Gustavo the Shy Ghost
Flavia Z. Drago, Author and Illustrator
Candlewick Press, Fiction, Jul. 14, 2020
Suitable for Ages: 3-7
Themes: Ghosts, Monsters, Day of the Dead, Shyness, Friendship, Seasonal
Opening: “Gustavo was a ghost.” He enjoyed doing the normal things that paranormal beings do — passing through walls, making objects fly, and glowing in the dark.”
Meet Gustavo. He’s a ghost, and like any paranormal being, he enjoys doing the normal things, passing through walls, making objects fly, and glowing in the dark. He also loves playing the violin.
But Gustavo has a problem. He is very, very shy. He longs to make friends, but he’s never even dared to speak to any of the other monsters in his town. In fact he’s terrified. With the Day of the Dead fast approaching, can Gustavo be brave enough to let others see him and share his gifts?
Why I like this book:
Flavia Z. Drago’s delightfully quirky story is about a painfully shy ghost who will charm readers from the start. Children will commiserate with Gustavo when he tries to make friends, who just can’t see him. Gustavo is even afraid of standing in line to get Eye-Scream. But in his heart, Gustavo knows he’s something more — a ghost with a talent to share with others. Kids will cheer when he decides to invite his friends to the cemetery on the Night of the Dead for a special event. The ending is endearing and uplifting. There is humor, there is heart and there is connection.
Drago’s illustrations bring Gustavo’s character to life. He uses a lot of white space with sparse text and fun wordplay, which is very effective. Readers will enjoy the entertaining and wacky illustrations show many Mexican themes. They really make this story shine and kids will have a grand time studying each page trying to locate Gustavo — who hides very well in plain sight. This delightful seasonal book is a winner.
Resources: While you draw pictures of ghosts, talk about what makes you feel shy and what one thing you might try to do to make a new friend.
Flavia Z. Drago was born and raised in Mexico City. About this book, she says, “When I was in kindergarten, every lunch break I used to sit on a bench and wonder how the kids were able to play and talk to each other so easily. It was a mystery to me.” As a child she wanted to be a mermaid. Sadly, that didn’t happen, but around the same age, something else did: she began drawing. And when she grew up, she became an artist. Flavia Z. Drago lives in Mexico and this is her debut picture book.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
*Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.