Davy, Help! It's a Ghost! by Brigitte Weninger, Illustrated by Eve Tharlet

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Weninger, Brigitte.  Illustrated by Eve Tharlet.  Translated by J. Alison James.  2002.  DAVY, HELP!  IT'S A GHOST!  New York:  North-South Books.  ISBN: 0-7358-1687-5.

Davy, Help!  It's a Ghost!  is the ninth book in Brigitte Weninger's popular series of books about a young rabbit named Davy.  In this entry, Davy's parents are going out for the evening and leave their oldest son, Dan, in charge of his four younger siblings.  The children are having a wild evening alone, playing Toss the Bunny and having pillow fights, but when they are settling down in bed, sister Daisy sees a ghost outside.  Davy comes up with the idea to scare the ghost away by creating "Rabbit Monsters" out of pillows, broomsticks, paint, and paper.  When Mother and Father return, they are impressed at how well the children have taken care of themselves, but they sleep in the children's room that night in case the ghost returns.

At some point in their life, every child has been frightened of a monster under the bed, in the closet or outside the window, so they will relate to this story.  Davy and his brothers and sisters choosing to take action, rather than just remain in their beds, afraid, is empowering and may inspire children to confront their own fears. 

Eve Tharlet's illustrations for this book are charming.  Each of the five rabbit siblings has a distinctive look, as do Mother and Father.  The drawings of the children playing and enjoying being without parental supervision show the chaos of the situation, with the three boys having a pillow fight while sister, Daisy, plays with leaves and baby, Dinah, gorges herself on treats.  She uses shadows to convey the ghost outside that terrorizes the little bunnies and everyone knows that the monster you don't see is so much scarier than the one you do.  Her renditions of the rabbit monsters to scare away the ghost are also good, looking like something a child would create with pillows for a body, broomsticks for arms and legs, and paper and paint for a face. 

In spite of the facts that this book was originally published in Switzerland, Weninger lives in Austria, and Tharlet was born in France and grew up in Germany, Davy, Help!  It's a Ghost! shows little European influence or flavor.  These young rabbits could be American or Canadian or Australian as easily as European.  They run wild when their parents are out, just like children around the world.  They face scary ghosts and monsters at night like children around the world.  Nothing in the rabbits' home ties it to a particular location.  Even the rabbits' names, Davy, Dan, Dinah, Daisy, and Donny are not particularly European-sounding.  The only thing that might be distinctively European was that they drank raspberry juice, which is not the most common juice for children in the U.S. Although Davy, Help!  It's a Ghost! can definitely be enjoyed by children around the world, it does little to expose children to another culture or way of life. 

Works cited:
Amazon.com website.  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/product-description/B000B86S3Y/ref=dp_proddesc_0/104-8293118-3414325?%5Fencoding=UTF8&n=283155.  Accessed March 1, 2006.

by Monica Wood