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Leo: A Ghost Story

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You would like being friends with Leo. He likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can't even see him. Because Leo 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 You would like being friends with Leo. He likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can't even see him. Because Leo 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. This charming tale of friendship—from two of the best young minds in picture books: the author of the Caldecott Honor–winning Extra Yarn and the illustrator of the Bologna Ragazzi Award–winning Josephine—is destined to become a modern classic that will delight readers for years to come.


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You would like being friends with Leo. He likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can't even see him. Because Leo 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 You would like being friends with Leo. He likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can't even see him. Because Leo 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. This charming tale of friendship—from two of the best young minds in picture books: the author of the Caldecott Honor–winning Extra Yarn and the illustrator of the Bologna Ragazzi Award–winning Josephine—is destined to become a modern classic that will delight readers for years to come.

30 review for Leo: A Ghost Story

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kenny

    "For many years, Leo lived by himself in a house on the edge of the city, reading books and drawing pictures in the dust." Mac Barnett ~~ Leo: A Ghost Story With Autumn approaching, and Halloween around the corner, it is the perfect time to read Leo: A Ghost Story. I absolutely adore this book! If Leo: A Ghost Story had been around when I was a kid, it would have been one of my favorite books. I loved this book and had a huge smile on my face as I read it. When Leo, a ghost, finds the new inhabita "For many years, Leo lived by himself in a house on the edge of the city, reading books and drawing pictures in the dust." Mac Barnett ~~ Leo: A Ghost Story With Autumn approaching, and Halloween around the corner, it is the perfect time to read Leo: A Ghost Story. I absolutely adore this book! If Leo: A Ghost Story had been around when I was a kid, it would have been one of my favorite books. I loved this book and had a huge smile on my face as I read it. When Leo, a ghost, finds the new inhabitants of his house unwelcoming, he takes to the streets. Luckily, he encounters the fantastically fun Jane, who believes he is an imaginary friend ... This is Leo, who is a obviously a ghost; we never learn his back story or how he came to be alone in the house. When we meet Leo he is content and happy and smiling. While this is a ghost story, it’s much more a story of friendship and acceptance. It is also a tender story with a bittersweet edge to it. After years of living alone in the big house, a family moves in, thrilling Leo. He openly welcomed the new family into his home, but, the family was scared and desperate and a little bit hateful of their housemate, so Leo hits the road as a roaming ghost. What I love about this is Leo gave up his home and everything he loved so that this family would be comfortable in his own house. We're not sure how long Leo wanders, but he is a lonely ghost in a foreign world, for we find out that his town has changed considerably since Leo became a ghost. But luckily, there's Jane, our plucky heroine, who can see Leo when others can't and believes him to be her imaginary friend. Jane loves dogs, dragons, and castles. Soon, Leo finds himself knighted and playing Knights of the Round Table with his new friend. It is a beautiful start to their friendship. So much more happens, but I will not spoil the adventures that await the friends. What I will say, is the next time you are the library grab this from the shelves and read it. You'll be enchanted with the adventures of Sir Leo the Ghost & King Jane. The only thing that could make this better is that we get sequel after sequel after sequel following Leo and Jane.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    This is a great stoy about friendship, imagination, honesty, and acceptance. Although there is a ghost it is not scary at all, unless you have already made your tiny tot terrified of the mere word, in which case you are shit parent. The illustrations are not in a style that is usually a favorite for me, but I found these charming. I totally want to play Knights of the Round Table and have tea parties with these awesome kids. This is a great stoy about friendship, imagination, honesty, and acceptance. Although there is a ghost it is not scary at all, unless you have already made your tiny tot terrified of the mere word, in which case you are shit parent. The illustrations are not in a style that is usually a favorite for me, but I found these charming. I totally want to play Knights of the Round Table and have tea parties with these awesome kids.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aesaan

