Ghost Boy, by Felicity Pulman

‘I say, wake up!’ He felt a touch, light as a feather against his face. Alarmed, he opened his eyes and jerked up, fists clenched to protect himself.
He was staring at himself.
Froggy blinked and stared again. He looked just the same…but he was wearing different clothes. Had he died, or what?

Ever since Froggy has come to live in Balgowlah, he has been having dreams about drowning. But, when he does nearly drown and meets someone who looks just like him, he starts to realise that dreams are not his own – they are real events that happened to another boy over 100 years ago. Thaddeus Dearborne, this other boy, needs help – and only Froggy can give it. First though he must learn to trust Thaddeus, a ghost with a secret. Both boys must also learn to trust Cassie Gibbs, one of the most popular girls at Froggy’s school, who has plenty of ideas about how to unravel Tad’s story.

Ghost Boy is, as the name suggests, a ghost story, but it is also a story of friendship, loyalty and family. Pulman moves seamlessly between past and present as she tells both Froggy and Tad’s stories in the early chapters, with the remainder of the story set in the present as Froggy and his new friend Cassie work together to help Tad and to establish the family connection between Tad and Froggy.

This is a fast moving tale which children will be drawn into, wanting to solve the mystery. The historical accuracy of the novel is also appealing, with events set in and around the Quarantine Station in Sydney. Young readers will be fascinated by this piece of history, and those in the Sydney area will be excited to know they can visit and tour the Quarantine Station.

Ghost Boy is a finely crafted adventure tale, with suitability for classroom use, but plenty of appeal for private reading for readers aged 10 to 15.

Ghost Boy, by Felicity Pulman
Random House, 2004, first published by Scholastic, 1995