Top Fives from Macmillan’s Winter/Spring 2017 #MacKidsPreview

missprinttopfivesLast week Macmillan hosted their Librarian preview for Winter/Spring 2017. The event was at Macmillan headquarters in the Flatiron Building and organized by Macmillan’s School & Library marketing department. The preview covered books from Farrar Straus Giroux, Feiwel & Friends, Swoon Reads, Imprint, Henry Holt, Roaring Brook Press and First Second.

I was on the 14th floor in their room themed after Game On. Which you can see on my Twitter:

(You can also browse the #MacKidsPreview tag and my own tweets to see more thoughts on the preview and what Macmillan has coming up.)

MICRO TREND ALERT: Duologies are still very much a thing. Also seeing lots of exciting non-fiction, more mainstream graphic novels, and thrillers.

Picture Books:

  1. Don’t Blink by Tom Booth: This interactive picture book centers around a staring contest between various animals and the reader! (June 2017)
  2. Go Big of Go Gnome! by Kristen Mayer, illustrated Laura K. Horton: Al the garden gnome can’t grow and compete in the annual gnome beard championship (inspired by a real event). BUT it turns out he’s a great beard stylist! (March 2017)
  3. Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey; illustrations by Dow Phumiruk: A picture book biography with lyrical, poetic text about the woman who designed the Vietnam War Memorial among other well-known projects. Illustrations by a new artists who, fun fact, is a full-time pediatrician. (May 2017)
  4. What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends: Artists talking about their favorite colors with accompanying illustrations. Eric Carle has been on a lifelong quest for the perfect yellow–a color that is notoriously difficult for artists to reproduce. Mike Curato likes mint because he loves mint ice cream. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read the book in May 2017.
  5. John Ronald’s Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. Tolkien by Caroline McAlister, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler: I don’t have much to say about this because the subtitle says it all and I got all Verklempt when I saw the illustrations. You need it. (March 2017)
  6. Now by Antoinette Portis: This contemplative picture book explores the joys of living in the now. Quote from the book: “This is my favorite now because it’s the one I’m having with you.” (July 2017)

Middle Grade:

  1. Game On: Video Game History from Pong and Pac-Man to Mario, Minecraft, and More by Dustin Hansen: A non-fiction book about the history and evolution of video games and their relationship to popular culture. Fast paced, short chapters, filled with illustrations and graphic sidebars. (November 2017)
  2. Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel by Kimberly Willis Holt: A modern day Heidi about a girl who is sent to live with her estranged grandfather after her parents die. (March 2017)
  3. Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle, illustrations by Rafael Lopez: This book includes poems, illustrations, and biographical information about a variety of historical figures including Tito Puente, Pura Belpre, and more. (March 2017)
  4. Grand Canyon by Jason Chin: Another stunning non-fiction picture book from Chin this time about the Grand Canyon. Includes Chin’s usual photo-realistic illustrations which are even more stunning with a double page spread and die cuts. (February 2017)
  5. Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan, illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte: Cilla is 1/2 white and 1/2 Chinese and completely delightful in this debut series starter where Cilla is writing her memoirs before her new baby sister is born. Grace Lin said meeting Cilla was like meeting a new best friend. Comp to Ramona. (March 2017)
  6. Real Friends by Shannon Hale, art by LeUyen Pham: Four color illustrations highly this story about making and losing first friends. Gene Yang described it as “so many feels.” (May 2017)

Young Adult:

