Picture Book Reviews: The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt & Gustavo, the Shy Ghost

Have I got some wonderful new ghostly friends for you to meet! In today’s post, I have two new perfect-for-the-season picture books starring unforgettable ghosts! Courtesy of friends at Penguin Random House Canada and imprints Tundra Books and Candlewick Press, we’ll be taking a look at The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt by Riel Nason and Byron Eggenschwiler and Flavia Z. Drago’s Gustavo, the Shy Ghost. Happy reading!

Once there was a little ghost who was a quilt. 
He didn't know why he was a quilt. 
His mom and dad and all his friends were sheets.
-excerpt from The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt by Riel Nason and Byron Eggenschwiler 

And with this intriguing opening, so begins The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt, written by Riel Nason and illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler. While it may seem rather incredible for a ghost to be a quilt, readers soon learn that our protagonist doesn’t necessarily like being a standout. While his family and friends are sheets, “light as air” and able to fly and zoom, the little ghost has a cumbersome quilt to finagle. Even upon learning about family members who were checkered tablecloths and lace curtains, little ghost simply wishes he was “just one fabric and not whole a bunch of squares sewn together”. With ghost friends that tease and call him ‘Scrappy’, little ghost feels a bit down- until preparations for Halloween begin! With a bolder plan in place to get a much better view of all the excitement and joy of trick or treaters, little ghost decides to gently “fold himself over a chair on a porch” in a neighborhood with lots of activity. Only…things go more than slightly awry when our little ghost is accidentally shuffled into a wagon with a young child! An idiosyncratic story that ebbs and flows with surprises, The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt is a thoughtful and endearing story, with a marked nostalgic, old-world feel to it. Canadian author Riel Nason, a textile artist/quilter, offers readers gentle peaks into fabrics via the world of ghosts (so cleverly done!), while fine details of little ghost’s story and his surroundings are brought so beautifully to life by Canadian illustrator Byron Eggenschwiler. With a controlled palette featuring mostly gray, white, black, and sprinkles of orange, the little ghost is unmissable with his pretty quilt of patterns in blues, purples, and taupes. A beautifully imaginative and quaint tale, The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt is perfect for Halloween, and for those looking for a tender snuggle-up-and-read kind of story (…don’t forget to curl up with your favourite quilt or blanket!).

Written and illustrated by Mexican artist Flavia Z. Drago, Gustavo, the Shy Ghost is a marvelous debut picture book. Starring one of the sweetest, most disarming ghosts you will ever have the delight to meet, Gustavo, the Shy Ghost tells readers the tale of Gustavo’s attempts to be brave and make friends with the monsters in his town. Gustavo, he of rosy-cheeks and glowing in the dark, loves to play his violin…and he also has a rather overwhelming crush on a monster named Alma. But Gustavo is so deeply bashful that he hasn’t made friends with Alma or “any of the other monsters in town”! Quite literally blending into his surroundings with no one able to see or notice him, Gustavo feels at a loss. And alone. So he decides to take a very courageous step to make friends: by inviting them to hear him play the violin on the Day of the Dead. Will Gustavo be able to play the violin in front of a crowd? And will this adorable little ghost make some friends? Well, I will truly just have to leave that for you to discover! Overall, Flavia Z. Drago has crafted something so loving, so achingly charming and unique with her characters and with Gustavo’s story. The mixed media illustrations are lively and bright and will likely bring a big grin to your face, while the writing is fluid and appealing, building to a tremendously satisfying finale. Gustavo, the Shy Ghost is such a happy gift of a picture book, and will likely be appreciated and clamoured for throughout the year!

I received a copy of The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt courtesy of Tundra Books/Penguin Random House, and Gustavo, the Shy Ghost courtesy of Candlewick Press/Penguin Random House Canada. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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