Skip to main content

Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson


Leo: A Ghost Story is Mac Barnett's fourteenth picture book (two of which have won the Caldecott Honor Medal) in six years. That might seem like a lot for an author/illustrator, but not necessarily for a picture book author. While I tend to prefer picture books where the author is also the illustrator, Barnett's books are favorites of mine and I love seeing his unique story telling style brought to life on the page by a stellar roster of illustrators. Leo: A Ghost Story is Barnett's first book with the fabulous new(ish) illustrator  Christian Robinson and they are perfectly paired here.

Leo: A Ghost Story begins in an empty house with the words, "This is Leo. Most people cannot see him." The page turn reads,

"But you can. Leo is a ghost." I love how the text immediately includes the reader in the story in an exciting, almost conspiratorial sort of way while also assuring, with the illustration, that Leo is a friendly ghost. To further reassure readers, we learn that Leo lived for many years in an empty house, reading books and drawing pictures in the dust. When a family finally moves in, Leo excitedly plays host, bringing them mint tea and honey toast. The family does not offer Leo a similarly warm welcome. After hiding in the bathtub, they call in a "a scientist, a clergyman, and a psychic" to deal with the ghost. Seeing that he is not wanted, Leo decides to end his years as a house ghost and become a roaming ghost.


Already exciting, Leo: A Ghost Story gets even more so when Leo meets Jane as he wanders the city. Creating Camelot with sidewalk chalk, Jane invites Leo to play Knights of the Round Table and a fast friendship begins. Leo is knighted and introduced to Jane's imaginary friends, in a scene that is sweetly funny. Another charming passage comes when it's time for bed and Jane sets Leo up with a blanket and pillow, telling him in confidence that he is her "best imaginary friend." When a "sneak thief" enters the story, Leo makes a wise and brave choice that reveals his true identity, which could lead to more roaming. But Jane is as generous and accepting as she is imaginative and the story ends with mint tea and honey toast at midnight. And, although it is a different house that Leo finds himself in and no longer alone, the final page of Leo: A Ghost Story mirrors with an interior that is seemingly empty.

Christian Robinson's illustrations have a vintage, two dimensional feel that, with the cool blue color palette, keeps the story from being too knowing or sentimental while at the same time a little bit spooky and mysterious. The words and pictures together tell an enchanting tale that will linger in the memories of all who read (or hear) it.


Picture Books by Mac Barnett:









Source: Review Copy

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…