  1. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo: This one is a bit of a cheat because I already had it on my radar since the cover reveal (and even featured it on a YALSA list). But still excited! Want to know more? Here’s my annotation from that booklist: Desi Lee is a straight A student who knows CPR, car mechanics, and definitely has her application to Stanford well in hand. Love and flirting, however, remain a painful challenge. When Luca Drakos–probably the hottest guy ever–enters Desi’s life, she decides it’s time to improve her flirting game. And she knows exactly how to do it thanks to the Korean dramas her father loves. (May 2017)
  2. The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom: Thriller about a teenage girl searching for her kidnapped father. Compared to the Taken films. First in a duology. (February 2017)
  3. Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller: Another one I’ve been excited to read for awhile. Fantasy debut! Pirates! (February 2017)
  4. This one I’m cheating a little. I’ve been following Imprint since Erin Stein first introduced her new imprint at a preview last year. It’s been great watching Imprint grow and they have some awesome titles coming up including:
    • Freya by Matthew Laurence a contemporary fantasy about gods and goddesses who live among us. (March 2017)
    • The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty pitched as Jane Eyre with an espionage twist. First in a trilogy. (May 2017)
  5. Eye of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos:  Aronson and Budhos, husband and wife authors, team up to look at some of the creators of photojournalism (as photographers started looking past slogans for real human connection) in this picture-filled book. (March 2017)
  6. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman: This biography about Vincent and Theo Van Gogh, who wrote letters to each other for most of their lives is one of my most anticipated 2017 releases. (April 2017)

Author Interview #2: Leah Konen on The Romantics

Leah Konen auhor photoAfter reading and loving Leah’s sophomore novel, I was very happy to pick up an advance copy of her third novel, The Romantics, at BEA this year. The Romantics is a new direction for Konen and an excellent choice for anyone who is a fan of romantic comedies (or even a reluctant convert like the novel’s protagonist Gael). I’m thrilled to have Leah back for her second interview here to talk about her latest novel.

MP: What was the inspiration for The Romantics?

LK: I wanted to explore love in all its forms—from romantic to familial to friendship—and there seemed like no better way to do that than from the perspective of Love. Additionally, my deep love of romantic comedies didn’t hurt.

MP: The Romantics is narrated by Love, a self-described non-corporeal entity. Although Love tells the story in a distinct narrative voice (not to mention plays a key role), readers never actually see Love. What was it like writing a story where the narrator is removed from the story in that way? If love were to adopt a human form for a while, what would they look like?

LK: If Love were to adopt a human form, she (or he) would probably be like me, at least in the case of this book. I took my own experience of dating extensively in New York City, plus the experience of being in a five-year relationship with my then-boyfriend (now-husband), as well as anecdotes from friends, and pulled it all into little observations on love and relationships. They’re not by any means perfect or exhaustive, but through Love’s asides and footnotes, I wanted to show the different ways people love each other, the amazing things we feel when we first fall in love, and the positive impact healthy relationships can have on people’s lives.

MP: Like your previous novel, The Last Time We Were Us, The Romantics is set in North Carolina where the Cantina is the site of some important moments including hot sauce theft and a really awkward meeting between Gael and his ex. How did you decide what real locations to feature in this novel?

LK: Unlike in The Last Time We Were Us, which is set in a fictional composite town in North Carolina, The Romantics is set in a very real one that just happens to be where I went to college. To the best of my ability, I chose places that were near and dear to me during those years (and that are still around). Don’t tell Cosmic Cantina, but I may or may not have stolen bottles of hot sauce on occasion.

MP: The Romantics is your second 2016 release (congratulations!). What has it been like having two books coming out so close together? Did your time working on both novels overlap?

LK: Not only did my time working on both novels overlap, but I was also planning a Brooklyn wedding through all of it—it’s a good thing they were both romance books, because I was certainly in the right headspace for it. Needless to say, 2016 has been quite a year, and I’m looking forward to enjoying a bit calmer next year.

MP: The Romantics is your third novel and features a male protagonist–unlucky-in-love Gael. Was getting into Gael’s head any different from writing your earlier novels with female protagonists? Do you share Gael’s enthusiasm and taste when it comes to movies?

LK: I didn’t really approach Gael any differently than any of my characters, but writing through his perspective did make me think about traditional gender roles and how they’re portrayed, particularly in YA. I think a lot of boys and men are far more sensitive than society tells them they should be, and I really enjoyed portraying a non-macho dude. Plus, it was fun to turn some of the romantic comedy tropes on their heads by having a guy take on the traditional romantic role.

