The children are the future and, dammit, it’s important to get kids interested in reading! Children’s programming with an emphasis on reading has a treasured tradition with such shows as Reading Rainbow and Wishbone setting a high standard. Apple TV+ joins the ranks on good footing with their GHOSTWRITER series. It’s a show that’s very easy to love, especially for children and families.
As it turns out, GHOSTWRITER is a bit of a throwback to the great nostalgic reading shows. The AppleTV+ series is a remake of a popular PBS series that ran from 1992 to 1995. In GHOSTWRITER Ruben, your average new kid in school is having trouble making friends after he and his mother recently moved in with his grandfather. Ruben’s grandfather owns a gradually declining bookstore and needs help running it, following the death of his wife/Ruben’s grandmother.
Strange events begin to happen at the bookstore, from secret messages appearing to storybook characters hopping over into our world. Ruben and other neighborhood kids Curtis, Donna, and Chevon are the only ones that can see these messages and commune with the titular “ghost writer.” It’s up to the gang to solve the mysteries, return famous literary characters to their proper place, and answer the call of the Ghost Writer.
Make no mistake that GHOSTWRITER is most definitely a children’s show and aimed at a very young demographic. All the stereotypes of new kid, overachiever, nosy little sister, and jock are present but realized with a ton of charm. The show’s writing, humor, and characters are a bit elementary but that is far from a bad thing. GHOSTWRITER is infused with a lot of fun and has an adventurous spirit that will thrill the kids and bring a smile to parents and other adult viewers.
A credit to GHOSTWRITER is that it doesn’t talk down to its audience. It relates to them. Great literary works are heavy and can feel out of reach to young viewers, but GHOSTWRITER does not shy away from them and allows heavy themes and lofty works to play out. The show simply brings the classic forward in a way that is exciting, without watering down.
GHOSTWRITER brings a refreshingly modern twist to the classic tales, as well, and really allows these great fictional characters to play in a way that makes sense in the modern world. Furthermore, our young heroes are contemporary role models as well. They’re savvy and understand the world around them. Fun celebrity cameos like Tiffany Haddish and Neil Patrick Harris also bring a very fun and exciting edge to the stories. Viewers young and old are excited to see what comes next.
You may be asking: “Is GHOSTWRITER spooky?” Yes and no, and in the best way possible. Of course, it goes without saying that a ghost story is at the center of the show. This ghost, while friendly, is responsible for some pretty creepy happenings. The entire show has this delicious “creep factor” that sends a shiver up your spine, while never taking the smile off of your face. It’s an accessible scare that will delight younger audiences.
In many ways, GHOSTWRITER reminds one of the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osbourne. Just as the beloved children series tells a digestible form of history, GHOSTWRITER breaks down fantastical and complex literature. The challenges faced by the children on GHOSTWRITER are heavy, no throwaway episodes here! Not to mention that the stakes are high! Killer tigers and murderous queens are a real threat, in the series, but are presented in such a way that children feel empowered to face these fears.
GHOSTWRITER returns to that higher standard of children’s programming. It’s an exciting story that holds surprises for viewers of all ages. AppleTV+ is setting the pace that other streaming services should be trying to match. Well done.