Thursday, November 30, 2017

Graveyard Shakes by Laura Terry

Two stories run parallel in this debut graphic novel about making choices and being yourself. Sisters Katia and Victoria are attending boarding school after being homeschooled. Victoria is trying to fit in, hiding her love of sewing and working hard to be part of the activities while ignoring the bullying and snobbishness of the other kids. Her younger sister Katie, while musically talented is a wild child and refuses to go along with Victoria's plans, leading to a big fight between the sisters.

Meanwhile, a friendly ghost boy in the nearby cemetery is worried about his friend Modie. Neither dead nor alive, Modie is kept trapped in between by his father's dark magics, which require the periodic taking of another child's life every thirteen years. Now the most recent thirteen years are up - and Katia is in danger. It will take the combined efforts of the friendly Little Ghost, Victoria, Katia, and even Modie to keep Katia from becoming a victim of the dark wizard and his ghosts.

Terry has a brisk, colorful style that fits in well with what most of my kids like. A strong linear storyline, good coloring, and definite, sure lines. Parallels between Telgemeier and Jameison will of course be drawn, but Terry's creepy ghosts and creatures add a frisson of scary that's all her own. The story is a little overdrawn - it's hard to believe that so many of the other students are nasty and the teachers oblivious, not to mention the lack of interest in the periodic disappearance of children, but it's a fast-paced and action-packed story that will resonate both with devourers of graphic novels and those who feel on the outside of school cliques.

A theme of music runs through the book, which emphasizes the other theme of making choices. Katia has chosen to be who she is and not worry about fitting in or not. Friendly Little Ghost has chosen to retain some of his humanity, separating him from the other ghosts, since he keeps ties to the mortal world. Modie chooses to stop his father and accept his death, rather than continue stealing other children's lives to continue his existence. Victoria makes a choice between trying to pressure her sister to conform or support her for who she is.

Verdict: A good effort for a debut title. The parallel storylines are a little cramped and there are some threads left hanging at the end, but this is a good choice for kids who aren't old enough for Anya's Ghost and need some reassurance in embracing themselves - or for kids who like an action-packed graphic story.

ISBN: 9780545889551; Published October 10, 2017 by Scholastic Graphix; ARC provided by publisher; Purchased for the library

1 comment:

Jen Robinson said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I'm adding this to my daughter's wish list :-)