Thursday, February 2, 2017

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

This graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier is very touching.  The story starts with Cat and Maya moving from their home on southern California to the northern coast of California.  Maya is the younger sister and has cystic fibrosis.  Cat is a little resentful to leave behind her home and her friends, but she understands that it is better for her sister and she does love her sister.  They meet their neighbor Carlos who is into looking for ghosts.  As the story develops, we see the reason for his interest in ghosts is tied to Dia de los Muertos and the reason for what the day represents.  Cat is afraid of the ghosts and she does not want to consider what might happen to her little sister as she gets older.  As Cat learns a little more about Carlos, we get a peek at their developing relationship.

I’m not going to lie, I was expecting this story to be a tearjerker and I was thrilled that it was more informative about cystic fibrosis and Dia de los Muertos. I was not mentally prepared to cry. Telgemeier is gifted in conveying strong feelings and emotions in her illustrations.  The illustrations are bright and happy.  Some of the panels that contain ghosts are appropriately subdued to convey a haunting feeling.  It is not scary for younger readers.  It is filled with positive relationships between siblings, parents, neighbors and friends.  It is apparent that a lot of research went into this book.

I highly recommend this book for school libraries.  I think it would be appropriate for upper elementary, middle and some high school students.  Visual art teachers could share this book to show how artists can create books/graphic novels.  For younger readers it could be a good introduction to cystic fibrosis, especially if they have a friend or family member suffering from this disease.  I also think it would be a great classroom read for a spanish culture unit on the Day of the Dead.  It is also a great pick for showing diversity in books.  Many of the characters are Mexican or Mexican-American.  Cat’s new friend is Asian-American.  There is a positive representation of different cultures and accepting who we are.  The author’s note at the end of the book was very informative.  I read through the whole thing because it was so interesting.

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