A Bad Case of Ghosts


64 pages
ISBN 0-590-51750-3
DDC jC813'.54





Illustrations by Sam Sisco
Reviewed by Deborah Dowson

Deborah Dowson is a Canadian children’s librarian in North Wales,


Giles Barnes first meets the local neighborhood geniuses, Kevin and Tina
Quark, when they begin investigating ghost activity around his new
house. Barnes thinks the noises he heard the night before were only his
imagination, but when he sees evidence to support his suspicion that his
house is haunted, he calls on “the Brains” to help him. Tina’s
invention, the “ghostometer,” confirms Barnes’s suspicion, but it
doesn’t solve the problem of how to make the dozens of ghost birds and
their old lady owner go away. In fact, it is not the Quarks at all who
solve the problem, but rather Barnes, whose keen powers of observation
and common sense find an appropriate solution to “a bad case of

In A Strange Case of Magic, the second book in the Barnes and the
Brains series, the threesome come to the aid of an invisible magician.
Vikram Kapoor failed to rematerialize after making himself invisible at
his first magic show. When incantations and Tina’s energy-ray
invention prove useless, it occurs to Barnes that lack of confidence is
what is keeping Mr. Kapoor invisible. With some encouragement and
inspiration from Barnes, Kapoor regains his lost confidence and becomes
visible again.

These elementary-level chapter books are perfect for the beginning
independent reader. Interest-grabbing action begins with the first page,
and the mystery and suspense of the problems to be solved carry the
reader through to the end. The amusing characters, with their
distinctive personalities, are drawn simply but fully and the author
makes use of a rich and varied vocabulary. All of these elements unite
to create a very appealing new series. Highly recommended.


Oppel, Kenneth., “A Bad Case of Ghosts,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/21417.