Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.

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"I'm afraid all such beliefs are just fantasies. Ghosts, poltergeists, the lot. They make a good story, that's all. And feed a peculiar appetite for the supernatural that some people have. But there's absolutely no scientific evidence for their existence at all: it's been proven time and again. They always turn out to have some simple explanation, or to be the product of someone's enlarged imagination."

The Ghost of Thomas Kempe

Carnegie winner: 1973
Author: Penelope Lively

Change exerts itself immediately in the opening passage of The Ghost of Thomas Kempe as an ancient bottle is dislodged from its hiding place, shattering upon the ground.  From this moment on, with what is unleashed, the world of protagonist James begins to shift...

Having moved to an old cottage in the village of Ledsham, James enjoys a carefree life in the house and its gardens where he loses himself amid games of make-belief, climbing trees and play.  A number of minor disturbances, initially in the house, but gradually reaching further and further beyond, begin to intrude upon James's lifestyle.

Thomas Kempe, a Seventeenth Century sorcerer practiced in the arts of 'sorcerie, astrologie, geomancie, alchemie' leaves all manner of notes, advice and warnings to James, determined that he should become his new apprentice.  This leads to innumerable problems for James as he tries to find a way to better contain the spirit’s influence of even to banish it, often with disastrous consequences.

There’s an understated humour in the collisions that occur between the decidedly different world views that James and Thomas Kempe hold.  Belying its moments of comedy runs a more reflective quality to the story with its sense of movement, of time passing and advances happening.  Questions are raised around the challenges that occur in being equal to that and the dangers of leading a half-life and living within a nether-world if that fails.  Intriguing, funny and playful, this is also a book that is likely to leave readers thinking long beyond its final pages.

Uncertainty, humour and playful imagination combine to make this a fresh, engaging and entertaining read with profound comments about the nature of memory and of time.


adventure / ghost / magic / mischief / poltergeist /


Why we chose this book ...

"We decided to adopt this book because it looks like a really good ghost story. Scary but also full of exciting adventure as well"