Monday, September 19, 2016

MMGM: Ghosts

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick

Raina Telgemeier's latest graphic novel, Ghosts

Written by Raina Telgemeier
Graphix, 2016
Ages 8-12, Lexile 300
256 pages, 51000 words

Terminal illness, Dia de los Muertos, Relationships, New kid

Here's a peek at the first page of Ghosts,
by Raina Telgemeier

Thoughts: Watch out for some slight spoilers!

I love Raina Telgemeier's art. That is undisputed. Her characters are adorable and lively. Her comic panels read well. Her storytelling style is simply fun.

As for Raina's past graphic novels, they have a definite charm. I was never as big a fan of Smile as my middle school-aged daughter, but I appreciated the depth and honesty in the book and though Drama was full of three dimensional characters, I thought the story a bit lacking.

Now Ghosts has arrived. In general, I avoid ghost stories. Sorry, they're just not my thing. Enter the school book fair and a prime opportunity to check it out.

So checking it out turned to sitting on the floor reading it outright.

Ghosts captured my imagination immediately. The mc is a real girl with real emotions. Though she clashes with her parents, she isn't so rebellious that the mom in me cringes. Her sister bugs her, but the family ties are stronger than her teen hormones. Most stirringly of all, she is conflicted about her little sister's illness. The mc has to protect her sister, be responsible and grown-up, yet she longs to think about her own needs and being protected herself.

Ghosts tackles plenty of themes. Struggles with moving to a new place, fitting in, boy/girl relationships, and caring for younger siblings. On top of that, the little sister's illness is terminal. Now mix in the California culture and generation conflicts sewn together by the theme of seeing ghosts and celebrating Dia de los Muertos. The holiday provides a perfect setting for discussing grief and loss. I was a Happy Hollisters kid, but I can see this book sliding right onto that bookshelf. It's positive and idyllic despite the heavy themes. It presents a more realistic world for young readers, but with the same optimistic vibe. I hope you'll love it as much as I do.

Bonus: Raina's ghosts and skeletons are SO CUTE!

 1. Don't believe me? You can read the review in the NY Times.

2. Still not convinced? You can watch the trailer for Ghosts from YouTube or meet the author/illustrator in person. Dates, times, tickets for her tour are here.

3. You might also like some other graphic novels like the ones below.

Reviewed by Booksylvania
Reviewed by Books4Learning

Reviewed by Jasmine
Reviewed by Suzanne

Reviewed by Alyson
Reviewed by Alyson

4. And the winner is . . . Emily Martha Sorensen!
Congratulations on winning last week's book giveaway! Send me your mailing information and which prize you've chosen. I'll get that out to you this week. Thanks to all who spread the word.

Check out all the recommended titles for September 19, 2016 Marvelous Middle Grade Monday available on Shannon's blog.

If you want to join MMGM, blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday. You can post a straight review or contests, author interviews, etc. Then email Shannon Messenger at

Put "MMGM" or "Marvelous Middle Grade Monday" in the subject line, include the title of the book you're featuring, and a link to your blog. Email your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.

For additional details, see Shannon's website.

Have you reviewed a Marvelous Middle Grade book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!


  1. A very realistic graphic novel. Tough themes mixed with ghostly humor. Teens will like this book.

    1. Yes they will, but you wouldn't believe how hard it was to convince the school to buy it for the classroom!

  2. Hey, I was a Happy Hollisters kid too! I'm intrigued that you found Ghosts to be positive and idyllic despite the serious subject matter.

    1. Cat starts out hating her new town, but she falls in love with the people, traditions, and setting. That's how I feel after I read a good book. And like Cat, I never want to leave. :)

  3. Yes, the graphics look very appealing for kids. I haven't read any of Raina's books but they've been on my TBR pile. Thanks for the heads-up on the newest

    1. She has a huge MG following. Hope you like them. Thanks.

  4. I don't read many graphic novels, but they are a bit hit with my kids. I'm always a big fan of books with a strong family dynamic (it's the mom in me too), so this does sound intriguing.

    1. Last week I finished Sunny Side Up, Ghosts, and Luz Makes a Splash, so it's been a big week for graphic novels around here. Thanks.


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.