CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 15. . . .December 15, 2017
How to Make Friends with a Ghost.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, January, 2018.
40 pp., hardcover & epub, $21.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-101-91901-9 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-101-91902-6 (epub).
Kindergarten-grade 5 / Ages 5-10.
Review by Allison Giggey.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Putting your ghost to bed every night will ensure it sleeps soundly with plenty of nightmares. Ghosts love nightmares!
Make your ghost a cozy bed. Try laying down moss in the darkest corner of the attic. You can also make a canopy out of spiderwebs!
In Rebecca Green’s clever and beautifully illustrated book How to Make Friends with a Ghost, readers learn tips and tricks for finding, caring for, and growing up with supernatural sidekicks. The witty humour in this picture book keeps the giggles going all the way through, right up to the sweet and slightly sentimental turn at the end. At my house, How to Make Friends with a Ghost will be filed under “Picture books that are just as much for the parents”.
The text reminds me of B.J. Novak’s popular The Book with No Pictures. It’s frank, funny, and earnest, with a tone that talks to children, not down to them. The balance between smart and silly is just right; my little listeners laughed just as much at the idea of a towel on a doorknob being mistaken for a ghost as they did at the mention of boogers.
The clear winning element in this book is the design. I loved the font from the first lines and was shocked to learn that the entire book had been handlettered. The whimsical feeling of the text helped keep the mock-textbook format from ever seeming dry or dull. Speaking of which, the use of typical nonfiction text features, such as footnotes, diagrams, and illustrated figures, is going to make this a well-used tool for teaching those elements in my junior high classroom.
The illustrations in How to Make Friends with a Ghost are stunning. The closest comparison I can come up with are Sydney Smith’s illustrations in JonArno Lawson’s Sidewalk Flowers — that neutral palette with the occasional effective pop of colour. Green manages to fill the simply-drawn face of her female protagonist with worry, fear, happiness, and love; her ghost, on the other hand, remains consistently cute and lovable.
How to Make Friends with a Ghost is a must-have for any home or school library.
Allison Giggey is a teacher-librarian and the mother of two young readers who love a good ghost story.
© CM Association
University of Manitoba
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