Johnny Boo: The Best Little Ghost in the World

Created by: James Kochalka

ISBN: 1603090134 (Amazon)

Pages: 40

Johnny Boo: The Best Little Ghost in the World

My daughter loves books. She’s two-and-a-bit and, beyond an affection for Miyazaki films, her only truly manic love is for books. She will read them by herself but absolutely prefers to have them read to her. She’s gone through several favourites, her canon constantly in flux, but right now she seems to be on a bit of a Frog and Toad kick. I tried out Johnny Boo on her and the result was appreciation though not adulation. Mainly, she likes Squiggle well enough and enjoys the voice I give to Ice Cream Monster, but I’m not sure if Johnny Boo will ever be a go-to book in her mind.

The reason this matters, in case you were curious (since I don’t usually lead off with my daughter’s opinions on books), is that Johnny Boo finds itself pretty squarely aimed at a children’s demographic. The book is simple, short, and boasts a ridiculous sort of plot: basically two ghosts argue about their respective abilities, make up over the promise of ice cream, run into an ice cream monster, and then reservedly befriend it. It’s slight and unimportant and I probably wouldn’t have much of anything to say about the book without dragging my daughter into it.

Johnny Boo by James Kochalka

Johnny Boo features two ghostly protagonists, Johnny Boo and his pet(?) buddy Squiggle. Squiggle, a tiny white ghost shaped like a teardrop, can fly and performs incessant loop-de-loops — a gift he refers to as Squiggle Power. Johnny Boo is gravity-bound and maintains that his Boo Power (the power to say “Boo” loudly) is superior. Their shenanigans are endearing and humourous and overwrought in that way that seems to appeal to young children. A third character, Ice Cream Monster, monopolizes much of the visual real estate of the second half of the book and is characterized primarily by a) his garish pink and yellow colouring and b) his unquenchable love of ice cream (think cookie monster and then switch desserts). I wanted to punch Ice Cream Monster. (Squiggle probably would want to also but he doesn’t have hands.)

Johnny Boo by James Kochalka

The illustration is spare in that manner typical of Kochalka’s work and the pallet (until the advent of Ice Cream Monster) is almost entirely blue (for the sky) and green (for the grass and bushes) and white (for the ghosts). It’s a suitably simple look and allows the young reader to focus on what’s important in each scene.

Johnny Boo by James Kochalka

After four readings, my daughter remains noncommittal. She likes Squiggle enough to follow his antics, seemingly ignores Johnny Boo altogether, and knows what’s hidden in the pile of dirt on page 21. She might request a reading if that’s the book that happens to be in front of her but won’t go hunting over the house for the book or ask us to find it for her — as she will with any number of other books that have mysteriously wended their way into her heart(s). I don’t mind reading Johnny Boo to her like I do certain annoyances like Go Dog, Go or the revolting New Tricks I Can Do, but missing out on the adventures of Johnny Boo and Squiggle isn’t something I’ll mourn if she never requests the book again.


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I am Seth T. Hahne and these are my reviews.

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