    A beautiful little story about honesty and acceptance. Leo, an unwanted ghost is all by himself, aimlessly wanders about until he befriends Jane - and things change. Kids will love this... - in fact, I want more of Jane and Leo. 4.5 stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    Leo, the ghost whom most people can't see, leaves his home when the new inhabitants make him feel unwanted. Wandering the city, he finds a friend, one who thinks he's imaginary. He can't tell her he's really a ghost or else he'll scare his first friend in years (decades? CENTURIES?) away. Much like Mog the Forgetful Cat, Leo saves the day and earns respect. There are so many subtle, positive messages in this story, creeping into the brain through the eyes. Leo's new friend, Jane, is a black girl who Leo, the ghost whom most people can't see, leaves his home when the new inhabitants make him feel unwanted. Wandering the city, he finds a friend, one who thinks he's imaginary. He can't tell her he's really a ghost or else he'll scare his first friend in years (decades? CENTURIES?) away. Much like Mog the Forgetful Cat, Leo saves the day and earns respect. There are so many subtle, positive messages in this story, creeping into the brain through the eyes. Leo's new friend, Jane, is a black girl who has a huge imagination (and also wears the ponytail balls in her hair and I wanted those sooo badly when I was little but my mom couldn't make them work so I was just envious of all the girls who could wear them, a memory which surfaced when I saw Jane, but in a lovingly sentimental way, no spite at all). Leo was a white kid when he was alive and he admits that the city has changed a lot but he's not hesitant to talk to this girl who can see him, this girl who plays games in her room or in the yard instead of hanging out with technology. She'd prefer dragons and knights of the Round Table! Oh, my heart! I love this child so much! Leo is worried he will lose his friend if she finds out his truth. Jane's a much better friend than that, though. There are police women, non-methy white burglars thieving a black household, and despite the monochromatic illustrations having a decidedly '50's feel, some women wear pants! And Jane wears full-body pajamas, not a cutesy little nightdress! None of those things are central to the story but they're there, quietly informing young minds about the world and I thought that was pretty cool.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I’m kicking off my Halloween fun today! Let the haunting begin with... A new Mac Barnett book! :) Leo is a ghost. Not everyone can see ghosts. Not everyone can see Leo. But Leo was lonely and needed a friend. So he floats off roaming the city in search of a new home and friend. People walk on by or through him without looking or noticing though. Can Leo find that someone special? Someone that sees him? Sees him for who he really is. Shades of blue, black, and white bring Leo’s tale to light on the p I’m kicking off my Halloween fun today! Let the haunting begin with... A new Mac Barnett book! :) Leo is a ghost. Not everyone can see ghosts. Not everyone can see Leo. But Leo was lonely and needed a friend. So he floats off roaming the city in search of a new home and friend. People walk on by or through him without looking or noticing though. Can Leo find that someone special? Someone that sees him? Sees him for who he really is. Shades of blue, black, and white bring Leo’s tale to light on the page. Blue pages from beginning to end create almost an aged look to the pages at times and a glow on others. Leo’s big eyes, bow, and little smile GLOWED! I adored his smiling face and gentle soul. Leo will teach readers of all ages the power and joy of friendship. Remind us all to cherish the friends that love and see us for who we are in this world. Go share this story with a friend along with a cup of mint tea and a plate of cookies.

  6. 5 out of 5

    KC

    An interesting tale of Leo, who happens to be a ghost and his antics.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    Leo is a ghost who has "lived" in his house a long, long time. When he accidentally scares the new owners of the home, he leaves to look for a new place. He finds that things have certainly changed since he was alive, but friendship is always in style. I love the monochromatic artwork by Christian Robinson. Leo is a ghost who has "lived" in his house a long, long time. When he accidentally scares the new owners of the home, he leaves to look for a new place. He finds that things have certainly changed since he was alive, but friendship is always in style. I love the monochromatic artwork by Christian Robinson.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Illustrated in shades of blue and starring a sweet faced boy ghost, Leo is left wandering the streets after the new owners of his home make it clear he is not wanted. Thank goodness for Jane, who dubs him her best imaginary friend. After catching a thief in her house, Leo reveals he is actually a ghost. Jane's reply? "Well that's even better." 4.5 stars Illustrated in shades of blue and starring a sweet faced boy ghost, Leo is left wandering the streets after the new owners of his home make it clear he is not wanted. Thank goodness for Jane, who dubs him her best imaginary friend. After catching a thief in her house, Leo reveals he is actually a ghost. Jane's reply? "Well that's even better." 4.5 stars

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    Mac is on point as usual. Read aloud to me by a friend's son made me appreciate it more than if I had read it alone. Mac is on point as usual. Read aloud to me by a friend's son made me appreciate it more than if I had read it alone.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Benji Martin

