Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier: Book Review

September 26th, 2016 by

ghosts_raina-telgemeierHey, have you heard of a little-known writer/illustrator named Raina Telgemeier? Just kidding! Of course you have, because she is a SUPERSTAR of comics and graphic novels!

Henceforth, I shall refer to Ms. Telgemeier as Raina, because a) she has a cool first name and b) we interviewed her when Drama came out, so I can attest that she is totally cool and we’re like, besties. Kind of. In my literary dreams.

In Raina’s newest book, Ghosts, Catrina — “Cat” to her friends and family — and her family move to the fictional town of Bahía de la Luna in Northern California. Her little sister, Maya, has cystic fibrosis (an incurable lung disease), and the air in Bahía de la Luna will be easier to breathe.

Watch the official trailer from the publisher (Scholastic) here:

Unlike Raina’s other books (Sisters, Smile, and Drama), Ghosts has an element of fantasy in it — the genre is called magical realism, where fantastical elements occur in a real-world setting. Magical realism is somewhere in between a Harry Potter-eqsue magical world and the down-to-earth realistic setting of Wonder. Some other examples are Tuck Everlasting, the Indian in the Cupboard series, and a lot of Roald Dahl books like The BFG and James and the Giant Peach.

When Cat and Maya explore their new home, they meet their new neighbor Carlos, who gives them a ghost tour of the town and explains that the place is full of spirits. The spirits come to visit as the Day of the Dead (Día de los Meurtos) approaches — a Mexican holiday that celebrates friends and family members who have died.

Even though she is ill, Maya is excited for adventure and wants to meet the spirits, but Cat fears for her sister’s health. Cat also starts a new school and must make friends, and the whole family discovers a little more about their own heritage.

Like all of Raina’s books, the illustrations are wonderful. Check out this beautiful spread:

Each time I read the book again, I catch funny and thoughtful expressions on characters’ faces. It’s a true testament to Raina’s illustration skill that I really wanted a hamburger and fries after seeing this panel:


Okay, maybe I always want hamburger and fries. But still…

I laughed, commiserated, and sympathized with Cat and Maya as they settled down in Bahía de la Luna. I felt that they could easily be my next-door-neighbors, and I’ll admit (and forewarn), I was holding back tears because there are parts of the book that are genuinely sad and deal with death.

Ghosts is a wonderful read: perfect for fans of comics and graphic novels, well-written stories, and anything by Raina Telgemeier, of course! (Psst — this is a book grown-ups would like, too!)

More RAINA links on Kidsmomo:

Have you read Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier yet? How do you think it compares to her other books? Leave a comment below or send in a review to be featured on Kidsmomo!

— Nancy

icon_nancyNancy loves this book so much that she has a physical copy AND a copy on her iPad. Some say she’s still reading them side-by-side with a hamburger and fries to this day.

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One Response

  • sarah writes:
    June 2nd, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    I think that this book is awesome

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