Adults only by Morris Gleitzman
Penguin, 2015. ISBN 9780143308768
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Loneliness, Ghosts, Orphanages, Islands. First published in 2001, this is a welcome reprint for middle to upper primary school readers looking for a gently entertaining story about one lonely boy. Gleitzman's technique of a naive child in the centre of the story with things happening around him somewhat out of his control works well as Jack on an island where adult guests are promised a holiday without children, must hide when visitors come along. But this only underlines his loneliness and he determines to do something about it. He emails all his School of the Air classmates, inviting them to the island, just as a couple from a magazine join his parents for a few days. His parents are hoping for a positive article leading to more guests so alleviating their financial difficulties. But Jack keeps seeing a young girl with a pink dress, and each time he tries to find her she is gone. His only friend, his teddy bear, Crusher, does not know what is going on either, as Jack tells him all.
In Gleitzman's recognisable brief paragraphs, Jack is drawn into the world of the children who lived on the island many years ago, incarcerated in an orphanage where their treatment sometimes led to their deaths. When Jack realises that these children are ghosts, he wants to find out more.
At the same time, Jack, convinced that his parents do not want him, finds the truth about the photographs in the album, and when the journalists come clean about their reason for being there, all is resolved neatly and satisfyingly.