    Originally posted at The Tales of an Elementary Librarian. https://byhopewesteer.wordpress.com/2... Last year, after our yearly author visit, I was driving through downtown Montgomery to have dinner with my wife (in the passenger seat) and Mac Barnett ( in the back seat). At some point, my wife made a comment about the quality of my driving,and the danger that I was putting our guest in. Morbidly amused, but also genuinely curious, I turned to Mac and asked, “If we did all die in a fiery crash to Originally posted at The Tales of an Elementary Librarian. https://byhopewesteer.wordpress.com/2... Last year, after our yearly author visit, I was driving through downtown Montgomery to have dinner with my wife (in the passenger seat) and Mac Barnett ( in the back seat). At some point, my wife made a comment about the quality of my driving,and the danger that I was putting our guest in. Morbidly amused, but also genuinely curious, I turned to Mac and asked, “If we did all die in a fiery crash tonight, how many books do you have finished that would still be published posthumously?” He laughed and started counting on his fingers. After a moment, he said, “Seven. I have seven books that would be published.” I was amazed by this. Most authors I know are working on their next book, in hopes that it will be sold by their agent. A few have two or three sold ahead of time, but haven’t written them yet, and even less have two or three finished waiting for publication, but SEVEN?! That says a lot about Mac, about how much creative juice he has stored up in that brain, and how tirelessly he works to churn these books out. And let me tell you a secret, THEY’RE ALL GOOD! It’s a little bit ridiculous how much talent can be stored in one person. Anyways, Leo: A Ghost Story, along with The Skunk, was one those seven books. It’s about Leo, a ghost who has lived by himself in an empty house for a long time. One day, a new family moves in, but they can’t see Leo, and he freaks them out a little bit. The family hires a psychic, a clergyman and a scientist to get rid of Leo, but he knows that he isn’t welcome, and leaves on his own, searching for a home and more importantly, for a friend. Mac immediately establishes a connection with the reader by breaking the fourth wall and allowing them to see Leo with the first page turn when not many others in the story can see him. It makes Leo seem real and present. Christian Robinson’s illustrations are simple and fun, melancholy at times, and joyful at others. They work perfectly with the text. My favorite illustration is from the part of the story when Leo has just found his first real friend. In the end, I think it’s a great story. It may not be an instant classic like Extra yarn, and it may not be a profound puzzler like Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and The Skunk, but it is a heart-warming story about friendship, imagination and finding a place to call home. I love it, and think most kids will too. I’ve seen other reviewers recommending the book for ages 4-6, but I think kids much older than that will love it. I’ll be reading it to everyone, all the way up to my fifth graders. So I guess, I think it’s good for ages 4-10.

  11. 5 out of 5

    M. Lauritano

    Coming from two of my favorites in the picture book world I had HIGH expectations for this one. Unfortunately, Mac Barnett, genius that he is, let me down. Christian Robinson can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned, but I do prefer his less monochromatic work. The illustrations are fresh, evocative, and cute as usual. The story, though. Hm. It has some pacing and/or focus issues for me. The narrative feels front heavy. If the ultimate focus is the friendship between Leo and Jane and how their lif Coming from two of my favorites in the picture book world I had HIGH expectations for this one. Unfortunately, Mac Barnett, genius that he is, let me down. Christian Robinson can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned, but I do prefer his less monochromatic work. The illustrations are fresh, evocative, and cute as usual. The story, though. Hm. It has some pacing and/or focus issues for me. The narrative feels front heavy. If the ultimate focus is the friendship between Leo and Jane and how their life situations fit together, she deserved more pagetime. Of course I appreciate the appearing act orchestrated in the first two spreads, but part of me questions that usage of space for a narrative that ultimately is about two characters. The same sentiments go for the funny family interaction and exorcism scenes. I might have just begun the book with Leo, wandering and lost; unseen. Those pictures were too good to lose. I also wondered if the thwarted robbery could have been more drawn out and suspenseful, but it was managed well enough. The final resolution though, definitely feels too quick to me. Maybe it's just my taste, but I think this would have worked better as an early reader. Break all the funny or sad incidents into their own brief chapters, keep the language simple. There's certainly something original in a tale of a ghost mistaken for an imaginary friend. The tone of the story almost feels as if it is being told by a precocious child. A majority probably think that means it's great writing for a picture book, but I'm not convinced. Picture books should not have to feel like they are the creations of, or in the spirit of children. Some bookmakers have achieved that goal well with depth and humor, but Leo: A Ghost Story doesn't make the cut. Everyone else seems to like this book though, so I sincerely hope Barnett and Robinson work together again and try to top this effort.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    Leo the ghost lived a life of quiet solitude in an abandoned house on the edge of the city, until the day a new family moved in. Hoping to ingratiate himself with these new housemates, Leo prepared them mint tea and honey toast, only to unintentionally terrify them with his actions. Leaving his long-time home, Leo becomes a wandering ghost, searching for something - for some sort of connection. Meeting a young girl named Jane on a sidewalk, Leo finds a companion, one who can see him, but who mis Leo the ghost lived a life of quiet solitude in an abandoned house on the edge of the city, until the day a new family moved in. Hoping to ingratiate himself with these new housemates, Leo prepared them mint tea and honey toast, only to unintentionally terrify them with his actions. Leaving his long-time home, Leo becomes a wandering ghost, searching for something - for some sort of connection. Meeting a young girl named Jane on a sidewalk, Leo finds a companion, one who can see him, but who mistakes him for an imaginary friend. Delighted to have finally found a friend, Leo is torn - should he tell Jane that he is not what she thinks, and risk losing her? When a house-breaker targets Jane's house, Leo finds the decision has been made for him... An engaging picture-book from author Mac Barnett, whose many amusing tales include Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem and Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World , and illustrator Christian Robinson, who just won a Caldecott Honor this past month for Last Stop on Market Street , Leo: A Ghost Story explores the themes of loneliness, friendship and honesty. I read it together with two other titles featuring imaginary friends - The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend and Imaginary Fred - and was struck by the fact that all three books address the longing for connection, in their diverse ways. Perhaps imaginary friends make a good story-telling vehicle for such explorations? In any case, this was a sweet tale made all the better by Robinson's illustrations, done in acrylic paint and cut-out paper, in varying shades of blue, brown and black. I appreciated the fact that Jane is a dark-skinned young girl - too many of the more diverse picture-books out there are message-driven, and not enough are fanciful - but that this is not a narrative (or artistic) focus. It emphasizes that African-Americn children (that all kinds of children) lead rich imaginative lives, without drawing undue attention to the lesson. Recommended to young readers who enjoy (gentle) ghost-stories, and tales of imaginative play.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shadowdenizen

