Andy & Ghost Boy by Karen Tyrrell

Karen Tyrrell is a Brisbane based children’s author, children’s rights ambassador and key-note speaker. She writes books with the aim of empowering children to ‘live STRONG.’ She also presents interactive reader’s theatre, inspirational talks and writing workshops, empowering children and adults to overcome bullying, manage emotions and care for the environment.

Karen’s latest book, Andy & Ghost Boy, is an easy-to-read, funny and tender tale, that will encourage readers to open up discussions about managing worrying, understanding anxiety and finding their own inner hero.

Disaster magnet, Anxious Andy dreams of finding one true friend and his forever school, but how can he when Ghost Boy, his rambunctious friend, sabotages everything?

Andy and Ghost Boy trigger a catastrophe at school.

 At Camp Discovery, a bully showdown results in disaster.

Can Andy become the hero and save the day?

Shortlisted in the CYA Conference and the SCBWI Larrikin House Writing Competitions, the story centres around main character Andy who has arrived at yet another new school. When asked what his goal for his new school is Andy replies that he ‘hopes today will be different, that he will enrol in his forever school and control his worries.’ Also, he wants to find a best friend and stop the bullies from tormenting him. Andy has been to 39 schools, with his dad needing to move around for work. His mum has her own worries and barely leaves the house.

From here a series of unfortunate events unfold and Andy finds himself the centre of attention. But it’s not the kind of attention he craves… When he is rushed to hospital in the throes of a panic attack, a strange girl comes along too, pretending to be his sister. She seems too good to be true. Who is she and why is she being so kind to Andy?

When the opportunity to attend a camp arises, (the first time Andy has ever been away from his family), he decides to take a chance, despite his anxious mum refusing to sign the form. He heads to the bus anyway, hoping for a miracle. To his surprise, his mum turns up at the last minute and signs the form, and off to camp Andy goes, along with Mystery Girl, who he now knows as Elle. To his horror, his arch-nemesis, the boy commonly called ‘The Hulk’ is also on camp.

As events unfold Andy discovers that people are not always as they seem, and he finds the strength and courage inside of him which will help to save the day. He also discovers that friends can be found in the most unusual of circumstances.

This book provides plenty of opportunities for discussion around issues including mental health, in particular anxiety and panic attacks, bullying, friendship and courage. The adults in the story are strong characters and I loved how Andy’s mum and one of the teachers, also grapple with anxiety, showing children that this is nothing to be ashamed of, that anyone can experience anxiety, and that talking about your feelings and problems is important at any age.

Throughout the story, Andy’s ‘imaginary friend’ Ghost Boy, tries to sabotage Andy from time to time, but I also felt that he was the one on the sidelines, cheering Andy on and challenging him to see himself in a different light. Andy has a keen sense of humour and he uses this in his interactions with other people and in dealing with the many scrapes and accidents he finds himself in.

There is plenty of hope, with an overarching message of kindness, forgiveness and compassion. Rather than making excuses for bullying, the story encourages children to ask questions of others, to be kind and to share their worries. It will leave young readers with the confidence to be themselves no matter what, and to always speak up when they need help.

You can buy the book via Karen’s Website.



  1. Karen Tyrrell on August 7, 2023 at 7:45 am

    Thanks Helen for your lovely review of Andy & Ghost Boy. Thrilled you ‘get’ my story.
    Thanks for your detailed comments.

    • Helen Edwards on August 7, 2023 at 9:13 am

      you are very welcome!

  2. Norah Colvin on August 13, 2023 at 8:31 pm

    Great review. I agree.

    • Helen Edwards on August 25, 2023 at 7:24 am

      thank you!

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