Brosgol, Vera. 2011. ANYA’S GHOST. New York: Roaring Brook Press. ISBN 9781596437135 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
Anya is a Russian immigrant girl who, like most teens, is trying to assimilate. Her mother’s precautions and “”old ways” annoy her, her younger sibling is both endearing and an irritant, and she longs for a romantic relationship. When she falls down a well, she literally stumbles upon a piece of the past – a ghost who at first promises to fill a niche for Anya. The girl ghost helps Anya make good grades, she finagles a match-up between Anya and a popular boy, and she seems to “understand” Anya. When Anya realizes the ghost’s ulterior motive, the story takes a mysterious turn and Anya must decide just how much she is willing to sacrifice for her newfound popularity.
The black, white, and gray graphic illustrations set the appropriate tone, yet the roundness and clarity of the figures give a child-like quality. Thus the reader is left with an impression of both innocence and darkness, which is the perfect complement to the text. This is a classic example of what appeals to graphic novel fans – the aura of the story is achieved with precise coordination between text and pictures.
The antagonist in this story is a ghost from the past. Ask teens to analyze the roles of ghosts in other stories – both graphic novels and even in classic literature. What are some advantages to writing stories with a phantom villain as opposed to a mortal one? Why are ghost stories appealing to young readers? What makes a good ghost story?
Other graphic novels with a supernatural antagonist:
Kibuishi, Kazu. THE STONEKEEPER (AMULET series). ISBN 9780439846813
Kim, Susan. BRAIN CAMP. ISBN 1596433663
Tennapel, Doug. GHOSTOPOLIS. ISBN 9780545210287
By Rebecca S. McKee