Leo: A Ghost Story: A Picture Book Review

Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett and Christian RobinsonLeo is a lonely ghosts. After years living alone in his house, Leo is thrilled when a new family moves in. Unfortunately his efforts to welcome them with mint tea and honey toast go horribly wrong.

Feeling rejected and unwelcome, Leo decides to set out and see the city. The city isn’t at all the way Leo remembered but it does lead him to Jane–a little girl looking for a  new friend. When Jane realizes that his new friend thinks he is an imaginary friend, Leo has to decide how to tell the truth without ending up alone again in Leo: A Ghost Story (2015) by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson.

Barnett’s matter-of-fact texts makes what could be a scary story entirely approachable and friendly for readers of all ages (even ones who might be afraid of ghosts!). Robinson’s artwork takes on a ghostly quality with blue hues dominating most pages. Leo, drawn in a blue outline, seems suitably transparent and ghostly in each frame.

After the careful build up introducing Leo and his subsequent travels through the city, the ending of Leo: A Ghost Story feels somewhat slight by comparison. The idea that friends can be found anywhere (and in all levels of solidity/visibility) will also be a familiar one for anyone who readers picture books with any regularity.

The text and illustrations work well together to capitalize on site gags including Leo trying to serve a family mint tea and honey toast which the family sees as a distressing floating tea service. Leo: A Ghost Story is a great choice to pair with spooky stories or add to an imaginary friend themed story time.