Marion Dane Bauer (text) and Trina Schart Hyman (illustration), Ghost Eye (Scholastic, Inc. 1992)

Ghost Eye, written by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, is a short story-length, charmingly told tale of ghosts, cat shows and lonely little girls -- pretty much in that order. The book contains only 82 pages of rather large print. I would imagine its intended audience is girls of around 7 or 8 who are just beginning to read books for themselves. However, anyone who enjoys a bit of whimsy and ghosts or cats would be bound to enjoy this little book.

The book's protagonist is Purrloom Popcorn, a Cornish Rex who lives for cat shows. Interestingly, he wins loads of ribbons, despite having one blue eye and one golden eye. Popcorn doesn't realize it at first, but his blue eye is a magic eye, which enables him to see ghosts both human and feline. Cornish Rex are a relatively rare breed, with unusual curly coats and whiskers (An informative profile can be found here ).

Purrloom was bred by Lydia, who was very old when he was born. Lydia tells him one day that she has to go away, but that they'll be together "in just a little while". It is obvious to the reader that Lydia has had to go to a nursing home. After several years of Popcorn's waiting for his "old woman," he overhears that Lydia has died and that he is being sent "home." Of course, home isn't familiar to Popcorn anymore and is inhabited by Lydia's great nephew and his family (the young daughter, of course, has always longed for a cat).  And although Lydia is dead she hasn't completely gone away -- the book is titled Ghost Eye, after all.

To say anymore would be to reveal too much -- although the story doesn't particularly rely on surprise. The ghosts in the book are not very threatening, despite what Popcorn thinks at first. It's really just a sweet story about a lonely old lady who loved cats and a lonely little girl who would like to have a cat to love. The illustrations are fun as well, especially if one likes pictures of cats. I loved reading this book and have recommended it to friends and family of all ages.

Trina Schart Hyman has deservedly won many awards for her illustrations. Here is a biographical link to her work, and this link focuses on awards and a bit of art review. Marion Dane Bauer has also written several award winning books for children and some books for teens with more adult themes. A couple of links for her are this one at Random House and this one at the Main Street Middle School Web site.

One of the funnier things in the book can be found in the little blurbs about author and illustrator. Bauer breeds Cornish Rex cats and owns the real Purrloom Popcorn. In her little informative paragraph, Hyman says that one of the most difficult things about illustrating the book was "to make the Cornish Rex, an unbelievably hideous-looking animal, charming and appealing." I wonder what Ms. Bauer thought of that? No accounting for taste, I guess.

[Andrea S. Garrett]