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Monday, October 12
Leo: A Ghost Story
Written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson
My rating: ★★★
Date of publication: August 25, 2015
Age: 4 - 7 years
Themes: ghosts, imaginary friends, burglary, friendship
Leo is friendly and happy. He is also a ghost. When a new family moves into his home and Leo's efforts to welcome them are misunderstood, Leo decides it is time to leave and see the world. That is how he meets Jane, a kid with a tremendous imagination and an open position for a worthy knight. That is how Leo and Jane become friends. And that is when their adventures begin.
I had a hard time rating this one because I'm really not won over...but I feel like I should be. I enjoy Mac Barnett's work, but this just didn't seem quite as good. The story seemed to ramble quite a bit and didn't have a real arc. Leo is a ghost. The new family that moves in are scared, so Leo leaves. Leo wanders in a city that's changed quite a bit. He meets a new friend. Then, quite randomly, a burglar sneaks into the house of his new friend and it's up to Leo to save the day. It just feels like a bit too much, without much humor.
Still, it got the three stars because the concept is an original idea: a girl making friends with a ghost because she thinks he's her imaginary friend. And, the illustrations are SO adorable. The monochromatic scheme contributes to the ghostly aspect, and the retro simplicity adds to the child-like whimsy. Actually, the story itself is rather childlike (picture a toddler telling you a long story, but with words like "roused" in his vocabulary), so I guess the two go hand-in-hand.
Overall, I would say that with the many many positive reviews it's getting elsewhere, you should decide for yourself. Good readalikes would be The Adventures of Beekle and Imaginary Fred.
Find it at your library or on Amazon