Gus Was a Friendly Ghost is a children's picture book of thirty-two pages. It was written by the prolific American author Catherine Wooley under the pseudonym of Jane Thayer and illustrated by Seymour Fleishman. It was first published in the United States in 1961.
Gus, the story's title character and protagonist is a ghost who simply wants everyone to be happy. The building that he haunts is the summer home of the Scott family. Although he has no direct contact with them, Gus is very fond of the Scotts and feels very lonely when they leave in the autumn. While walking outside the house one autumn day, Gus meets a cold mouse. He invites the mouse to come back to his house. The mouse is happy there and decides to stay. Unfortunately, the mouse hates people and when the Scotts return, problems ensue.
A further eight books about Gus the ghost were published between 1966 and 1989.
Mr. and Mrs. Scott and their twin children Phoebe and Sammy spend their summers in an old house in the country. The house is also home to a ghost named Gus. Even though he does not interact with them directly, Gus is very fond of the Scotts. While they are at home, Gus stays in the attic. He rattles chains and makes other noises because he thinks that is what people expect ghosts to do. Although they do not believe in ghosts, the Scotts jokingly say to their friends, "We've got a ghost", when they hear the noises Gus makes.
When autumn comes, the Scotts leave. Gus no longer makes any sounds because there are no people there to hear them. He feels extremely lonely. To make himself feel better, Gus goes out for a walk. He meets a mouse who complains of being cold. Gus invites Mouse to spend the winter at his house. Mouse is reluctant to go there at first because he really hates people. Gus reassures Mouse that there are currently no people there.
Gus magically makes a fire in the fireplace to keep Mouse warm and magically produces cheese for Mouse to eat. Finding newspapers, which he hates, on the beds and mothballs in the drawers, Mouse follows Gus' suggestion and goes up to the attic to sleep. He makes a bed for himself inside an old mattress.
Gus cooks three meals and snacks for Mouse every day. He prepares a great many different cheese-based foods. Mouse never provides Gus with any help. In the evenings, Gus and Mouse sit by the fire and play checkers or prepare popcorn. The light from the fire shines out of the window and smoke comes out of the chimney. This goes unnoticed, however, because no people ever go near the house.
The weather gets warmer and the Scotts return to their summer house. Mouse is unhappy because Gus can no longer cook for him and because he hates people. He decides to scare away the Scotts. He runs about inside the walls. The Scotts hear him and say, "We've got a mouse:, although they are not scared away. Mouse then nibbles at some of their food and deliberately spills other food on the floor. He chews a hole in a pillow. He goes up to the attic and makes as much noise as he possibly can while the Scotts are in bed.
Mr. Scott eventually sets a mousetrap. Mouse finds the cheese on the trap hard to resist and almost gets caught in it. Gus stops him and puts up a warning sign in front of it. Mr. Scott sets more traps. Gus puts up warning signs for each of them. Mouse continues trying to scare the Scotts away by making noises. Gus does not want any harm to come to his friend Mouse and does not want the Scotts to be bothered either.
Mouse shows himself to Mrs. Scott on a kitchen shelf and succeeds in scaring her. This makes Gus very angry. He tells Mouse that he will have to follow certain rules if he wants to stay in the house. He must not frighten Mrs. Scott again. He must not nibble or chew the Scotts' food or possessions again. He can go outside and eat seeds instead. The final rule is that Mouse has to be quiet. Mouse agrees to the rules. Seeing that he has frightened his friend, Gus kindly tells Mouse that he will only have to follow those rules until the Scotts leave in the autumn.
Since they can no longer hear Mouse, the Scotts assume that he has gone. Mr. Scott takes away the traps. The Scotts are happy to hear Gus' ghostly sounds coming from the attic again.
When the Scotts eventually leave, Gus and Mouse have a celebration with cheese croquettes for dinner.
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- The Night Before Halloween
- Room on the Broom
- Scary, Scary Halloween
- Winnie and Wilbur picture book series