There are stories that should only be heard at certain times, in certain ways. ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas sounds idiotic in July. So before reading or listening to Collision Course Goad, respect the ghost story tradition; grab a bag of candy you know you’re not supposed to have, turn a flashlight on the illustrations, and turn off the lights or pull a sheet over your head. Now you’re ready to hear the story of Sada, the woman cursed by a broomstick, and her horrible fate.
It is not an especially good story. It’s told in rhyme, and from the title on, Collision Course Goad often forces the language into contortions to keep some semblance of rhythm and meter. It’s an odd choice of words, to begin with, as the “goad” part of the story never seems too clear. But it’s a simple story, delightfully bleak, the sort of unhappily-ever-after tale made for slumber parties and campfires.
While Collision Course Goad is not the best ghost story ever, it comes with one of the finest nighttime narrators a slumber party could ever hope for in the form of a read-along CD. The CD’s speaker has a thin, childish voice, perfectly accented with faint echoes, musical cues, creaking floorboards and all the other haunting notes that never appear when telling a ghost story in real life. Coupled with the understated pencil illustrations that stare out from the center of every page, this haunting reading makes Collision Course Goad a more unsettling experience than it has any right to be.
Collision Course Goad may be too effective for younger children, but most eight-year-olds should be able to handle it; and even adults will find the trembling childish narration on the CD effective. It’s perfect for Halloween, and a little bit of pleasant chilliness for the rest of the year.