Fiction, Graphic Novel, November 2019

Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist by David Almond

Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist by David Almond. September 10, 2019. Candlewick, 80 p. ISBN: 9781536201604.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

There’s a poltergeist in Joe Quinn’s house, and Davie is determined to discover its source in this lively, hopeful graphic storybook from David Almond and Dave McKean.

Joe Quinn has been telling everyone about the poltergeist in his house, but no one believes him. No one, that is, except Davie. Davie’s felt the inexplicable presence in the Quinns’ house and seen random objects fly through the air. And there’s something else . . . a memory of Davie’s beloved sister and a feeling deep down that it might just be possible for ghosts to exist. Full of thoughts of hauntings and grief and God, Davie hovers on a precipice of uncertainty and possibility, a space that storyteller David Almond occupies comfortably and returns to again and again — here paired once more with the dynamic, dreamlike mixed-media art of Dave McKean.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Underage drinking, Underage smoking

 

Reviews

Booklist (July 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 21))
Grades 7-10. During a school holiday, Joe Quinn won’t stop talking about the poltergeist that’s haunting his house: breaking windows, smashing dishes—typical ghost mischief. His latest update to Geordie and unbelieving Davie (the story’s narrator) ends with an invitation to dinner, so they can see the poltergeist in action. To Davie’s dismay, Geordie accepts, and the friends convene at the Quinns’ table for an oppressively bizarre meal, where chips and slices of buttered bread periodically fly through the air and noises crash from upstairs. By the end of the visit, the pair’s positions have reversed, with Geordie convinced Joe is behind everything, and Davie feeling shaken and entertaining the possibility that the specter is real. This throws Joe into an existential funk, expertly rendered in McKean’s dark, mixed-media illustrations, where overlapping, scribbled sketches embody confusion and conflict, jarring collages evoke an unsettled atmosphere, and negative space echoes absence and haunting memories. Joe navigates his inner turmoil, including grief and religious confusion, forming earnest revelations about life’s poltergeists (i.e., disruptions) and finding peace.

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 15, 2019)
A newly illustrated edition of Almond’s psychologically acute tale of ghosts and grief in a small British town. Originally published in the autobiographical Half a Creature From the Sea (2015), the atmospheric narrative is placed within equally shadowed, evocative scenes, sepia sketches alternating with painterly, often nightmarishly jumbled portraits or visions. Wounded souls battling tides of anger and loss abound: from inwardly focused narrator Davie, still hurting in the wake of his baby sister’s death, to the people around him, notably Joe Quinn, a mercurial youth with a dad in jail, a giddy mum, and, he claims, a household poltergeist. In the end the author leaves it to readers to decide whether the “ghost” is real or just Joe, but after a vicious fight with Joe followed by a bit of shared moon-gazing, Davie’s initial skepticism is transformed to a deeper feeling that has something of empathy to it: “I know the poltergeist is all of us, raging and wanting to scream and to fight and to start flinging stuff; to smash and to break.” The art amplifies the characteristically dark, rich tones of Almond’s prose all the way to a final Dylan Thomas–style promise that “the world and all that’s in it will continue to…hold us in its darkness and its light.” The cast is a presumed white one. A keen collaboration moving seamlessly between worlds inner and outer, natural and supernatural. (Graphic novella. 12-16)

About the Author

David Almond is a British children’s writer who has penned several novels, each one to critical acclaim. He was born and raised in Felling and Newcastle in post-industrial North East England and educated at the University of East Anglia. When he was young, he found his love of writing when some short stories of his were published in a local magazine. He started out as an author of adult fiction before finding his niche writing literature for young adults.

His works are highly philosophical and thus appeal to children and adults alike. Recurring themes throughout include the complex relationships between apparent opposites (such as life and death, reality and fiction, past and future); forms of education; growing up and adapting to change; the nature of ‘the self’. He has been greatly influenced by the works of the English Romantic poet William Blake.

Almond currently lives with his family in Northumberland, England. His website is www.davidalmond.com.

Around the Web

Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist on Amazon

Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist on Barnes and Noble

Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist on Goodreads

Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist on LibraryThing

Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist Publisher Page

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