Re: movies, I do share his enthusiasm, particularly for Hitchcock, who is my favorite director. His obsession with seventies dramas like Serpico is a nod to my husband’s faves.

MP: During the novel Love describes (via footnotes) various types of people including Romantics, Cynics, Drifters, Serial Monogamists and more. How would Love classify you?

LK: Definitely a Cynic, but I’ve taken on more Romantic tendencies since meeting my husband (cheesy, I know, but true!).

MP: Since The Romantics celebrates love in all its forms, I have to ask: What is your favorite romantic movie or book?

LK: Pride and Prejudice!

MP: Can you tell me anything about your next project?

LK: Yes, it’s about two teens who meet on an Amtrak train in a snowstorm and the whirlwind night they spend together when the train breaks down. It’s inspired by It Happened One Night, one of my favorite romantic comedy movies.

Thanks again to Leah for this fantastic interview.

You can see more about Leah and her books on her website.

You can also check out my review of The Romantics.

The Romantics: A Review

The Romantics by Leah KonenGael Brennan is a textbook Romantic; he believes in love and he loves the idea of being in love. Unfortunately, life seems intent on squashing his Romantic tendencies first with his parents’ painful separation and a painful breakup with his first girlfriend.

Love has big plans for Gael and can see big things in his future. But only if Gael’s youthful relationships go a certain way–and do not include a dreaded Rebound. When Romantic Gael meets a Serial Monogamist, it seems like Love’s plans for Gael are doomed to failure.

Fortunately, Love has more than a few tricks ready to use to set Gael straight. In trying to redirect Gael’s path to the right romance, Love (and Gael) will realize that sometimes even the best relationships aren’t meant to last forever in The Romantics (2016) by Leah Konen.

The Romantics is narrated by Love who is an omniscient presence throughout the novel. Although Love does not interact with any characters directly, Love does play a hand in near-misses, coincidences, and other interventions to try and move things in the right direction with Gael.

Gael is a fun protagonist and his journey both with romantic love and his other relationships is authentic and entertaining. Gael has a lot of knocks between a painful breakup and his parents’ separation which is painful both in its reality and because it comes as such a shock to Gael and his younger sister.He is realistically angry and frustrated but also remains optimistic as he tries to move forward.

Although the story understandably spends a lot of time on Gael’s romantic travails, The Romantics also underscores that love comes in all forms–both romantic and not–including a really lovely friendship arc between Gael and his best friend Mason. (Though it is worth noting that the novel is generally hetero-normative as the main relationships remain male-female.)

Because Love spends time with all of the major characters, The Romantics also has a thoroughly developed cast and a plot that develops from multiple angles with some surprising results. The Romantics is a breezy and fun story and a sweet romance filled with witty asides from Love along with footnotes and illustrations. Recommended.

Possible Pairings: My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows; Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan, Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks, The Truth Commission by Susan Juby, Everywhere You Want to Be by Christina June, The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder, The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord, In Real Life by Jessica Love, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, Flannery by Lisa Moore, My Unscripted Life by Lauren Morrill, Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales, Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith, P. S. I Like You by Kasie West, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

You can also check out my interview with Leah Konen about this book.

Crooked Kingdom: A Review

*Crooked Kingdom is the conclusion to Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology. It contains major spoilers for book one. If you’re new to the series, start at the beginning with Six of Crows*

“But what about the rest of us? What about the nobodies and the nothings, the invisible girls? We learn to hold our heads as if we have crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary. That was how you survived when you weren’t chosen, when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owed you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway.”

—-

“Crows remember human faces. They remember the people who feed them, who are kind to them. And the people who wrong them too.”

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoIn a city where trade is sacred, Kaz Brekker knows the ins and outs of negotiation better than most. But even Kaz’s knack for staying ten steps ahead of his enemies and rivals can’t help him when he is double-crossed in the wake of what should have been the greatest heist of his nefarious career.

