Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
The Bagpiper's Ghost
Jane Yolen
Harcourt, 129 pages

Gustaf Fjelstrom
The Bagpiper's Ghost
Jane Yolen
Jane Yolen has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the 20th century because of her many fairy tales and story books. She has written over 150 books for children, young adults and adults, along with hundreds of stories and poems. She's a past-president of SFWA and has been a member of the Board of Directors of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) since its inception.

Jane Yolen Website ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Sister Emily's Lightship
SF Site Review: The Wizard's Map
SF Site Review: Armageddon Summer
SF Site Review: Here There Be Dragons
SF Site Review: The Sea Man
SF Site Review: Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast
SF Site Review: The Transfigured Hart

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Twins Jennifer and Peter are visiting their grandparents in Scotland. They've already discovered that in Scotland, magic practically drips from the air, and the twins are susceptible to it, getting into all sorts of adventures. In this volume, the talking dog that lives with them leads them to a graveyard, where he tells them about the Lady in White. She's a ghost who pines for the love of her life, who never came back from the war. The twins sneak out at midnight to see if she appears, and Peter is possessed with the ghost of The Lady's brother, who refuses to let her go to the ghost of the man she would have married, a bagpiper whose keening music hold a key to the mystery. The dog knows more than he lets on, and Jennifer and her Grandmother must solve the mystery of what the brother wants before Jennifer loses her brother to the ghost forever.

I've been told for years that Jane Yolen is an amazing and charming writer. Even though I only visited her world for the space of little over a hundred pages, I agree. I would place the age of The Bagpiper's Ghost as pre-teen, despite the fact that Jennifer does cuss the dog once. One of the treats in this book is the treasury of Scottish words, as indexed in the back of the book and used throughout. It ought to make for fun reading aloud to younger children, and the addition to the dialogue and the richness of the dialect helps set a sharp sense of place and character in a few words.

Jennifer makes for an admirable heroine. She's a very sensible 13 year old, dealing with the fact that now, hitting their teens, she and Peter may not be so close as they once where. She is also the mystical lightening rod of the pair. Peter is the usual exasperating boy, who comes through with some very funny moments. He desperately wants to experience magic, but thus far events have conspired to make this a non-event.

The dog is actually one of the more interesting characters. He has a thick accent, where he joyfully hides insults showing his doubt of the twin's intellect. He is very dog-like, competitive and snobbish one moment, whining and wanting attention the next. He is not the only magical animal; there is a horse named Thunder, a brave and steadfast creature. Gran rounds out the main cast. The Dog calls her a carlin, or witch, but she is much more a scholar. She, too, has the amazing accent, but the tone is different, much more, well, grandmotherly.

I adore Scotland, and am always looking for good books with a Scottish setting to allow me to visit mentally. The Bagpiper's Ghost fulfills that wish, focusing on the magic and ghostliness and creating a world as creepy as it is magical.

Copyright © 2002 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide