Kirkus Reviews QR Code
GHOST WINGS by Barbara M. Joosse Kirkus Star


by Barbara M. Joosse & illustrated by Giselle Potter

Age Range: 3 - 8

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8118-2164-1
Publisher: Chronicle

Joosse’s (Alien Brain Fryout, 2000, etc.) sensitive tale of love, loss, and remembrance is set in a small Mexican town and intertwined with the lifecycle of monarch butterflies. A young girl and her grandmother have a special relationship: often, they walk through the woods to the Magic Circle, where the butterflies they love spend the winter. And grandmother is the only person who protects her from the monsters under the bed at night. One day, Grandmother “grew thin as smoke.” She was too tired to make tortillas and wanted to say goodbye to the butterflies that were ready to leave for the north. The butterflies left; Grandmother died; and the family grieved. Papa’s comforting words, “When you love someone they never leave,” are meaningless as the child struggles to hold on to her memories. It is only upon the return of the butterflies—who some believe carry the souls of the dead—that the girl can recapture her memories of Grandmother again. Joosse integrates the Mexican customs of honoring the dead during the holiday period known as the Days of the Dead into a narrative that deals with universal feelings about death. Potter’s (Kate and the Beanstalk, 2000, etc.) ink, watercolor, and colored-pencil illustrations suffused with pale, warm color complement and extend the text. The stylized drawings of people with oversized heads and expressive, round faces convey great emotion. Delicate butterflies flutter around the child and Grandmother, creating a mood of love and beauty. A beautiful book, suitable for group or individual sharing. It includes a discussion guide and information on the Days of the Dead and monarch butterflies. (Picture book. 3-8)