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A Ghost in My Suitcase - Gabrielle Wang

Paperback Published: 2nd February 2009
ISBN: 9780143303794
Number Of Pages: 192
For Ages: 6 - 12 years old

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Best Children's Novel : 2010 Aurealis Awards

Product Description

The flute music stops, and my breath catches in my throat. Silence falls like a veil. Then I hear something - no, I feel it in my chest. 'Steady yourself,' Por Por whispers. 'It's here . . . '

When Celeste travels to China to visit her grandmother, she uncovers an incredible family secret. And with this secret comes danger and adventure.

If Celeste is to save her family and friends, she must learn to harness her rare and powerful gift as a ghost-hunter. . .

From the award-winning author of The Garden of Empress Cassia

About The Author

Gabrielle Wang is an author and illustrator born in Melbourne of Chinese heritage. Her great grandfather came to Victoria during the Gold Rush. In her twenties she went in search of her roots, living in both China and Taiwan where she studied Chinese language and painting. Her stories are a blend of Chinese and Western culture with a touch of fantasy.

Gabrielle's novel The Garden of Empress Cassia won the 2002 Aurealis Award, was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards and was a CBC Notable Book. The Pearl of Tiger Bay was shortlisted for the 2004 Aurealis Award and The Lion Drummer was named a Notable Book in the 2009 CBC Book of the Year Awards.

Gabrielle's latest novel, A Ghost in My Suitcase, was released in 2009.

Her first young adult novel, Little Paradise, an epic love story set during World War Two in Melbourne and Shanghai, will be published in 2010.

Gabrielle lives in Melbourne with her partner, Steve, and their two children, Lei Lei and Ren.

The Silver Bird

Hey there, Mama

Beautiful bird in the sky

How is your heart today?

There's a bridge that stretches to the Isle of Clouds and back

One thousand white cranes heading north

You and me on that bridge, almost home

I'm a bird. I'm flying so high.

Maybe from up here I can see the Isle of Clouds.

I've been overseas once before . . . when I was three. That was to Tasmania with Mama and Papa. Robbie hadn't been born yet.

My memories are fuzzy as if they're frozen inside a giant iceberg.

I remember a potoroo in a carpark. A silver streak in a stream. An upside-down mountain in a lake.

And I remember swinging between Mama and Papa's arms.

Papa said Mama is in heaven. But my little brother, Robbie, said they wouldn't let her in because she's never been to church.

I see Mama on a golden boat, sailing towards the Isle of Clouds where our ancestors came from.

That's a nice picture in my mind. I'm going to keep it there forever.

My name is Celeste LaClaire. I am twelve years old. I have dark brown eyes and long skinny arms and legs. I got the dark bits from my mum, who is Chinese, and the long skinny bits from my dad, who's French. Papa met Mama when he was studying Chinese painting in Shanghai. They got married and came to Australia. That's where I was born.

Mama said I look like my Chinese grandma, who I'm on my way to visit. I call her Por Por, which means 'grandma on your mum's side' in Chinese. In China, everyone in your family has a special name. It's like being part of a big jigsaw puzzle. You always know where you belong, and who you belong to.

Before Mama died I felt as if I could wrap up the day and put it in my pocket and know exactly what it was going to be like the next morning. But now I feel trapped, as if I'm in a giant spiderweb. The more I struggle, the tighter the web gets, until my heart is squeezed so tight I can hardly breathe.

In the hallway of our house is a big camphorwood chest. It's full of bright, colourful silk dresses from China. Mama was supposed to wear one of those dresses at her wedding. But she wore a white wedding dress instead. Por Por said in China, white is only worn at funerals. But Mama didn't care. Sometimes I climb inside that big old chest and lie very still. I love the smell of camphor, the quiet rustle of the silk, the cool touch against my skin. And as I lie there, some of the pain goes away.

There's a photo on the hall table. Por Por is standing beside a rock as tall as a man. It's wrinkly like an old paper bag and as holey as Swiss cheese. Mama said the rock comes from the bottom of Lake Taihu, a very special lake in the south of China. There's something weird about that rock, though. Por Por has her arm looped through one of the holes, and her head is tilted towards it as if she's sharing a secret with her very best friend.

These memories play on my mind as I look out of the aeroplane window. Way down below I see tiny towns. They wink at me in the sun like rolled-up balls of silver paper. The earth has long scars across its skin. 'It's a living organism, Celeste,' Papa once told me. 'Like people, it needs to be taken care of.' I wonder if it feels pain, too, when it loses a part of itself.

It takes almost all day and night to get to China. I wanted Papa and Robbie to come with me, but Papa said I had to go by myself. He's a famous artist. He and I used to paint together. But he hasn't touched a paintbrush since Mama died. It's as if his mind has drifted away and left his body behind.

A flight attendant called Eve is looking after me on the plane. Her hair is straight and golden. She's nice, and when she talks the end of her nose wiggles. We all get served dinner even though it's past midnight. I watch two movies. I write in my diary. And I think about Robbie. Papa doesn't know it, but Robbie comes into my room every night and sleeps on the floor beside my bed. Robbie is brave about everything – even injections! But he's too scared to sleep by himself. He's scared he might never wake up because that's what happened to Mama. In the beginning I used to get angry because I wanted my own space. Then I began to see how much he hurt inside, too.

I put my seat back and drift off to sleep. I don't know why, but I never dream about Mama . . . not since she died, even though I want to so much. Instead, I have a terrifying dream about Por Por.

Por Por and I are walking along the beach when a toadfish the size of a small car leaps out of the water onto the sand and blocks our way. It's huge and fat with big bulging eyes and spikes all over its body. I'm so scared I can't move. I see that Por Por has a sword in her hand. She thrusts the sword inside the fish's mouth and . . .

I feel someone shaking me awake.

'We're almost there, Celeste.' Eve is leaning over me. She takes my blanket and tells me to put the back of my seat up.

I look out the window. I see white farmhouses with black-tiled roofs, and canals running alongside narrow roads. There are small rectangular fields of green and yellow, and ponds that look like mirrors all over the land. I feel excited and scared.

I pick up my backpack and hug it gently. 'Nearly there, Mama,' I whisper. Mama always wanted to return to China one day. So that's where I'm taking her ashes, back to the Isle of Clouds, to the home of our ancestors.

ISBN: 9780143303794
ISBN-10: 0143303791
Audience: Children
For Ages: 6 - 12 years old
For Grades: 8 - 10
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 192
Published: 2nd February 2009
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 13.0  x 2.1
Weight (kg): 0.17
Edition Number: 1

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