Review: Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Posted September 8, 2016 in Review / 9 Comments

Review: Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier


by Raina Telgemeier
Published by Scholastic, Graphix on September 13th 2016
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Fantasy
Pages: 256
Format: ARC

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake -- and her own.

Raina Telgemeier has masterfully created a moving and insightful story about the power of family and friendship, and how it gives us the courage to do what we never thought possible.



Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier is one of my most favorite books to get at BEA 2016.  It’s a sentimental favorite for several reasons.

On the first day of BEA, I was on my own, clueless how it all worked, and basically stumbled my way with the crowd into Scholastic’s booth first.  I saw this graphic novel and just knew I had to have it.  It reminded me of the graphic novel I read a while back, Anya’s Ghost.  But where Anya’s Ghost is aimed at a more older, young adult audience and their issues, Ghosts is aimed at the middle grade audience.  It’s message is simpler, albeit not at all a simple one.  But I’ll get to that later in my review…

When I opened it up and started reading Ghosts, I found out that it was a story set in Northern California, a place in the world very dear to my heart.  My husband grew up in Seaside, CA, about two hours south of Half Moon Bay, the town Ms. Telgemeier modeled her fictional town of Bahia de la Luna after.  I adore the entire area.  To say that Ms. Telgemeier captured the feel, look, sound, and temperature of the area in her pictures is a gross understatement.

Ghosts1600 Ghosts2600

page images property of Scholastic (can be found in Edelweiss)


There’s a specific reason why the story is set in Northern California and that leads me to the next reason why this is a sentimental favorite ARC from BEA 2016.  The story is about two sisters, Cat and her younger sister Maya.  Cat is not happy about leaving their old home and her friends to move to a new town in Northern California.  But Cat understands why.  Maya is sick and the air there will help with her breathing.  Maya has cystic fibrosis (CF).  My more awesome than words sister-in-law has CF.  She’s healthy (relatively, of course), has astounded her doctors, goes through tremendous pain in the form of shots and pricks daily, and she’s almost 40 (sorry, sweetie, if you’re reading this!).

My point in bringing this all up is that this is the first time I’ve EVER read anything about this inherited, juvenile disease in any literature, let along young adult or middle grade.

Bravo ∗glove clap

BUT Ms. Telgemeier’s intention of including the disease in her story is NOT to draw attention to the disease, it just’s a nice by-product.  It’s actually an integral part of the plot and message (what I alluded to earlier).  You see, Cat is afraid of ghosts while Maya is very excited to meet the ghosts.  Maya has some important questions for the ghosts and she’d really like the opportunity to ask them.

Turns out their new next-door neighbor, Carlos, can lead them on a tour to the ghosts in Bahia de la Luna.  Or…  Maya can wait until November 1st, The Day of the Dead, when the entire town celebrates the return of their loved ones.

I really liked Cat and Maya’s relationship as well as their entire family and how it was portrayed.  And the entire town was very friendly and welcoming.  I adored the traditions shared family to family and how they were depicted.  Nothing shoved down anyone’s throats here (know what I mean?  I hate to be “taught to”).  Carlos, the neighbor boy, had a… um… sweet (?) relationship with Cat but it wasn’t until the end of the book that felt a little swoon for the kid.  He was so adorkable and didn’t seem to care 🙂

Jeez Louise, I didn’t think I’d have a lot to say about a middle grade graphic novel.  Apparently  I did.  For the record, this book needs to be in every school library.   Note: you will find this book in your Scholastic hand-outs that are coming home with the kids from school (hint, hint).

On Scholastic’s website, they have kindly provided a fabulous classroom guide.  What more could you want?

About Raina Telgemeier

Raina Telgemeier is the author and illustrator of the graphic novels Smile, Drama, and Sisters, all #1 New York Times bestsellers. She also adapted and illustrated four graphic novel versions of Ann M. Martin’s Baby-sitters Club series, and has contributed short stories to many anthologies. Raina’s accolades include two Eisner Awards, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, a Stonewall Honor, and many Best Of and Notable lists. Raina lives and works in San Francisco, CA.



Middle grade readers or anyone reading to their child that perhaps want to discuss the issue of life after death, or just share a bit of Mexican culture 🙂



About Kristin

Kristin has to ensure she gets her minimal requirement of "happily ever after" books in between those books that contain cliffhangers and never-ending story arcs. It's for her family's sake. When not reading, she's homeshooling her 10-year old son, watching cartoons on TV, or taking a nap.

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9 responses to “Review: Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

  1. I don’t read middle grade but but but THIS SOUNDS SO CUTE! I may need to make a trip to my old high school and order it. I’m not kidding. The school is like 10 minutes or less from my house haha Seriously, though. You have me so interested in it and I’m not just saying that. I really, truly want to read it. Is it scary? I get scared by anything. Are the images scary when it comes to the ghosts and all that paranormal stuff? I now it’s middle grade, but really I’m a scaredy cat.
    (So I may not need to go to the school because I just remembered my cousin gets Scholastic so I can ask her to get it for me). I’m adding it to my reminders so I don’t forget.
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    • It’s at the bookstore, too, but I’d have you’re cousin get it so her teacher gets classroom credit (ie. free books!). Thank you sooo much! This isn’t scary at all because of the ending!!!!! I love this town’s Day of the Dead celebration and how it’s a wee bit different than other’s I’ve seen and read 😀

  2. I haven’t read many middle grade books (only a trilogy by Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr), but this sounds really cute. I love that there is a person with a condition in the book and that the author didn’t make a huge deal out of it. I think we need more books where people with diseases, conditions, mental illnesses are just people. They don’t need it be all drama and a huge part of the story, just that they are included too. (same with people of different ethnicities, sexualities and religions). I agree that this needs to be in every school.
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