Available at Kinokuniya & Popular bookstores





Finalist: Scholastic Asian Book Awards

How does one even tell a story about childhood in a time of war? Yet Mabel Gan has gone further than many to meld innocence and experience, hope and anguish. The Ghost Who Pinched Me is precious.

- Gwee Li Sui, author and literary critic

The Book


10-year-old Bee Ling is raised in a wealthy Peranakan family in 1940s Singapore. She is jealous of her elder sister, Ying, who receives more attention than her both at home and in school. 


When the Japanese attack Singapore, Ying is killed in an air raid. Soon after, Singapore falls to the Japanese, and Bee Ling’s life is upended. A surprising source of help comes when Ying's spirit returns to the house. 

The book is a work of fiction based on actual historical events, such as the bombing of Singapore and the Sook Ching massacre. Seen through Bee Ling's eyes, the story captures the real experience of those who lived in Japanese-occupied Singapore.


Sibling Rivalry

Bee Ling feels that her mother favours Ying. She is jealous of Ying's popularity in school and resents being known as "Ying's little sister." After Ying's death, Bee Ling re-examines her relationship with her elder sister and goes on a journey of self-discovery.

Domestic Servitude 

The amahs were Chinese female domestic servants in 1930s - 1970s Singapore. Bee Ling navigates complex relationships with the 3

amahs who work for her family. She regards Yong Cheh as her nemesis for scolding and criticizing her. She loves the kind Siew Cheh, and sometimes secretly wishes that Siew Cheh is her mother. 

Character Growth

As her father says, Bee Ling always gets her way. But after the fall of Singapore, she is determined to rise to the occasion, even if it means growing up.

Historical Context

The Japanese occupation of Singapore took place from 1942 to 1945, following the fall of the British colony on 15 February, 1942.


The Empire of Japan renamed Singapore Syonan-to, meaning "light of the South island". 

During the Japanese Occupation, the Kempeitei, or Japanese military police, committed many atrocities, including the Sook Ching massacre which claimed the lives of up to 50,000 ethic Chinese men. Basic resources, such as water, food, and medicine, were in short supply, and people suffered from malnutrition and diseases.

The Japanese Occupation of Singapore officially ended on 12 September 1945.

School Tours

The Ghost Who Pinched Me is a Middle Grade book suitable for

ages 9 and up. It was a finalist in the Scholastic Asian Book Award, 2018.

Mabel will be  visiting schools in Singapore from 29 October to

15 November, 2019.

To sign up for an author visit, or pre-order the book, please use this contact form


The Author

Mabel Gan is a writer, director, and producer whose work explores the stories of young people. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Film, Television and the Recording Arts from Florida State University, where her thesis film, Child Bride, was a finalist in the Student Academy Awards. She wrote and directed the coming-of-age feature film, Sweet Dreams And Turtle Soup, starring Xiang Yun. Her work has been broadcast on MediaCorp, the Disney Channel, and MTV Asia as well as screened in film festivals around the world.

Mabel founded the Big Eyes, Big Minds — Singapore International Children’s Film Festival and produces the annual event as well as its sister film festival in St. Louis, where she resides with her family.

The Ghost Who Pinched Me, a finalist in the 2018 Scholastic Asian Book Awards, is her first novel.

It is dedicated to her late grandmother who lost four children in a Japanese air raid on Singapore. 



For school visits, please indicate level of study:

 © 2019 Mabel Gan