Friday, 17 March 2017




My Brother's Ghost
Cover by Gillian Tyler

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Written by Allan Ahlberg
Published by Penguin Books Ltd, 2000

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I have a habit of buying books because I love the cover, and this is why I picked up this delightful, hand-sized short story.

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Gillian Tyler’s cover is whimsical, light and airy. Her hand-lettering sits comfortably alongside her ink work, the variety of 
mark-making adding a sense of movement that is supported by the softly tinted, subtle colour.

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It is lovely to see a cover for a ghost story that doesn’t emphasise the spooky element of haunting, and this reflects the feeling of the tale itself. Ahlberg’s ghost is Tom, the ten year old brother of troubled narrator, Frances, and her younger brother, Harry. The orphaned siblings have a bleak existence in 1950 England, and life with their unsympathetic aunt is made all the harder once the protective Tom has died. Luckily, Tom comes back to help the younger children through tough times. 

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Ahlberg keeps the tale so grounded in the everyday, that the presence of a ghost seems almost matter of fact. Take these two sentences describing Tom’s funeral:

‘And it was cold, I remember that, the low November sunlight glittering on the wet headstones. There was the sound of traffic from the road, the rumble of the presses in the nearby Creda factory.


It was Harry who saw him first. He grabbed my sleeve but said nothing. I looked… and there was Tom. He had his hands in his pockets, his jacket collar up. His hair was uncombed, as wild as ever. And he was leaning against a tree.’

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You can judge this book by its cover. It is gentle, warm and touching. 


Do look up more of Gillian Tyler’s work. It is beautiful. 


www.gilliantyler.co.uk

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