The Goanna Island Mystery, by Dale Harcombe

Reviewed by Delwyne Stephens

Leo doesn’t believe in ghosts, and when a bully challenges him to investigate the haunted Goanna Island he doesn’t expect to find a ghostly presence in a mysterious room that seems to have no entrance.

This simply told story had enough suspense to keep my 6 and 8 year old enthralled as I read it aloud to them. They enjoyed the build up of tension, as Leo first goes to the haunted island alone on a dare, sees what seems to be a ghost and then gets trapped on the island by the rising tide.

The illustrations for the story were an unusual combination of line drawings for Leo and heavier lino-print like drawings for later, scarier scenes in the story.

As with all the books in the Aussie School Books series this one is appropriately leveled for capable seven year olds to struggling older primary readers while losing none of its reader appeal. The story holds enough interest and suspense for children in these age groups and demonstrates values such as courage and resourcefulness.

The Goanna Island Mystery, by Dale Harcombe
Aussie School Books, 2008