whinnying noises haunt the rooms, but what does it mean?
Do you remember:
Ghost Horse Mystery by DJ Arneson and Tony Tallarico (Watermill Press, c1981)
I think we all have a few books we encountered in our lives as kids–books that maybe we picked up at yard sales, or trade in book fairs. I have a few like that. But one in particular that I picked up in fourth grade from a book fair where everyone brought in old books to sell for a fund raiser. I think I paid ten cents for the book. I bought it because of the cover and title of course (though I was a little disappointed in the fact it wasn’t a unicorn). Fourth grade, unicorn obsessed me was also a mystery fan with a tendency to read anything that landed in my hands. So this short paperback joined my small collection of personally owned books.
It tells the story from the first person perspective of Andy, a young man living in the small town of Montville. He and his teenage friends are hanging out in an old opera house when they first encounter the mysterious noises. They investigate, but can’t find an explainable reason for the noises. Before long, they’re actually seeing the ghostly vision of a horse. Blaze appears to be enlisting the teens help in uncovering a greedy plot to hide the truth of a will . . . and gain revenge on the men behind it.
The story’s fairly spartan in descriptions and any sort of back story for our protagonists. It’s also an odd book in that it mimics the older, 1950s style stories, but was published in the 1980s. The teenage characters would imply a more YA audience, but like Nancy Drew, the subject matter and mystery keep the content purely middle-grade. I don’t think it’s a great example of either mystery or ghost stories, but I have a fondness for it, since I read it right around the time I was tearing through Nancy Drew, and I did love the ghostly horse that was a main character. I’m pretty sure I had an imaginary ghost horse following me around for a few weeks after that. It’s got some lines in it that did have me a little flummoxed this time around when reading. One that stood out was “Double Christmas. I wish I was an ant.”
I guess I keep hold of the copy to remind me that I can have an attachment and get enjoyment out of books that may not be the most well-written or sensational stories. And this holds true of other young readers today–my tastes and critiques have become extremely discerning simply because I’ve read so many things. Once you have a lot of literature to compare a book to, it changes how you encounter it. But kids still discovering books and reading may find themselves reading and loving a worn out paperback they picked up somewhere–uncaring of what the masses may think of it, or how well it was reviewed.
What are some of your old encounters? Comments welcome!
About Stephanie WhelanI'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.
Posted on January 23, 2016, in Flashback Fridays, General Posts and tagged Authors, Books, Children's Books, Children's Literature, fantasy, kidlit, literature, MG Books, Middle-Grade Fiction, Paranormal, Reading, reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.