Hardly Haunted, by Jessie Sima, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, July 20, 2021, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-8)
When a house wants to find a family, she’ll stop at nothing to become a little more welcoming in Jessie Sima’s Hardly Haunted.
House has a problem.
She’s a little spooky. She’s a little cobwebby. Oh, no! What if she’s haunted?
She’s not sure, but…her hinges creak. Her pipes bang. And on windy days, the branches scritch-scratch at her windows. She tries to hold her breath and be as still as possible. If she’s on her best behavior, maybe a family will move in.
How will House ever find a family that doesn’t mind being haunted? —Synopsis provided by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Hardly Haunted is a sweet story about a house that wants to belong. Young readers will immediately identify with the feelings of loneliness and the desire for friendship. The idea that we don’t need to change to find happiness is clear but not heavy-handed way.
Author/illustrator Jessie Sima’s text is clear and concise, pairing perfectly with her emotive house. Kids will especially like her use of onomatopoeia. Her stylized illustrations are sure to entice readers.
One of the great things about Hardly Haunted is that it’s not centered specifically on Halloween. Sure, it’s perfect for that season, but children can enjoy it year-round. And Sima’s use of pastel tones helps create a friendlier tone while still being spooky.
The publisher’s suggested age range for Hardly Haunted is 4-8. I feel it skews younger and would suggest 2-6, perhaps 7 if the child is reading to a younger sibling.