Saturday, December 12, 2020

Cartoon Saturday-- Ghosted

Fry, Michael. Ghosted. 
January 19th 2021 by HMH Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus'

Larry and Grimm have been friends ever since Grimm helped Larry with an explosive pop can situation, and the two have an epic tree house and a bucket list filled with items like "take a bath in spaghetti". When Grimm is struck by lightning while rescuing a cat from a tree, Larry is lost without his more exciting half. When Grimm comes back as a ghost, the two worry that Grimm has unfinished business that is keeping him tethered to earth. They think that by doing the items on the bucket list, Grimm will be able to move on. They try feeding the neighbor's vicious small dog, prank the principal, and get up to various high jinks that are a bit difficult considering that Larry often looks as if he is talking to himself and his mother strongly encourages him to go to counseling. (Which he actually finds helpful, even given his bizarre situation.) When Larry starts to realize that Grimm's humor was sometimes misplaced, and his treatment of a classmate might be what is keeping him from moving on, he tries to get Grimm to see what is keeping him back, even though he knows that once he does, he will have lost his best friend forever. 
Strengths: This is a good reminder that I need to dust off The Naughty List (2015) for the holiday season. Fry's Odd Squad (2013) is a great alternative to Wimpy Kid; there's more of a story, and more of a life lesson. Same is true here. What surprised me most about this is that Larry's grief is actually portrayed in a very realistic, constructive way, even though he also has his friend visiting as a ghost. The fact that his mother is concerned about him and has a therapist all lined up show that she is far more attuned than some parents in more literary novels! This teeters right on the edge of cheesy but never topples into it, which gives it an oddly unexpected poignancy. 
Weaknesses: Since I am still sad about losing my dog, Sylvie, as well as several members of my family, this made me unexpectedly weepy, and made me question if I would help ghosts move on. I regret to say that I don't think I would. The target demographic will not find this book gut wrenching in the same way I did, unless, of course, they too have lost a best friend.
What I really think: I'd love to see more cartoonists stretch into the area of middle grade novels. Still hoping to see one from Jump Start's Robb Armstrong. That's the dream. I will probably purchase this one even thought it made me personally sad. 

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like an intriguing premise. The ghost high jinks sound hilarious! It's also nice to see a parent who acts like a parent in MG.
    Thanks for featuring this!