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.

Meet Nancy »

You Asked, We Answered: Sisters

October 5th, 2015 by

On October 2, Kidsmomo reader Sophia asked us:

What kind of story is Sisters?

Well, Sophia, you’ve asked the right website! Intense typing immediately occurred when we saw your message:


We love Pusheen! This image doctored by Kidsmomo.



Sisters is a graphic novel (kind of like a comic book) written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier, who also wrote and illustrated Smile and Drama. Both Smile and Sisters are autobiographical — meaning, the story is about Raina’s own life.

Sisters is a really funny and sweet account of Raina taking a road trip from California to Colorado with her mom, her younger sister Amara, and their baby brother. But it’s not all fun and games in the car. You might have guessed that from the hilarious cover illustration!

In the book, there are also flashbacks to when Raina was still an only child (and really wanted a little sister) and to when Amara was a toddler.

This book is perfect if you like stories in any of these categories:

  • Illustrated
  • A quick read
  • Will make you laugh
  • Cross-country hijinks
  • If you relate to family bickering

Not convinced? Check out reviews for Sisters submitted by other readers just like you — the book has an almost perfect 5-star record! ★★★★★

You can read a 16-page excerpt on the official website, and here’s a peek at one of the flashback pages:


After you’ve read Sisters (and loved it), check out some other books you might like…

…about siblings:

…that take place on a road trip:


…and more graphic novels:


If any readers (especially Sophia!) decide to read any of these books (especially Sisters!), please leave us a review! And if there are any other Kidsmomo readers are unsure about what to read next or have a question about a book, feel free to submit an Ask Kidsmomo question below:

    Kids: Ask your parents or teachers for approval before you submit anything to us, and read our Privacy Policy Statement.

    Your Name (optional):

    Your Message (required):

    Pictionary with the Professionals

    October 14th, 2014 by

    Six artists. One sharpie. Many sheets of paper. Get ready for…


    Last week, six graphic novelists gathered to play Pictionary at McNally Jackson Bookstore in New York City. The contestants:

    • Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Lunch Lady series, Platypus Police Squad series, Punk Farm series)
    • Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Drama, Sisters)
    • Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet series, the new Harry Potter book covers)
    • Sara Varon (Robot Dreams, Bake Sale, Odd Duck)
    • Frank Cammuso (The Misadventures of Salem Hyde series, The Knights of the Lunch Table series)

    Left to Right: McNally Jackson Bookstore Bookseller & Pictionary Host, Sara Varon, Raina Telgemeier, and Jarret J. Krosoczka



    Left to Right: Kazu Kibuishi, Frank Cammuso

    We made sure to attend and get front-row seats so we could report back to our Kidsmomo readers. Okay, technically Nancy got a second-row seat and Karen was in the fifth row, but the space was pretty small, so we still got good views of the action.

    The graphic novelists were first split into two teams. At first they guessed for their own teams, and eventually the crowd joined in! The answers were book titles, nouns, or common idioms. Can you guess what they are? (Click on the link below each picture to reveal the answer!)

    Jarrett J. Krosoczka | Clue: A phrase

    Graphic Novelist Pictionary_J-Krosoczka-1

    Pictionary Answer
    Curiosity Killed the Cat

    Frank Cammuso | Clue: A place

    Graphic Novelist Pictionary_F-Cammuso

    Pictionary Answer
    Easter Island

    Sara Varon | Clue: A movie

    Graphic Novelist Pictionary_S-Varon-1

    Pictionary Answer
    Back to the Future

    Kazu Kibuishi | Clue: A phrase

    Graphic Novelist Pictionary_K-Kibuishi

    Pictionary Answer
    Change for a dollar

    Sara Varon | Clue: A thing

    Graphic Novelist Pictionary_S-Varon-2

    Pictionary Answer
    Goldfish (this was surprisingly a stumper for the crowd)

    Raina Telgemeier | Clue: A movie

    Graphic Novelist Pictionary_R-Telgemeier

    Pictionary Answer
    Muppets Take Manhattan

    Jarrett J. Krosoczka | Clue: An event

    Graphic Novelist Pictionary_J-Krosoczka-2

    Pictionary Answer
    New York Marathon

    Sara Varon | Clue: A (smelly) thing

    Graphic Novelist Pictionary_S-Varon-3

    Pictionary Answer
    Athlete’s foot

    Raina Telgemeier | Clue: A phrase

    Pictionary Answer
    Out of this world

    So, how many did you guess correctly? Leave a comment below and let us know whose drawing you liked the best!

