J. Le Pooch & the Haunted Inn
J. Le Pooch & the Haunted Inn
Millie jerked. “Had she actually fallen asleep at the table?” she wondered, somewhat abashed. When she turned her head to get a better look, she caught a white blur leaving the dining room. Her skin began to prickle. She was certain it was the same girl she and P.J. had spotted on the inn’s veranda a few days earlier. She jumped up. “Will you please excuse Cassandre and me? We’d like to stretch our legs.” Cassandre looked grateful as she followed her friend from the room.
In the lobby, Millie grabbed Cassandre’s arm. “Did you see that girl waving to me in the dining room?”
“What girl?” Two small furrows appeared between Cassandre’s eyebrows.
“That one!” Millie pointed to a girl dressed in white, who was gesturing for them to follow her down the long hallway. “Brr,” said Cassandre with a shiver as they hurried down the long hallway. It’s really draughty in this part of the inn.”
“There she is!” cried Millie, “She’s waiting for us in that alcove.”
“I don’t see anyone,” said Cassandre. “Just a sort of shimmering. Oh wait...yes, I see her now....sort of. It looks like a girl, in a white dress.”
When they arrived at the alcove, there she was, indistinct at first, almost transparent. But the longer they stood there, the more distinct she became, until a solid girl was standing before them, a solemn expression on her face.
In this sequel to P. J. le Pooch and the Magic Sketchbook, (Vol. XXIII, No. 30, April 14, 2017), readers are reacquainted with 12-year-old Millie, her friend Cassandre and loveable canine P.J., the latter endowed with vast quantities of doggy kindness, intelligence and understanding. Out walking P.J., Millie glimpses a young girl on the verandah of a local inn, a girl whose appearance and age are similar to hers. Millie and cohorts soon deduce that, although the girl, Caroline, does not realize it, she is a ghost searching for her family. Using clues from Caroline’s clothing, her descriptions of summers at the inn and small details about her family, the threesome turn detective. Exploring local graves, library archives and a family bible, they trace Caroline’s past to the 1890s, and she finally finds peace.
Set in the Eastern townships of Quebec, and with a text, peppered with French phrases, the background to P.J. le Pooch & the Haunted Inn is appealing and authentic. The story moves at a feverish pace with various subplots. The team of sleuths also captures a thief who steals from local stores (including that of Millie’s family) and saves a woman from drowning who, surprise, surprise, is related to both Millie and ghost Caroline. Throw in a few adult love interests, a minor dognapping episode, the annual Duck Festival and the mysterious Lola Lamour, there is no dearth of tension, but somehow all the pieces tie together quite satisfactorily and conveniently.
Though Millie and her friend are positive role models, Millie is perhaps a little dauntingly perfect for a 12- year-old with so many practical abilities and unhesitating determination. P.J is also a dog extraordinaire as he ‘works’ at the store comforting the lonely or drawing the girls’ attention to important clues. However, they all focus on doing the right thing and are resourceful with plenty of initiative. The story goes along at a fast clip and is hard to put down. P.J. le Pooch & the Haunted Inn will be a popular read and is recommended for public, school and individual libraries.
Aileen Wortley is a retired children’s librarian from Toronto, Ontario.