cover image Gustavo, the Shy Ghost

Gustavo, the Shy Ghost

Flavia Z. Drago. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1114-6

Mexican artist Drago’s picture book debut offers a gentle friendship tale and folk-art-style, textural mixed-media pictures. Gustavo, an ingenuous sheeted ghost who loves playing the violin, is so excruciatingly shy that “making friends was terrifying. Gustavo had never dared to speak to any of the other monsters.” He attempts to get close to them by hiding in plain sight, which makes for some quirky images (his visage appears on a balloon, a soccer ball, and a lampshade, among other objects), but the other kids “just couldn’t see him.” Gustavo bravely invites his peers to a cemetery violin concert on the Day of the Dead, and when “not a soul had come” he plays his music anyway. The kids, of course, eventually appear, apologizing for their tardiness, complimenting Gustavo’s performance, and asking him to “hang out” with them, precipitating a pat yet sweet ending. Ages 3–7. (July)