Books · reviews

Book Review: Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

by Raina Telgemeier

Published by Graphix (Scholastic) on September 13, 2016.

Raina Telgemeier’s middle-grade graphic novel Ghosts tells the story of Catrina and Maya, two sisters who have just moved to a coastal town in Northern California.

Younger sister Maya has cystic fibrosis, and the coastal air is supposed to help her struggling lungs. She’s young and adventurous and isn’t willing to let her health stop her from enjoying her new home town.

Older sibling Cat knows the move is for the best, but can’t help that she is sad to leave her friends behind and start over in a new town- especially since everyone in the town seems to be obsessed with ghosts!

But while Maya is fascinated by the town’s annual Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) celebration, Cat is afraid of anything to do with the death and ghosts. Though this is a middle-grade novel, the book brings up some very serious and scary issues, and includes discussions of death. Telgemeier manages to address these ideas in a comforting way, by turning the ghosts into characters and emphasizing the traditions of the Day of the Dead celebrations.

Her illustrations, especially of the Dia de los Muertos party, are full of life and joy and energy. The colors pop out at you and will make you wish you were right there  with Cat and Maya.

For Cat, the idea of losing Maya is terrifying, and it’s easy for her to want to play it safe, after all, she’s supposed to be the responsible one. Ghosts is about learning to live life in the face of those fears. This gorgeous graphic novel does a really fantastic job of articulating those fears, while offering hope not only to Cat and Maya, but to the reader as well.


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