Saturday, October 1, 2016
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
There is a lot of discussion around this work, largely over the use of the Day of the Dead, but I can only speak based on my own experiences. This book brought back some of the fear and suspense I felt as a little girl in Mexico when, if you had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you had to go outside, and there were spirits out there and they could get you. The black cat in the story reminded me so much of my dad, who to this day will turn the car around instead of risk crossing the path of a black cat. My sisters and I might laugh when he does it, but if I come across a beautiful black cat, I will admit I try to find a way to not cross the path it had walked along. I have never been able to get the sense of magic anywhere else as I would at our blue house, or my grandmother's green house.
The librarian part of me considers this book - what if I had had this book when I was younger? I would have loved it the same, maybe more for being a graphic novel with a Hispanic character. Books are an escape for many children and young adults. When I was younger, that is why I read. I feel that part of Raina Telgemeier's goal was to provide a good story and include elements of a particular culture and I feel she did a good job. I don't think there is any form of disrespect or cultural appropriation. People celebrate the Day of the Dead in different ways - some people choose to visit the cemeteries, the parades... others celebrate it quietly at home. Some people choose to go to church, some people have altars with marigolds, and some people use Mexican petunias or other beautiful flowers.
Some of the topics in this book - death, illness, the Day of the Dead, spirits and ghosts, losing a family member, moving to a new place - are scary enough by themselves. Raina Telgemeier makes them accessible to young readers in a safe and fun way.
I really enjoyed this graphic novel.