In this buoyant graphic novel, Raina Telgemeier (Smile; Drama; Sisters) invites her readers to a northern California town and tells a story inspired by her cousin who died from cancer. Like the irresistibly openhearted character Maya Allende-Delmar, Telgemeier's cousin was a Latina girl who was, as described in the author's note, "spirited, joyful, and not interested in letting her illness define her or slow her down."

Maya has cystic fibrosis and the doctor has said cool ocean air would be better for her lungs than the dry heat of her family's southern California home. But when they get to Bahía de la Luna, there's more than moisture in the air... there are ghosts. Real ghosts. And the ghosts--who look like transparent vertical gummy worms with eyes--are as much a part of the fabric of the community as the fog. When Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) rolls around, Maya builds an "ofreda,"--a small altar--to her late Mexican American grandmother, and her older sister, Cat, works on her "La Catrina" costume, that of a fashionable lady skeleton. Telgemeier skillfully, lovingly, paints a world where death is an active part of life.

As ever, her comic-strip-style paneled illustrations are expressive and expertly paced. Dramatic scenes capture the whoosh of the coastal wind and Cat's classic preteen eye rolls; Maya's wince-inducing cough and her no-holds-barred smile; and the benign, leech-shaped, orange soda-drinking spirits that laugh and cry with the living. Ghosts is a fun, riveting, inventive and heartfelt look at love, life and death. Telgemeier's light touch lets her story breathe and, ultimately, sing. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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