Now Kaz and his crew are scrambling to evade their enemies and regroup before moving against some of the most powerful figures in Ketterdam. Kaz may have lost a member of his crew. He may be branded as a traitor. But Kaz is also one of the only people who understands the true dangers of the drug jurda parem. And Kaz, along with his crew, is the only one who can hope to make things right.

Kaz and his crew are alone in a dangerous game that could change the face of Ketterdam and the rest of the world forever. As the odds turn against him, Kaz will have to use every trick he’s learned to change the game and get justice once and for all in Crooked Kingdom (2016) by Leigh Bardugo.

Find it on Bookshop.

Crooked Kingdom is the conclusion to Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology. It contains major spoilers for book one. If you’re new to the series, start at the beginning with Six of Crows.

As a sequel, Crooked Crows had a lot of promise and high expectations to meet. Like Six of Crows it is written with alternating close third person viewpoints for each member of the crew (Kaz, Inej, Nina, Metthias, Jesper, Wylan) as well as some other key figures. The multiple plot threads and overlapping narratives play against each other and build tension as the novel moves to a conclusion appropriately filled with surprises.

At her launch event for Crooked Kingdom, Bardugo mentioned that this series was inspired by her love of heist movies. Unfortunately, the plot devices in heist films rely heavily on visual cues or sleight of hand, neither of which translates well into a novel. Bardugo makes her inclusion of clues and hints to make the payoff for various cons and twists in this book seem effortless.

Bardugo’s prose is intelligent, deliberate, and thoughtful. Any author can give a character a redemption arc but the truly impressive thing here is that Kaz is exactly what he says he is from the beginning. He is a monster. He is a villain. He is ruthless. And yet by the end of this series he also has depth and nuance and is so much more than even he can fathom. The level of development and growth for the entire cast of characters was fascinating and incredibly satisfying.

This novel is an amazing reference for the mechanics of how a novel comes together and how a series should culminate. Every single thing that is hinted at either in Six of Crows or in the beginning of this book eventually comes together and is resolved. Surprises perfectly balance expected outcomes and characters shock as much as they impress. Crooked Kingdom is an excellent story with a tightly wound plot and characters who are flawed and grasping even as they learn and grow. A perfect conclusion to an exceptional duology.

Possible Pairings: White Cat by Holly Black, Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman, StarCrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce, Heist Society by Ally Carter, The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen, Angel Mage by Garth Nix, There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan, Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt, Never Never by Brianna Shrum, The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Week in Review: December 11

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

I had a three day weekend and I got a ton of stuff done.

I also started posting pictures I took of holiday windows on Instagram so check out my account for that (I’m tagging them all #TourdeXmas2016 for easy finding.)

And I decided to be a cool kid and do a 2006 vs 2016 post:

If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my December Reading Tracker.

How was your week?

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles: A Picture Book Review

“The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles lived alone on a high spot with only one tree for shade. He always kept his eyes on the waves, watchful for a glint of glass.”

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas and Erin E. SteadThe Uncorker of Ocean Bottles has a very important job. It’s his responsibility to open any bottles found in the seawater and make sure they are delivered.  He wishes that he would receive a letter himself. But he knows that’s impossible when he doesn’t have a name.

When the Uncorker of Ocean Bottles receives a bottle with an invitation to a party with no recipient, he isn’t sure what to do. He asks everyone in town but no one recognizes the invitation.

He hopes he can deliver the invitation in time, but along the way discovers that sometimes parties–and friends–don’t need invitations to be wonderful in The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles (2016) by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Erin E. Stead.

What could be a melancholy and lonely story is elevated to a more whimsical and satisfying plane with Cuevas’ text. While this story begins with a solitary deliverer of bottles, it ends with a small community coming together for a party. The serendipity and charm with which this story builds to that outcome is incredibly pleasing to follow.

This story is ideal for older picture book readers who like their stories to have a bit of mystery. Readers never do learn who, exactly, sent the bottle. And the nature of the Uncorker’s job can be a bit dizzying. Perfect for readers who are fans of both The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg and Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Paul Yalowitz.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles is a strange, otherworldly picture book. Stead’s inimitable art style works well here to bring the Uncorker and his corner of the world to life. Desaturated colors and a light touch in each drawing further underscore that this story is something special.

