Leo, like any child, hopes for acceptance, but it’s hard to find friendship when one is a ghost.
Mystery (the delicious kind) clings to the faded wallpaper and soft blue glow of the title-page spread, as an arm and leg disappear into the wall, and readers are introduced to Leo on a double-page spread apparently empty of people. But then the author’s clever text includes readers in the secret, and Leo is revealed. An amiable and appealing child, Leo has spent many years alone in his home reading, until a new family moves in. Leo tries to welcome them; but alas! They want nothing to do with a ghost, and he’s forced to leave. Invisible and lonely, he roams until he encounters Jane, a girl with a beautiful, big imagination who invites him to play, assuming he’s one of her imaginary friends. Nervously, Leo tells Jane he’s not imaginary, that he’s real and a ghost, and this wonderful, accepting girl says that’s even better. The atmospheric illustrations, done in acrylic paint and pencil, seem simple, but there’s an authenticity and precision that is extremely sophisticated. Robinson creates a vintage 1950s-’60s feel, offering up a raw version of M. Sasek. Together, words and pictures construct a whimsical, delightful story that deeply respects the child. And in Jane, they create a brilliant heroine whose powers lie within her wit, her open mind, and her freedom of play.
Dazzling. (Picture book. 3-6)