    Found reviews of this on my feed, and so picked up the Kindle version on a whim. (And a big thanks to everyone who reviews books like this! Your reviews are noticed and appreciated, and, even though I keep up with kids lit, it's unlikely I would have found this on my own!!) :) What a charming little title! The simple story is deeper than it seems at first, about the power of perception, the innocence of childhood, and the longing to fit in. And the adorable artwork really serves to enhance the ef Found reviews of this on my feed, and so picked up the Kindle version on a whim. (And a big thanks to everyone who reviews books like this! Your reviews are noticed and appreciated, and, even though I keep up with kids lit, it's unlikely I would have found this on my own!!) :) What a charming little title! The simple story is deeper than it seems at first, about the power of perception, the innocence of childhood, and the longing to fit in. And the adorable artwork really serves to enhance the effect of the story. I'm hoping we get lots more "Leo" (and Jane!) stories to come.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    A lifeless story about the ghost of a child who gets evicted from his house and then confused for an imaginary friend. The plot lost me when a burglar was tossed in from nowhere to create some artificial action, drama, and resolution. Hackneyed.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie

    This book feels instantly classic: the retro illustrations paired with a timeless tale of finding friends who really see you. Leo's loyalty and gentle soul are so lovable. Mint tea and honey toast for the masses! This book feels instantly classic: the retro illustrations paired with a timeless tale of finding friends who really see you. Leo's loyalty and gentle soul are so lovable. Mint tea and honey toast for the masses!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Super cute story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Charming and very different. The style and pictures are very unique, and the story went with them perfectly. I would not at all be surprised to see this win a Caldecott.

  18. 5 out of 5

    stefiereads

    I need a physical copy!! This story is so heartwarming. It’s about friendship, about how sometimes leaving some things behind could lead you to better things. I feel like there’s so much positive things that we can take from this book. So beautiful and... yeah.... can someone get me a copy?! 🥺🖤😛 Seriously, read it!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    So so so cute, with adorable characters and simple but detailed artwork. Plus, I love the narrator of the audiobook.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I wouldn't read this to just every child: there's a spooky element here that might raise questions. But the story of loneliness and finding friendship is delightful, and reminds me a lot of The Adventures of Beekle. Visually, the story couldn't be more different, though. Leo features much darker colors and a flat (literally two-dimensional, not boring), more childlike feel to the style, whereas Beekle is crisper and rounder and brighter. Update: We checked this out a second time, and I read it t I wouldn't read this to just every child: there's a spooky element here that might raise questions. But the story of loneliness and finding friendship is delightful, and reminds me a lot of The Adventures of Beekle. Visually, the story couldn't be more different, though. Leo features much darker colors and a flat (literally two-dimensional, not boring), more childlike feel to the style, whereas Beekle is crisper and rounder and brighter. Update: We checked this out a second time, and I read it to the kiddos. The three-year-old shares the ghost's name, so I was a little apprehensive about his reaction. But pretty early on in the story, he loudly declared that he himself was NOT a ghost. And other than that, they loved the story and have asked for it a few times. Especially as we start up a new school year, Leo the ghost is a great example of finding friends, both real and imaginary. And I enjoyed the illustrations even more the second time through. While spooky, they still evoke a rather cheery atmosphere.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Roberts

