Leo A Ghost Story
by Marc Barnett
pictures by Christian Robinson
With Halloween less than a week away, I thought it seemed timely to share the ghost story of Leo. Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson have created something truly special. It was only published in August of this year but already it has been recognized as “One of the Most Anticipated Children’s Books of the Fall” by Publishers Weekly. Perhaps their chemistry as an author illustrator duo can be attributed to their friendship of four years prior to publishing this book together.
At the time, Mac had the outline of Leo’s story but hoped that one day Christopher might be able to complete his story with his unique illustrations. The pair really seems to understand that the story cannot rely on either the text or illustrations alone; they both understand the mark of a successful story is in the collaboration between author and illustrator, and in this case friends.
When I first picked up Leo’s story, I was reminded of Caspar the Friendly Ghost or Harold and the Purple Crayon. Christian Robinson’s artistic style is very similar to the personal style in Harold and the Purple Crayon. The blue color scheme is very appropriate for the story of a ghost and especially for Leo’s mood at the beginning of the story. I really appreciated how the colors lightened, specifically Leo’s coloring to match the changing mood of Leo and the story overall. Robinson made great use of the end-papers including visuals that expand the story and play to a child’s imagination. Robinson’s colors and characters are very iconic and memorable, lending the book to be very marketable and interactive.
Mac’s story itself is very interactive and lends itself to great classroom discussions and use. Leo and Jane’s friendship is a great story of acceptance trumping difference. Their relationship could be great for facilitating a discussion on what it means to be a good friend and as a springboard for what true acceptance looks like.
While many other decorations, costumes, and discussions may begin to get a little spooky this week, this book would be great to pull out in classrooms to lighten the mood and teach a few important lessons. Who knows? It could even be the inspiration for a great Halloween costume! Leo may be invisible to some, but you can be sure that his story is destined to be on display in bookstores across the country!