Graveyard Shakes by Laura Terry, 208 pp, RL 4
Graveyard Shakes is the fantastic debut graphic novel from Laura Terry, a graduate of Pratt and the Center for Cartoon Studies. Graveyard Shakes is a marvelous mix of beautiful illustrations, fantastic characters and a surprising plot that moves quickly and leaves you wanting more!
Victoria and Katia Trost have gone from being homeschooled on their remote family farm to being boarders at Bexley Academy. Victoria is excited and anxious to find her place while younger Katia is determined to be herself, even, or especially if, it means being a Lone Wolf. At the nearby cemetery, Little Ghost, the ghost of a young boy, eschews the haunting high jinks of his peers for time with Modie, a curious boy being kept alive by his father, Nikola.
Victoria tries her best to fit in and find a way for Katia to comfortably fit in, signing herself up for soccer tryouts and her sister for chamber orchestra auditions but it backfires. Katia disappears in the face of an oncoming blizzard and Victoria heads after her, which is when the two worlds collide.
The relationship between Little Ghost and Modie and the conversations they have about family, memories and dying are poignant, as is Victoria's struggle to get Katia to fit in. Katia is a magnificent character - defiant and unapologetic, unwilling to bend to anyone else's norms. Katia's affinity for the rowdy ghosts who goad her on makes for some great scenes and Victoria's struggle to save her from a fate that would make her a ghost is suspenseful. Terry ends Graveyard Shakes with a very gratifying epilogue that resolves the story perfectly.
A final note: Because I include images with my reviews, I don't often comment on the race of the characters. However, Terry has such a diverse cast that I had to comment. From Nikola and Modie, who appear to be East Asian, to Mrs. Solando, the Latinx music teacher, to the soccer coach and the students, Terry has a cast of non-white characters who stand out for not standing out. I hope this is a trend, as it reflects the readers of these books.