    Somewhat surprising. An unexpected friendship story, but not the caliber of Gus the Friendly Ghost and its ilk. Illustration style greatly adds to the story.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Owen Townend

    A very sweet kind of spookiness. Leo: A Ghost Story is the tale of a true lost soul, looking for companionship after a long and lonely haunt. Without giving too much of the plot away, he finds a friend though there is a misunderstanding that must be a fairly common occurrence among ghosts. The dangers of being so transparent, I suppose... I liked Robinson's angular illustration, which put me in mind of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and the use of blues struck me as moody but in a rather endearing way. A very sweet kind of spookiness. Leo: A Ghost Story is the tale of a true lost soul, looking for companionship after a long and lonely haunt. Without giving too much of the plot away, he finds a friend though there is a misunderstanding that must be a fairly common occurrence among ghosts. The dangers of being so transparent, I suppose... I liked Robinson's angular illustration, which put me in mind of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and the use of blues struck me as moody but in a rather endearing way. The faint crayon-like scrawl of Leo's form is perfect and the scope of his adventure surprising. Who new a little spirit could go such a long way? I recommend Leo: A Ghost Story to parents who want to ease their little ones into haunting tales.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stephane Savoy

    Wish I could get Leo to come and visit me... lovely tale of a friendly ghost

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kate Atherton

    The cover looks like the NPR logo...was that done on purpose or subconsciously? This book is charming and has a story structure that keeps you guessing what is going to happen and what the resolution will be ; not one of those one, two, three punch kids stories. The best element of this story is the illustration of the little boy ghost Leo, done often on vellum that overlaps other things and characters. It has a very quick but polished hand drawn feel that I admire.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    A ghost gets mistaken as an imaginary friend. This is so cute!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Very cute! A ghost finds a place to belong.

  27. 4 out of 5

    RLL22017 Flora Zayas

    Leo, we quickly find out, is a ghost who is eager for friends. The problem is he is invisible to everyone around him. After being confined as a "house ghost" with no success, he ventures out into the city. Finally, he is seen by a little girl named Jane. Leo and Jane become friends immediately. They play (view spoiler)[ knights at the round table, slay a dragon, and have a "glorious feast." When Jane is called away for dinner, Leo finds out that she thinks he is imaginary. He becomes so worried Leo, we quickly find out, is a ghost who is eager for friends. The problem is he is invisible to everyone around him. After being confined as a "house ghost" with no success, he ventures out into the city. Finally, he is seen by a little girl named Jane. Leo and Jane become friends immediately. They play (view spoiler)[ knights at the round table, slay a dragon, and have a "glorious feast." When Jane is called away for dinner, Leo finds out that she thinks he is imaginary. He becomes so worried to tell her the truth- that he is a ghost- for fear that she will run away. Later that night, a "sneak thief" breaks into the house. How does Leo stop the thief? Does Jane every find out Leo is a ghost? Pick up the story and find out. (hide spoiler)] Barnett did not receive any awards for this book. Nor did Robinson for the images. This book is recommended for kindergarten thru 2nd grade. Some activities include drawing Leo's family, writing about imaginary friends, talking about pros and cons of imaginary friends, and using the books as a segway into castles and knights.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Colleen McDonough

