This book has readers stepping back in time, to 1884 in Lyttelton, New Zealand. We meet Elise a young pioneering girl who was one of the last to see two boys who die crossing the Port Hills.
Māori mythology featuring patupaiarehe or fairies adds to the atmospheric feel of this story “Their skin is white, the colour of the clouds on a fine day, and they are able to get up close to you – very close – before you realise that the shapes in front and behind and either side of you are not clouds but fairies in disguise”.
Fact, fiction and newspaper extracts are woven together, with the author’s notes at the end giving insights to how facts are woven into the story. Tragically Davie and Archie, two real boys did perish on the Port Hills in 1883 and their memorials are placed on the Rapaki Track.
The story moves along quickly with short chapters and at just 75 pages long, this is not an intimidating read, one I think would be perfect for developing readers, a class read aloud or readers wanting a quick read.
Title: The Ghosts on the Hill
Author: Bill Nagelkerke
Illustrator: Theo Macdonald
Publisher: AHOY! The Cuba Press (you can read an excerpt here)
Publication: July 2020
Do you have any advisory warnings for this book? This book deals with ghosts and the death of two young boys, dying due to exposure, some young readers might be sensitive to these topics.
Reviewer: Louana McCormack, Librarian, Opaheke School, Auckland
How are you recommending this book? Recommended
What’s the book’s opening sentence? The year is 1884. The day is Thursday, 3 April.
You can buy this book here