    And check out Nancy and Karen in Kidsmomo Pictionary, where Nancy kicks Karen’s butt (in drawing, but not guessing).

    DRAMA: Q&A with Author/Artist Raina Telgemeier

    September 19th, 2012 by

    A couple weeks ago, we shared an exclusive video from Raina Telgemeier, the super-awesome-amazing-rock-star author/artist behind the new book DRAMA. And we also announced a totally-majorly-cool-can’t-miss sweepstakes where the winner gets an autographed copy of the book and an original illustration by Raina Telgemeier herself!Well, the DRAMA continues today with another author exclusive: a Q&A with Raina Telgemeier! Read on to find out how she spent her spare time in high school, her favorite thing to draw, and more:

    DRAMA is about putting on a school musical. Did you work on stage crew or act in plays growing up? Did you base any parts of the book on your real life experiences?

    I never did stage crew, but I did some acting in middle school and sang in the chorus in all of my school musicals in high school. It was really fun!

    I had my hands in a bunch of other fun creative stuff, too: Besides drawing comics for my school paper, I was the Art Commissioner of the Student Activities Board — a fancy title for a student government position where my job was to make posters, fliers, tickets, and so forth for school events. I also loved making costumes, although I have no skills with needle and thread — I made Halloween costumes using found clothing at second hand stores, big papier mâché masks, wigs, make-up… in college I made friends with real costume designers, and my costumes during those years were excellent! (Before you ask: Queen Amidala; Jessie the Cowgirl; Rogue from the X-Men; and Strawberry Shortcake.)

    All of this filtered into DRAMA. Working on a giant, multi-faceted project with a group of people is challenging and rewarding, and there are always stories to tell afterward!

    You previously illustrated the graphic novel versions of The Baby-sitter’s Club books. If you could do the graphic novel version of any other book, movie, TV show, play, song, etc., what would it be?

    My favorite pieces of art and literature tend to work perfectly in their original mediums (for example, how could you adapt Pee-wee’s Big Adventure into anything other than the film it is?), but that’s not to say it wouldn’t be fun to try! Maybe a graphic novel version of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Or the Ramona books. Anything with lots of kids would be a blast to draw.

    I once drew a short comic called Small Steps that was an adaptation of the song Monochrome by The Sundays. It’s about the first spacewalk. Music is a big inspiration for me, although it’s not always quite that literal.

    What’s your favorite thing to draw?

    Kids in action! I love to draw them running around, jumping over things, playing, dancing… maybe I was an animator in a past life. Or maybe I just read so much Calvin and Hobbes growing up, that I wanted to draw kids that looked like they were having that much fun, too!

    And that’s the scoop, right from Raina! You can definitely get a sense of how much energy, excitement, and (of course) drama she brings to the new book — but nothing compares to actually reading DRAMA yourself! So go out and get yourself a copy, or enter our sweepstakes below for a chance to win!

    This sweepstakes is now closed.

    Photo Credit: Marion Vitus

    DRAMA by Raina Telgemeier – Video & Sweeps!

    September 6th, 2012 by

    drama-raina-telgemeierWe’ve never appeared in a play, but we definitely still know all about drama — and that’s because we attended middle school!

    As you guys know, life at school is more than just classes and homework; there’s a lot of crazy and meaningful stuff that happens in the halls, during lunch period, and in the middle of extra-curricular activities. And at Eucalyptus Middle School, drama certainly abounds.

    That’s the setting in the new graphic novel DRAMA by Raina Telgemeier, which involves drama both on stage (in the school production of Moon Over Mississippi) and off stage (new friendships, a school dance, tears, laughter, and multiple unrequited crushes).

    DRAMA just came out this week, and to celebrate, Raina stopped by Kidsmomo to give us a special behind-the-scenes look at how she draws Callie, the main character in the book. Check out the exclusive video below:

    So cool to see an artist in action, isn’t it? And if you like that illustration of Callie, well, you’re in luck! We’re giving away the original illustration and a signed copy of DRAMA to one lucky winner!

    Enter our sweepstakes below, and stay tuned for a Q&A with Raina in a couple weeks!

    This sweepstakes is now closed.

    Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/39/d148835080/htdocs/kids/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/slickquiz/php/slickquiz-front.php on line 59