Kirkus Reviews QR Code
GHOULIA by Barbara Cantini


From the Ghoulia series, volume 1

by Barbara Cantini ; illustrated by Barbara Cantini ; translated by Anna Golding

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-4197-3293-5
Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

A lonely zombie makes new friends just by being herself—on Halloween.

Quelled by Auntie Departed’s warnings, young Ghoulia has always confined her outdoor play to the walled grounds of Crumbling Manor…until she eavesdrops on some living children and learns about Halloween. Taking advantage of this perfect opportunity to fit in, she sneaks out with her albino greyhound (and gifted hairdresser), Tragedy, for some trick-or-treating. Hearing her name as “Julia,” the costumed children welcome her. But when they compete to see who’s the scariest, Ghoulia forgets herself and does her “special scary move,” tossing her head in the air and catching it in one hand. The children stand wide-eyed through no fewer than three illustrations on three successive pages—and then welcome her with wild delight and agree to keep her secret from the grown-ups. From then on they become regular visitors to Crumbling Manor. In full-color pictures that take up all or most of every page, Cantini depicts her undead urchin Tim Burton–style, with stitched lips, gray skin, and purple shadows beneath huge eyeballs (everyone else appears white—or sheet white). Assisted by suggestive labels (“Creaky steps”; “A spider visiting from the attic”; “Painting of Grandad Coffin”), the manorial setting has an Addams Family vibe and provides just the right spooky setting for this series opener. Halloween-themed activities are included in the backmatter.

Younger readers will wish that they could toss their heads…or at least that they knew someone who could.

(Fantasy. 6-8)