About this Recording
NA0054 - JESSIMAN, A.: Clumsy Ghost and Other Spooky Tales (The) (Unabridged)

The Clumsy Ghost and Other Spooky Tales
by Alastair Jessiman and others


Two of the greatest classic ghost stories are read all over the world by children: Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost and Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. They have been made into films and plays and set to music. They are available in cartoon books, illustrated books and audiobooks. So it is surprising to realise that they are (as far as I know) virtually the only classic ghost stories that appeal to younger readers (as well as older ones, of course!).

What happened? Why didn’t a genre develop in the 19th and early 20th centuries? Did our great classic writers miss a trick? There have been lots of magical tales in recent years, from Edith Nesbit, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien all the way through to J.K. Rowling, but few enduring stories to match A Christmas Carol. And ghost stories are so good to listen to, even better than to read on the page perhaps!

Over the years, Naxos AudioBooks has released quite a few collections of ghost stories—by Ambrose Bierce, Guy de Maupassant, M.R. James, Edgar Allan Poe, Saki, O. Henry and many others. But they were almost always for adults.

One day, I was talking to David Blake, sales manager of Naxos AudioBooks in the UK. He has a particular interest in ghost stories and has made various compilations for us. He mentioned that for some years, during the Christmas holidays, he, his wife and his two daughters each wrote a ghost story which they would then read aloud to the family, and over the years they had amassed quite a collection.

That prompted the idea for a new collection of ghost stories for junior listeners, and I asked to see some of David’s stories. He sent me Unable to Connect, a ghost story with a modern setting and a very modern object—a mobile phone. When I read it, I got a slightly chilling feeling: it worked! So I started to approach other writers, some of whom had written for Naxos AudioBooks in the past. My proposal was simple: that they write a ghost story for 8–13-year-olds, of between 2,500 and 3,500 words. Many had a go: some stories worked, some stories didn’t, and some writers admitted defeat! It wasn’t as easy as they had thought.

Alastair Jessiman has written a series of funny and even macabre radio plays for BBC Radio 4 (including a series devoted to a psychic detective) but could he write for a younger audience? With The Clumsy Ghost he showed his natural ability. Anna Britten worked for the Naxos AudioBooks office just after she left Oxford University, and went on to become a journalist and writer, successful in short story competitions and published by Bloomsbury. She has a young son and lives in Bath, which is partly why her story By The Hot Green Water feels so authentic!

Roy McMillan features prominently on Naxos AudioBooks as an outstanding reader (he has read Don Quixote, A Dog’s Heart and many others), producer (he has directed scores of major productions and radio plays) and abridger. He has also written Pirates! in our junior non-fiction range, and he decided to go back to the subject for his shivery tale The Stillness.

Edward Ferrie was the first writer to produce new texts for Naxos AudioBooks: he is the author of Tales from the Greek Legends and Tales from the Norse Legends, both of which remain among the label’s bestsellers. An English teacher in Newcastle who also teaches judo (he was a member of the British judo team), he knows the world of sport well, and The Piper Boy draws on his experience in this field. A few days after his story arrived by email, another Ferrie text arrived unannounced: The Weeping Tree by his sister, Margaret Ferrie, a school inspector who also writes…and I suddenly found that the two CDs were rapidly becoming full up. There was room for just one more story: The Book of Imhotep by David Angus, the author of many of our junior non-fiction texts. He had just finished writing The Glory of the Pharaohs, and he returned to this theme for his ghost story.

This was how this entertaining collection came together. Our five talented readers came into the studio and we had a lot of fun reading the stories; they were then edited, with music added by Sarah Butcher…and here we have it, an unusual collection of ghost stories for younger listeners written especially for audiobook.

I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as we have all enjoyed creating them. I am sure Mr Wilde and Mr Dickens would have approved!

Notes by Nicolas Soames

The music on this recording is taken from the NAXOS catalogue

DEBUSSY Images 8.550505
BRT Philharmonic Orchestra (Brussels); Alexander Rahbari, conductor

DEBUSSY Orchestral Works Vol 1 8.570759
Lyon National Orchestra; Jun Märkl, conductor

ELGAR Falstaff, The Sanguine Fan 8.553879
English Northern Philharmonia; David Lloyd-Jones, conductor

GLAZUNOV Orchestral Works Vol 13 8.554293
Moscow Symphony Orchestra; Alexander Anissimov, conductor

RESPIGHI Symphonic Poems 8.550539
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Enrique Bátiz, conductor

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Battle Music 8.550230
CSR Symphony Orchestra; Ondrej Lenard, conductor

Music programming by Sarah Butcher

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