Title: Anya's Ghost
Author and Illustrator: Vera Brosgol
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: June, 2011
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Graphic Novel
Summary: Anya isn't exactly the most popular girl in school. She has one friend and they spend most of their time skipping class and feigning interest. She'd give anything to be more popular and be noticed by Sean, the basketball player, but that doesn't seem likely. She is ashamed of her Russian heritage and wishes she could look like Elizabeth who doesn't even have to try. But then when she falls down a well and spends 2 days hanging out with a skeleton and the ghost of a girl who has been dead for over a century, her life changes. At first it seems like a blessing because it is really helpful to have a friend no one else can see who can help you pass tests and get a cute boy's phone number. It all seems so perfect, but is it?
What I Think: My summary and thoughts cannot do this graphic novel justice. First, Neil Gaiman has a blurb on the front! He calls it a masterpiece, so obviously it is going to be good. And it was. This graphic novel is brilliant. It is funny, smart, real and creepy all rolled into one. Vera does a perfect job showing the angst of living as a teenager. Anya represents just about every teenage girl I can think of because she is trying to find her identity (even more specifically, her identity within her ethnicity). I knew the ghost was going to show up at some point and I was skeptical that it would work out, but it did. The ghost just gave Anya one more thing she had to overcome to find herself. I also love the artwork. It reminds me a bit of Raina Telgemeier's artwork (who is another one of my favorite graphic novel artists) in that it is clean and bold yet cartoony with minimal shading and looks like it could easily be turned into an animated work. Also, the format was easy to follow and the font was very legible. So, overall, I am a big fan.
Read Together: Grades 7 to 12
Read Alone: Grades 7 to 12
Read With: Smile by Raina Telgemeier, Death Note series by Tsugumi Ohba, Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch
Snatch of Text:
Reading Strategies to Practice: Inference, Predicting, Making Connections
Writing Strategies to Practice: Paneling, Dialogue
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life where you felt like you didn't fit in. After writing your personal narrative, circle all of the actions or distinctive events, highlight all of the dialogue and begin paneling your personal narrative as a short comic strip.
Topics Covered: Identity, Friendship, Conformity, Immigrant Experience