Written and Illustrated by: Raina Telgemeier
Format: Hardcover/Softcover, 5.5 x 8, 256 pages, Full Color, $24.99/$10.99
ISBN: HC: 978-0-54554-061-2/SC: 978-0-54554-062-9
Over the past six years of writing this monthly column I have reviewed and written lesson plans for nearly 300 graphic novels. That said, this is the very first review I will write alongside and with the gracious insight of one of the graphic novel world's most important audience members: A twelve-year old junior high school student named Jessica.
Why Jessica? Simple: She's my best friend's daughter, and she adores and has read EVERY single one of Raina Telgemeier's graphic novels. This girl knows what she's talking about! Thus, when I received my pre-release copy of Ghosts I asked Jess what she would think about contributing her thoughts. After all, she's the Telgemeier expert here.
So, without further ado, this review is a Question and Answer interview with a real-live Telgemeier connoisseur.
KM: You are one of the first young adult readers of Ghosts so I am wondering what you would say to your teacher, classmates, and friends in order to describe the story. What is Ghosts all about? What happens in the story?
Jessica: It's an amazing and exciting adventure about a girl who moves to a new town with her family and has to leave her friends behind so she has to start over. She met a new guy that told her that ghosts were real here, but she didn't want to believe it. Later, she meets up face-to-face with one. After that, the adventure begins.
KM: Do you have a favorite part of the story? What is it? Why is this your favorite part?
Jessica: My favorite part was when the boy showed her and her sister to a place where they could meet the spirits. It's one of my favorite parts because this moment changes everything from that point in the book on.
KM: You're clearly a Raina Telgemeier fan. How do you think Ghosts is similar to and/or different to her other graphic novels?
Jessica: This one is similar to her other books because this book was based on the older sibling, like all of her books.
KM: If you could ask Raina a question about Ghosts what would you ask her?
Jessica: Who was the ghost woman the older sister was talking to?
KM: Would you recommend Ghosts to your friends? Why or why not?
Jessica: I will because it's a story that’s filled with excitement and adventure. It's a story I recommend for all ages!
English Language Arts Elements of Story
Plot(s): For the sake of her sister's health (Maya), Catrina ("Cat") and her family must move to the salty sea air-breezed town of Bahia de la Luna. As the girls try to adapt to the change and their new environment a neighbor peaks Maya's interests with rumors that ghosts dwell in Bahia de la Luna. Cat's interests are not peaked! In fact, she's freaked out. With Maya on a determined ghost hunt Cat must decide whether or not she will help her sister and face her fear of ghosts.
Major Characters: Catrina "Cat", Maya, Cat and Maya’s mom and dad, ghosts/spirits, Mr. and Mrs. Calaveras, Carlos Calaveras, Day of the Dead Catrina
Major Settings: Bahia de la Luna, California; the beach; Cat and Maya's new home; the arcade; the mission; hospital; school; Day of the Dead Celebration
Major Themes: Change, Childhood Health and Well Being, Family, Exploration and Bravery, Fears, Neighbors and Friendship, Tradition and Modernism
Writing Lesson Plan for Grades 4 - 8*
Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant, accurate data and evidence that demonstrate an understanding of the topic or text, using credible sources.
Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
* The standards for fourth and fifth grade writing in Language Arts are encompassed within the writing standards for grades six and eight.
To begin this writing lesson plan, ask students to think about and reflect upon all of the changes and/or challenges that the main character, Cat/Catrina, faces throughout the story. It may be a good idea to keep a list of the class' thoughts on the board.
After making this list ask students to next work in pairs in order to accomplish the following three writing activity/lesson plan steps.
Directions Step 1:
Make a list of what you think are the five - seven most important decisions Cat/Catrina makes as a result of all of the changes and/or challenges she faces in Ghosts.
Directions Step 2:
Draw five - seven panels to represent each decision you listed in Step 1. Within each panel, be sure to show the images and/or visuals that best exemplify the decision(s) Cat had to make.
Go back up to your panels and write a thorough explanation that contains: why you choose these selections as part of Cat's major decisions in the story, how Cat herself might feel about each of your choices, and, lastly, how each of these decisions influence the story.
Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida. Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2014); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts (2015). When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her three wiener dogs, Samantha, Max, and Alex Morgan Monnin.