Annie and her mother don’t really understand one another. Annie likes to look at picture books and imagine and sketch pictures; she doesn’t care about schoolwork. Her mother believes in facts and lists and academic success.
Claire and her mother don’t see things the same way either. Claire’s mother is an artist, and she loves living in a lighthouse near the ocean in Newfoundland. Claire misses her home in the city, and she wants to pursue her education in a good school back in the city.
Annie and Claire, however, do share some things in common. They’re both about the same age, and they both believe in ghosts.
When Claire and Annie meet, Claire thinks Annie is the ghost of her dead sister, also named Annie. And Annie knows she is not a ghost, but why is she able to enter into an old painting and talk to Claire, a girl who lives in a different time? Does the painting have anything to with Annie’s mom’s car accident and the coma that she is struggling to emerge from?
The Painting is a convoluted, time-slip, mother/daughter ghost story that kept me guessing until the very end. Is one of the two girls a ghost from the past or from the future? Did Claire’s sister, Annie, die in an accident, and was she reincarnated as a present day Annie? Or is Annie’s mom in the hospital really Claire’s mom, too, or Annie-who-died’s mom or only Annie’s mom or what? As long as you’re OK with ghostly time travel and very short chapters that change perspective back and forth from Annie to Claire and back to Annie again, this book is a winner. I didn’t like the quick perspective changes, but I did enjoy the story in spite of them.
If you like this book, there are several other middle grade ghost stories you might want to check out:
The Swallow: A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter.
The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston, and its sequels.
Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce.
The Court of the Stone Children by Eleanor Cameron.
The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co., #1) by Jonathan Stroud, and sequels.
The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage
The Saracen Lamp by Ruth M. Arthur.
Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett.
The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn by Dorothy Hoobler.
Grave Images by Jenny Goebel.
Locked Doors: A Pameroy Mystery in Wisconsin by Brenda Felber. Part of a series of ghostly mystery stories that will eventually include one mystery ghost story set in each of the fifty states. Pameroy Mystery series.