PPBF – Gustavo the Shy Ghost

I read a review of today’s Perfect Picture Book on Children’s Books Heal a few weeks ago, and I knew I had to find and review it during this spirit-filled season. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Title: Gustavo the Shy Ghost

Written & Illustrated By: Flavia Z. Drago

Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press/2020

Suitable for Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: Day of the Dead, Mexico, shyness, loneliness, friendship, ghosts

Opening:

Gustavo was a ghost. He enjoyed doing the normal things that paranormal beings do – passing through walls, making objects fly, and glowing in the dark.

Brief Synopsis: Gustavo, a ghost, loves to play the violin, but otherwise is very shy and must find the courage to make friends.

Links to Resources:

  • Gustavo glows when he plays the violin. What makes you glow with happiness?
  • The other monsters don’t notice Gustavo because he is invisible. Do you ever feel invisible? What do you do to get noticed by classmates, friends, or a sibling?
  • Check out the fun activities in the Activity Kit;
  • Try some Day of the Dead craft ideas.

Why I Like this Book:

Gustavo is such an endearing character with a problem that I think many kids will be able to relate to: shyness and feeling invisible. I found myself rooting for Gustavo in the scene in which he is afraid to join the other kids ordering eye-scream. And a scene with a sad-faced Gustavo alone on a teeter-totter made me want to hug him and tell him everything will be all right.

But mixed in with these empathy-inducing scenes are many funny things, too, like the scenes in which Gustavo tries to get the others to notice him by pretending to be other objects, including a balloon.

In addition to the unexpected and heartwarming ending, I think kids and their adults will love learning about the Day of the Dead celebrations during which this story unfolds. And Drago’s detailed and colorful artwork will have kids asking for many re-readings.

A Note about Craft:

In this debut picture book, Drago has created the perfect character to discuss a topic that will resonate with so many kids (and adults): feeling shy and invisible, but craving friendship. I think many of us have felt like a wallflower or an invisible creature at some point in our lives, and choosing a ghost to “display” these feelings is so perceptive. And having Gustavo excel and want to share a talent that involves hearing instead of sight is a terrific way to show kids that looks may not be everything.

Not only does Gustavo the Shy Ghost explore the problem of being shy but craving friendship, but anyone wanting to find out about the Day of the Dead festivities will learn so much by reading this picture book.

A Spanish-language version is also available. Also, for a fun surprise, peek under the dust jacket!

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

3 responses to “PPBF – Gustavo the Shy Ghost

  1. Thank you for the mention. I’m glad you loved the story! Many kids will identify with Gustavo. I really enjoyed your suggested links — especially the first one. And, I didn’t realize that their was a Spanish language version.

  2. This one is on my list!!! Thanks for the reminder…have to put it on my library hold….

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