A Wee Boo
A Wee Boo
You know what’s not scary? Cute. Cute
is not scary. And that’s why Boo had
such a hard time getting a haunting
license. A haunting license is a little
card that ghosts carry around. Getting a
haunting license is a BIG deal. It means
you’re a PROPER ghost.
Conforming to the expectations of those around us is what we all face. For many, this is not difficult because the expectations are what most people learn to become satisfied with. For some, however, conforming causes conflict within. When the person inside does not fit inside the box society expects, a struggle begins. The pressure to conform to societal expectations wrestles against the desire to be who one really is. Being true to oneself can lead to unexpected paths.
Wee Boo is a ghost the size of a cantaloupe. If this is not bad enough, Boo has another strike against her – she’s too cute to be a ghost. No one can be scared of a tiny, cute ghost. And yet this is a ghost’s job – to be scary enough to cause fear. Boo needs to scare someone in order to earn her haunting license. Without this license, she cannot be a proper ghost.
Wee Boo has failed the final exam twice. On her first attempt at scaring a dog, the dog bowled her over, began to lick Boo and wag its tail. On her second try, Boo, herself, was scared when the movie a couple is watching caused her to hide behind the couch doily. Such failure has never happened before in the history of haunting. Most ghosts pass on the first or second try. Only Boo has to be given a third try. The instructors lower their expectations; she can pass if she can elicit a gasp or even a “Whoa!”
Despairing and discouraged, Wee Boo finds it difficult to remain hopeful. Deep inside, Boo already has doubts as to whether her being a proper ghost is even possible. She wonders if she might…what? There is nothing else for a ghost to do but haunt. She gathers together her remaining resolve and is determined to succeed this time. She is given a photograph of the family she is to haunt. She uses her scariest voice, but the couple think they hear a baby animal nearby. She tries pushing a door to make creepy creaking noises, but she is not strong enough to make it move. Even the cat is complacent at her efforts to freak it out. Finally, Wee Boo discovers that the couple have a baby. Babies are easy to frighten, right? But the baby begins to chortle and laugh. Now Boo is entertaining the baby as she continues her haunting tactics. But then the parents, who cannot see Boo, arrive and are weirded out at seeing their baby rolling around and laughing for no apparent reason. When the father finally says, “Whoa, that’s kind of creepy,” Wee Boo is transported back to ghost school and quickly graduated. Everyone is relieved.
Everyone except for Wee Boo that is. She has learned that there is something more fun than being a ghost. She takes the first step towards accepting how different she is by leaving the haunting community and taking up a new career. She has found her niche. She will be an imaginary friend who entertains and becomes a companion to the chortling baby as she rolls, then sits, and finally stands and learns to play.
A Wee Boo is a charming story because it is easy to empathize with the protagonist. Failure and discouragement are common experiences we all face. Trying to please those around you and to meet their expectations are things everyone lives with. Boo’s attempts at frightening animals and people are humorous and guaranteed to make more than babies smile. The delightful illustrations are digitally created on an iPad Pro with the addition of scanned textures, traditional watercolor washes and paper collage. The result is pleasing to the eye and adds so much to the enjoyment of the tale.
The conflict in A Wee Boo is believable and realistic. While humans are not trying to earn their haunting license, we are trying to achieve acceptance by those around us. Most of us learn to accept ourselves for who we are even if it means standing up against what others hope for us. The language used in the book is easily understood by young readers and is age appropriate.
Karina Wiebenga is an educator in Burnaby, British Columbia