*An advance copy of this title was acquired from the publisher for review consideration at BEA*

Don’t You Trust Me?: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Don't You Trust Me? by Patrice KindlMorgan has known for a long time that she is different–cold, even. She is very good at mimicking and reading people. But she doesn’t care about anyone except herself.

When her parents decide to send Morgan away to a school for troubled teens even though she is obviously not troubled and knows exactly what she’s doing, Morgan knows it’s time to move on before her plans to attend a top-tier college, become a lawyer, and make lots of money are completely ruined.

Morgan’s one weak point has always been impulsiveness. When Morgan sees a sad sack girl sobbing hysterically at the airport over being separated from her boyfriend, Morgan doesn’t think twice before offering to switch places.

Suddenly Morgan is living across the country under an assumed name with her very well off “aunt” and “uncle.” And her overly trusting “cousin” Brooke. Morgan knows she has found a good thing here–something that can help her achieve that grand future she has planned. The only question is whether or not Morgan can keep such a complex con going indefinitely in Don’t You Trust Me? (2016) by Patrice Kindl.

While Morgan never calls herself a psychopath or sociopath during the course of the novel, it’s safe to say that she has Antisocial Personality Disorder and the related lack of empathy at the very least.

Kindl packs a lot into this slim novel where Morgan learns very quickly how to use her unique skills to get ahead. Morgan is a classic unreliable narrator as she leads her new “family,” friends, and readers on a wild ride through her months living a double life in an affluent Albany suburb.

Morgan’s first person narration is as humorous as it is heartless as she explains exactly how she changes identities and begins conning local charities and rich neighbors in her constant quest for money and security.

Unsurprisingly, not everything comes easily to Morgan as lies begin stacking up and secrets threaten to come out in Don’t You Trust Me? Short chapters and Morgan’s blunt narration make this book ideal for readers looking for a fast-paced story. Thriller fans looking for something a little different and readers who enjoy dark humor will also find a lot to recommend here.

Possible Pairings: Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre, The Graces by Laure Eve, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer, Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel, The Truth Commission by Susan Juby, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, Consent by Nancy Ohlin, Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud, Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar, This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons, The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma, Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor, Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

Library Wars: Manga Series Review

Library Wars by Kiiro YumiLibrary Wars: Love & War by Kiiro Yumi (based on the novels by Hiro Arikawa, translated by Kinami Watabe). Find it on Bookshop.

The series follows Iku Kasahara as she joins the Library Defense Force in near-future Japan. The LDF is a militant group comprised of librarians and soldiers who work together to fight the forced censorship of the Media Betterment Committee through any means necessary.

Iku has dreamed of joining the LDF since one of its soldiers stepped in to save her favorite book from being confiscated–something Iku could not do herself as a mere schoolgirl.

Inspired by the shining example of her so-called prince, Iku is determined to become the best LDF operative that she can. Iku’s dedication is challenged when she butts heads repeatedly with Instructor Dojo. While he is competent and can teach Iku a lot, he also seems to have it in for her. Will Iku survive training? Will Dojo ever warm up to her? Will Iku ever learn the true identity of her prince?

All of these questions and more are answered over the course of this fifteen volume manga series.

Library Wars: Love & War is far and away my favorite manga of all time.

I discovered this series in 2011 when I was in library school. Since then I faithfully read every volume as they came out and became available at my library. It was bittersweet when I read the final installment this summer and realized the series was truly over.

Because of the serialized nature of mangas, this series is a great choice to binge. I devoured these volumes and even though I just finished the series, I’m already thinking about a re-read. Yumi’s artwork is expressive and humorous as Iku negotiates her fraught relationship with Dojo with the everyday rigors of life as an LDF agent.

Library Wars: Love & War is fast-paced and filled with action (and if I’m being honest with lots of flirting and romance too). The love-hate dynamic between Iku and Dojo is, of course, at the heart of this series and remains a driving force for most of the installments.