    Leo, a house ghost, tries to befriend a new family that moves in his home but ends up scaring them since they cannot see him. Leo decides to become a roaming ghost and looks for a new friend. However, no one can see Leo so he becomes lonely. Finally Leo comes across Jane, a little girl with a big imagination who sees Leo and treats him like her other imaginary friends. Although the tone of the book is light and tells a story of friendship, the illustrations have a bit of a spooky feel to them be Leo, a house ghost, tries to befriend a new family that moves in his home but ends up scaring them since they cannot see him. Leo decides to become a roaming ghost and looks for a new friend. However, no one can see Leo so he becomes lonely. Finally Leo comes across Jane, a little girl with a big imagination who sees Leo and treats him like her other imaginary friends. Although the tone of the book is light and tells a story of friendship, the illustrations have a bit of a spooky feel to them being all black, blue, and white. I really liked the character of Jane, a girl who is truly herself and accepting of others. She proclaims herself the king in their game of Knights of the Round Table. When Leo finally admits to Jane that he is a ghost and not an imaginary friend, she responds "Well that's even better". Young children will really enjoy this twist on a ghost story and tale of friendship. I found this book from the Ted Talk we watched for class by the author, Mac Barnett.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary Sullivan

    "Leo: A Ghost Story," by Mac Barnett, with pictures by Christian Robinson is about a ghost named Leo in the form of a little boy, with a friendly nature similar to that of another well-known spirit, Casper. We should all be so lucky as to move into a home, where a gracious host makes mint tea and honey toast for company. But such hospitality is lost on the family that moves into the well-meaning ghost's house, where he has resided peacefully for years, "reading books and drawing pictures in the "Leo: A Ghost Story," by Mac Barnett, with pictures by Christian Robinson is about a ghost named Leo in the form of a little boy, with a friendly nature similar to that of another well-known spirit, Casper. We should all be so lucky as to move into a home, where a gracious host makes mint tea and honey toast for company. But such hospitality is lost on the family that moves into the well-meaning ghost's house, where he has resided peacefully for years, "reading books and drawing pictures in the dust." They see a floating tray and not Leo, which makes him a threat. Sensing that he is not wanted, he ventures into the city, whose inhabitants also cannot see him, save for a little girl named Jane, who is drawing with sidewalk chalk. She befriends him and together they play games such as Knights of the Round Table with imaginary friends, such as Sir Ruffs, a loyal dog, clad in armor. Together they go on daring adventures of make-believe, wielding swords and slaying a dragon. But there is a catch. Jane thinks Leo is imaginary. He is hesitant to tell her that he's a ghost, for fear it will scare her away and their good times together will come to an end. But in an act of bravery, the true nature of Leo's existence is revealed, as are Jane's feelings about their friendship. This sweet ghost story is illustrated by Mr. Robinson in shades of blue using acrylic paint and cutout construction paper. It feels like a creative art project and the story meanders freely from the tale of a haunted house, to a story about imaginary friends and finally a crime caper, among other genres. It has the same liberated nature as a child making up a story, which makes it perfect for its young audience. Also perfect for this crowd is good-hearted Leo, with his small, see-through frame, bow tie, and bangs. He is a curious child whose interests are reflected in a boyhood room that is both contemporary and of another time. It is filled with timeless treasures such as books, a rocking horse, train set and model sailboat, but also a candelabra instead of a lamp. I was sad that he had to leave such a charming refuge behind, but I understood that he needed to be "a roaming ghost," for a while because in the words of J.R.R Tolkien, "Not all those who wander are lost." You have to find your place in the world and people who accept you for who you truly are. (That sense of connection is not dependent on the color or transparency of one's skin either, as Jane has deeper blue skin and braids, seeming to reflect an African American identity). No one likes to feel invisible. That is the journey of everyone who is "real."

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Most adorable ghost story you'll ever read. Sometimes the illustrations for this book were so damn adorable, I pulled the same smiley face the main character was pulling. Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson create such a unique little story and empathetic characters, that I feel like children would get heavily invested in this picture book as well, and outwardly emote in reaction to the story as it goes. Christian Robinson's decision to use papercutting and coloured pencil to illustrate this book Most adorable ghost story you'll ever read. Sometimes the illustrations for this book were so damn adorable, I pulled the same smiley face the main character was pulling. Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson create such a unique little story and empathetic characters, that I feel like children would get heavily invested in this picture book as well, and outwardly emote in reaction to the story as it goes. Christian Robinson's decision to use papercutting and coloured pencil to illustrate this book, might have created a flat looking image created by just any old illustrator, but the way he wonkily and boldly cuts shapes and draws around them, makes the illustration as engaging as the text. I also enjoyed how he slightly changed his style for each character, and while the blues in this create a quite melancholy tone for a ghost story, the bold, blocky shapes interact this and become a tool to engage the audience. His pencil drawings feel natural, and don't feel at all like they've been planned out carefully like they probably have done. Although Robinson could have done that and I am envious. I highly recommend this book if you are feeling slightly down in some way, as it will definitley make you feel joyful feelings.

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