Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Cat and her family move to foggy, windy Bahía de la Luna for her little sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis, since the new climate will be better for her health. Though she's initially distraught, Cat eventually settles in, but her next-door neighbor Carlos, who won't shut up about the ghosts that visit their town, is a constant thorn in her side. Bouncy, gregarious Maya is thrilled at the thought of meeting ghosts—they struggle to breathe, just like her, and she's eager to have some reassurances about death, since she knows hers is coming. But Cat is terrified, especially after Maya finally meets the ghosts and the exertion puts her in the hospital for weeks. Telgemeier deftly weaves serious topics through the breezy presentation and masterfully and concisely adds layers of meaning with small gestures that subtly nudge at feelings about death. Cat's and Maya's reactions to ghosts exemplify each girl's fear and acceptance, respectively, and their mother's wistful regrets over her relationship with her departed Mexican mother add yet another bittersweet perspective. The bright tones and wonderfully expressive figures of the racially diverse cast, not to mention the jaunty, friendly ghosts that waft over the windswept beach town, make this compassionate, approachable, and gentle story about death irresistible. Telgemeier has her finger on the pulse of middle-grade readers, and this might be her best yet. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: New Raina Telgemeier! Need we say more? OK, fine: this one comes with a six-figure first-print run. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

Ghost-obsessed neighbor Carlos teaches sisters Catrina and Maya (who has cystic fibrosis) about their new California town's traditions (townspeople are serious about Dma de los Muertos), sparking interest in their own Mexican roots. The graphic novel's pace builds to moments of high emotion, seen in enlarged panels or full-page illustrations. Notes on Dma de los Muertos (but not the cultural liberties taken) are appended. Copyright 2016 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Telgemeier presents modern magical realism in a graphic novel format. Almost-sixth-grader Catrina and her family move north from sunny Southern California to the foggy (fictional) town of Bahia de la Luna -- in part to make breathing easier for Cat's little sister Maya, who has cystic fibrosis. The sisters meet their ghost-obsessed neighbor Carlos, who teaches them about the town's traditions (the townspeople are serious about Dia de los Muertos and all things supernatural) and sparks a renewed interest in the kids' Mexican roots, especially their deceased abuela. When the girls meet ghosts face to face, the results are scary both physically and psychologically, with Maya's health declining and Cat's anxieties escalating. At the town's otherworldly (and theologically fuzzy) Day of the Dead celebration, the sisters get a chance to focus on the moment. The plot is paced steadily, building to moments of high emotion, often seen in enlarged panels or full-page illustrations. A muted color palette reflects the foggy, misty setting. Ghosts appear bed sheet–like from afar, but at close range resemble human skeletons with smiling faces, making them more approachable and even comforting than frightening. From sisterly squabbles to tween crushes, the characters' interactions feel genuine, with plenty of relatable dialogue and interests (e.g., gaming, texting, and pumpkin spice cosmetics). Notes on cystic fibrosis and Dia de los Muertos (but nothing about the cultural liberties taken) are appended. elisa gall September/October 2016 p 120

Kirkus Reviews

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family's move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.Dad has a new job, but it's little sister Maya's lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya's hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier's sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup. Telgemeier's bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2016 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Telgemeier's stirring graphic novel opens on moving day, as Cat's family travels from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna, a foggy village up the coast; Cat's younger sister, Maya, has cystic fibrosis and needs the sea air. While Cat is the worrier in the family, chronically ill Maya is an irrepressible optimist, her zest captured in the lyrics of her favorite song: "Let it out, let it out.... Can't hold it in, gotta shout." The village is obsessed with ghosts; their neighbor gives ghost tours, and there's an annual Día de los Muertos celebration. What's more, the ghosts are real. Telgemeier's floaty, sea green, protoplasmic beings are just as appealing as her human characters. They worry, grieve, and make jokes, and it's in learning to interact with them that Cat and Maya start to face the possibility that Maya might die. The complex relationship between the sisters is richly drawn—each feels almost unbearable compassion for the other's weakness. "José," Maya tells a child ghost, "if I die, Cat will be all alone. She's terrible at making friends." In her treatment of illness and death, Telgemeier (Sisters) nudges readers toward the edge of their comfort zone, but she never leaves them alone there. The story is consistently engaging, the plot is tightly built, and—as always—Telgemeier excels at capturing facial expressions, as when Maya's oxygen tube shocks Cat's new friends, or when Cat's cool façade melts into ecstasy as she tastes her neighbors' Mexican cooking. Death means sadness and loss, Cat and Maya learn, but it doesn't mean the end of love. Ages 8–12. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 4–8—Catrina and her family have just moved to Northern California. Bahía de la Luna is different from Cat's hometown—for one thing, everyone is obsessed with ghosts—but the sea air makes it easier for Cat's younger sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis (CF), to breathe. Carlos, a new friend and neighbor, introduces the girls to a different perspective on the spiritual world. Ghosts, he says, aren't frightening; they're the spirits of loved ones. Cat has her doubts—especially after a ghostly encounter puts Maya in the hospital—but as Day of the Dead celebrations draw closer, she starts to reconsider. Readers will relate to these realistically flawed characters. Maya is frank about her illness and optimistic despite her awareness that her prognosis is poor, while Cat struggles, feeling intensely protective of her sister, anxious about her illness, and resentful about the limitations that Maya's condition places upon the whole family. Themes such as the sibling bond, death, and culture are expertly woven throughout. As Cat comes to terms with the existence of ghosts, she also navigates her background (her father is white, while her mother is Mexican). Telgemeier employs the cheerful cartoon artwork that fans of Smile, Drama, and Sisters know and love, but her palette is more muted in places, fitting the book's somewhat serious and somber themes. VERDICT A can't-miss addition to middle grade graphic novel shelves; hand to fans of the author and newcomers alike.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

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