Alex jumped at the chance to read Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier when he received it over the Christmas holidays. When his dad (half-jokingly) pointed out that he was on a restriction from comic books, Alex gleefully informed him that Ghosts is a graphic novel and not included in the comic book restriction. Alex then settled in to enjoy the book.After he finished, Alex quickly passed Ghosts along for me to read, and asked if we could find him everything else Ms. Telgemeier has written. I think he’s made it through all of her books already—he just doesn’t want to put them down!
In the opening pages of Ghosts, we meet Catrina (Cat) and her family. We learn that Cat’s younger sister, Maya, has cystic fibrosis, and that the family is moving to a new town that is supposed to be better for Maya’s health. Like every good preteen, Cat is miserable with the family’s decision, dislikes the new town, and spends much of the first few days with a frown (or similar unhappy expression) on her face.
Cat’s antipathy toward the new town (Bahia de la Luna) continues to grow as she begins to meet people and feels like everyone in town talks about ghosts as though they are real. In fact, all of the town’s residents celebrate Dia de los Muertos by having a big party “with the ghosts.”
Cat and Maya go on a “Ghost Tour” led by their neighbor’s son and discover the town’s secret—there really are ghosts in Bahia de la Luna. The Ghost Tour ends abruptly when a medical emergency hits.
Cat must then face her worries over Maya’s deteriorating health while adjusting to life in Bahia de la Luna on her own. As she makes friends and builds friendships in her new hometown, she also learns more about her own Mexican heritage, so that she begins to get excited about Dia de los Muertos as the day approaches. She needs one final push to help her decide whether to join the celebrations.
Ms. Telgemeier’s illustrations are phenomenal—showing Cat with a range of emotions on her face that could rival any preteen, and including tiny details in the background of panels that you only see the second or third time you look at the page. My favorite illustrations are her overhead shots and distance views. There are just a few of them scattered throughout the novel, but in each one, Ms. Telgemeier gives us so much to look at, and the difference in perspective from the typical close-up panels makes a lasting impression.
Ms. Telgemeier has a great website at goraina.com. She includes regular blog posts, information about her books (along with a number of reading guides), and a great FAQ page for fans.
Ms. Telgemeier has written a number of graphic novels and short stories. The most well-known of these are probably the #1 New York Times bestsellers Smile and Sisters, both graphic novels based on her childhood.
Have you read any great books lately?