As a librarian, Library Wars: Love & War holds a special place in my heart (though I’m glad I don’t have any militant aspects to my current job!). Highly recommended for anyone who is bookish and looking to get into manga. A great choice for someone looking for a series with a set number of volumes too.

Week in Review: December 4

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

Coming back from vacation was a bit of a production because it seems like everything is happening at work right now and every one of those things has a December deadline. After knuckling down for the last half of the week I am feeling like things are more under control so I can spend more time planning this year’s cookie swap.

I pre-scheduled this to post on Sunday morning by which point Nicole and I will be starting the 2016 Tour de Xmas looking at holiday displays and windows in NYC. I’m going to try to post some sneak peeks on Instagram stories and will eventually post other pics there as well so basically now is a great time to find me on Instagram.

If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my December Reading Tracker.

How was your week?

Ghosts: A Graphic Novel Review

Ghosts by Raina TelgemeierCat’s little sister Maya has Cystic Fibrosis and everyone hopes that the climate in Bahía de la Luna will help her breathing. Cat is sad to leave her friends behind and she isn’t sure what to expect when everyone in town starts talking about ghosts. With the Day of the Dead approaching, all of Bahía de la Luna is preparing to welcome the town’s otherworldly guests.

Cat is afraid of the ghosts while Maya is determined to meet one. Their search for new friends, ghostly and otherwise, will bring Cat and Maya closer together. It will also introduce them to the wonders to be found in their new town–especially when it comes to el dia de los muertos in Ghosts (2016) by Raina Telgemeier.

At this point in her career, Raina Telgemeier hardly needs an introduction. The detailed artwork is a vibrant and beautiful as ever. Stunning artwork brings Bahía de la Luna to life. A heartwarming atmosphere (with a diverse case of characters) combines well with Telgemeier’s signature artwork to create a satisfying read.

The problem is that Ghosts isn’t just a book about ghosts. Instead Telgemeier borrows and embellishes elements of the Day of the Dead for her plot. Notably, she also features calaveras (skeletons doing everyday things) that are often synonymous with the Day of the Dead. Calaveras as we know them were created by Jose Guadalupe Posada–an artist who is never mentioned in Ghosts. (If you want to know more about Calaveras, check out Duncan Tonantiuh’s excellent Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras.)

Then there’s the issue of actual ghosts playing any role at all: While the ghosts in the story are fun and key to the plot, they are not true to the spirit or significance of Day of the Dead in Mexican culture.

I can (and on first reading did) give a pass to a lot of things. Some readers have questioned the fact that Cat and Maya know nothing about their Mexican heritage on their mother’s side. While that raises another red flag, it didn’t bother me in the context of  the story where Cat’s mother was estranged from her family and lost touch with her own mother.

Before digging into other reviews and posts, I also didn’t know enough about the Day of the Dead to pinpoint the specific problems in Ghosts although I knew there might be some (it’s unfortunately always a risk when authors write outside of their own culture/expertise).

Because Telgemeier is such a popular author, it’s not possible to simply say this book should be avoided. As I said, it is a thoughtful story in many ways and were it simply a fantasy comic, it would work quite nicely. Unfortunately the cultural elements are handled poorly and need a lot of context.

If you are going to pick up Ghosts or if you know a young reader who is, try to start a conversation about it so that everyone can learn something from it.

Here are some posts to get you started:

Reading While White has a thoughtful discussion on this problem including a very insightful comment from author/illustrator Yuyi Morales.

Teen Services Underground also has a review from librarian Faythe Arredondo who is half-Mexican and discusses some of the culturally problematic aspects she found while reading the graphic novel.

Karen Jensen at Teen Librarian Toolbox also explores some of the issues surrounding Ghosts in a post on her blog.

Debbie Reese has a thorough look at Ghosts complete with images from the book at American Indians in Children’s Literature.

.*An advance copy of this title was acquire from the publisher for review consideration at BEA 2016*