Cover image for Out of the wild night
Out of the wild night
1st ed.
Physical Description:
291 pages, 6 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 22 cm
Reading Level:
790 L Lexile
Mary W. Chase died on Nantucket Island just over one hundred years ago, but she is still there, in the house she once lived in, and she wants to keep it that way-- but first she must somehow contact a group of children who are interested in preserving historic homes on the island.


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From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing Vemeer comes an unforgettable story about an island haunted by the ghosts of the past.Ghosts are alive on the island of Nantucket. You can hear them in the wind and in the creaks of the old homes. They want to be remembered. And, even more, they want to protect what was once theirs. The ghosts have chosen a few local kids to save the island against the adults who would do it harm. But the kids can't be sure how the ghosts are going to act. Things tend to disappear when ghosts are around. People tend to get trapped - especially if they're up to no good. Only the kids can make things right . . . if the ghosts will let them. Out of the Wild Night is master storyteller Blue Balliett at her spooky best, a spellbinding tale about the haunted residents of a very special place.

Author Notes

Blue Balliett was born in New York City in 1955. She received a degree in art history from Brown University. After graduating, she moved to Nantucket Island, Massachusetts and wrote two books of ghost stories. She eventually moved to Chicago and taught third grade at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. Her first children's book, Chasing Vermeer, won the 2005 Edgar Award in the Best Juvenile category. Her other works include The Wright 3 (2006), The Calder Game (2008), and The Danger Box (2010).

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-A lyrical, suspenseful ghost story and a love letter to Nantucket. A windless November has settled upon the shores of the island, as Mary W. Chase awakens from the afterlife to fulfill the role of Town Crier and narrator. One night, mysterious footprints shuffle ashore, piquing the interest of the children on the island. These ghosts have returned in response to renovations of historical island houses, an effort headed by the sneaky Eddy Nold. Phee, her grandfather Sal, and friend Gabe, along with the other members of the North End Gang, conspire to help the ghosts in preventing the renovations. Soon, the increasingly violent nature of the ghost's actions become alarming. Balliett's vivid descriptions and stunning prose capture the sense of place extraordinarily, casting Nantucket and its rich lore as a character itself. Back matter consists of an authentic Nantucket recipe and glossary of old language. The clever technique of a ghost narrator will appeal to many, yet the meandering plot with several deviations and the introduction of various nonessential tertiary characters require the sustained attention of sophisticated readers. Plenty of spooky scenes punctuate the story and a surprising twist at the end will have readers flipping back through the pages to revisit the clues buried deep within Balliett's nuanced descriptions. VERDICT Hand this to strong readers who enjoy being transported to another place and who love old ghost stories.-Amy McInerney, Falmouth Elementary School, ME © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Two interrelated problems have raised tensions on Nantucket, a normally serene island off the Massachusetts coast. One is the clash between a chronic shortage of affordable housing and wealthy outsiders buying up rickety homes that once belonged to lobstermen and sea captains. The second is ghosts (including Mary Chase, who narrates despite being dead for a century), who don't want the homes they've haunted for years renovated by rapacious contractors who swap out weather-beaten siding for Viking stoves and marble flooring. Into this conflict enters an ethnically diverse gaggle of local kids who feel (oddly) compelled to stop the renovations with a rash of "accidents" on construction sites. Balliett, a former island resident, writes lovingly about its rich history and unequivocally sides with the preservationists ("Some say Nantucket has the greatest number of pre-1850 houses of any residential community in this country," notes one character). But many readers may gloss over the housing issues to focus on the shivery exploits of the marauding ghosts and a twisty finale that adds poignancy. Ages 8-12. Agent: Doe Coover, Doe Coover Agency. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Mary, a Nantucket ghost, and a group of local children struggle to save the island's centuries-old homes--and the spirits who inhabit them--from demolition. The novel is slow to pick up steam and narrative shifts can be jarring. That said, Balliett masterfully builds a sense of place with lyrical details ("Rafters and corner posts shiver in their sudden nudity"), and a surprise ending is satisfying. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Nantucket's ghosts work alongside living islanders to face the challenge of development that guts old houses.One year after a tragic boating accident, the ghost of Mary Chase, dead over 100 years, wakes in a windless, 21st-century November. She's the new Town Crier, needed to warn others about the imminent destruction of her 18th-century house, one of many being "rehabilitated" for new, off-island owners. She watches the Old North GangGabe Pinkham and Paul, Cyrus, and Maddie Coffin, all white island children of mostly English descent; biracial Phoebe Folger Antoine, whose mom is white and whose dad is Jamaican; and Dominican-Cape Verdean twins Maria and Markos Ramosas they encounter ghosts from an earlier time and begin to work with them to thwart the developers through a string of "accidents." And, at a crucial moment, when Phee's house is threatened, once-quiet Mary finds her voice, screaming to wake the world. The author of such well-loved, intricately plotted mysteries as Chasing Vermeer (2004), Balliett outdoes herself here with this surprising story, set in a lovingly depicted present-day Nantucket and peopled with ordinary citizens who, like their predecessors, work with their hands. Phee and her grandfather have even started an organization to help homeless island workers. Mary's first-person, present-tense account weaves in and out of an omniscient observation of the children's actions as the line blurs between the living and the dead.Modern themes and old-fashioned values in a ghostly Nantucket wonder, with a twist. (Fantasy. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Balliett whisks readers to the shores of Nantucket for a mystery swathed in history and ghosts. Beset by a housing crunch, Nantucket is experiencing a flurry of rehab projects. Yet one contractor, Mr. Nold, is gutting old houses, throwing out perfectly good wood and stirring up the ghosts that have long resided within their walls. Despite sabotaged construction sites, Nantucket's adults are slow to accept that disgruntled spirits are to blame. The island's kids, however, have no such reservations, and they realize that the only way to restore the community's peace is for residents to listen to the ghosts and reconnect with their own pasts. The story's narration is shared by the ghost of Mary W. Chase and a third-person account of the Old North Gang, a group of kids dedicated to stopping Mr. Nold. Though billed as a ghost story, it feels more like a history lesson with a heavy-handed, but reassuring, message of belonging. The island's immigrant population and subsequent bouquet of cultures is frequently spotlighted, emphasizing that strength is born of diverse roots.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2017 Booklist