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Jack and the Ghost

2019
Author:

Chan Poling
Illustrations by Lucy Michell

Jack and the Ghost

A gothic, lyrical evocation of a shipwreck, ghosts, and lost—and found—love in a North Shore town

Jack and the Ghost is a gorgeously illustrated meditation on grief and loss, a poignant reminder to not let the ghosts of the past control the present.

Jeremy Messersmith

Jack Cooper, last in a long family line of fishermen, lives alone in the remote North Shore town of Greyshore, haunted by grief. But he will discover what it means to be truly haunted when a ghostly woman appears to lure him to land’s end, to the beckoning waves that have broken his heart. In a tale weird and whimsical, as familiar as folklore and as strange as life itself, musical artists Chan Poling and Lucy Michell create a world where even the most hardened soul has to see that grief may be tough, but life is tougher.

As Jack’s childhood friend, the loyal and endlessly optimistic Red, tries to counter the ghost’s allure, the story exerts its own charm, guiding us through a landscape of prose and pictures at once irreverent and dead serious. Though the book’s surreal seduction might call to mind the likes of Wes Anderson, Edward Gorey, or the Decemberists, it is, finally, Poling and Michell’s singular accomplishment, an enchanting imaginative leap into life’s haunted depths.

Jack and the Ghost

Chan Poling is a founding member of the seminal New Wave rock group The Suburbs and the popular jazz/cabaret trio The New Standards. His work in theater includes scores for the Tony Award-winning troupe Theatre de la Jeune Lune and the Ivey Award-winning Glensheen. He has been reviewed, featured, and lauded in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Time Magazine, Vogue, and Rolling Stone, among many others.

Lucy Michell is a musician and artist whose illustrations can be found on countless band posters, album covers, kids’ menus, and even T-shirts for Target. She has written and performed with Twin Cities darlings Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles, pop rock crew Little Fevers, and in collaboration with Chan Poling and John Munson.

Jack and the Ghost

Jack and the Ghost is a gorgeously illustrated meditation on grief and loss, a poignant reminder to not let the ghosts of the past control the present.

Jeremy Messersmith

Finally, a book with pictures that can put a waterproof mascara through its paces.

Dessa

Jack and the Ghost is a book with readers who need it—they’re waiting for this book. It does its job with simplicity, charm, and beauty.

Arthur Phillips, New York Times Notable Book winner and international best-selling novelist

Chan Poling and Lucy Michell have put together a gorgeous little book featuring deep loss, the rebirth of life, and lush illustrations that remind me of Ludwig Bemelmans's art for the Madeline series.

Geoff Herbach, author of Stupid Fast

Jack and the Ghost is a haunting tale of lost love and the depths we will go to find it. Jack Cooper seems to have lost everything, but those who love him tell him, with tenderness and strength, tell him he needs to live his life, be a part of the world. This journey from despair to love renewed is, in the end, uplifting, and we are left with hope. In truth, this is a perfect story for all ages.

Julie Poling, Red Balloon Bookshop