I bought ‘The Ghost on Saturday Night’ at a book fair in 1978. I can pinpoint the germ of many of my obsessions to the moment I finished this book. My fascination with post civil war America, séances and spiritualism, hucksters and snake-oil salesman all began here, a fact that never occurred to me until I pulled this book off my shelf today.
Published in 1974 by the prolific and quirky Sid Fleischman, who was part of A great late 60s and early 70s renaissance of innovative kids book writers. If you dig Fleischman, check out the work of Daniel Pinkwater, Tomi Ungerer, and Barbara Emberly.
The Ghost on Saturday Night is the tale of young Opie who lives with his curmudgeonly Aunt Etta. Opie has his heart set on saving up for a saddle for a horse his aunt will provide once he has the dough. Opie has carved out quite a niche for himself in Golden Hill, California. Seems his elevated olfactory and aural skills come in quite handy in a town plagued by sight reducing fog. One night a Professor Pepper comes to town bringing his ghost-raising act for one night only. In exchange for leading him to his hotel after a haircut Professor Pepper gives him and Aunt Etta free tickets to see him raise the ghost of the nefarious Crookneck John from the nether world.
I am not going to spoil the ending for those of you who want to seek out this spooky classic.
Read it for yourself, or turn on the 7 to 12 year old in your life to a great ghostly tale.