Leo: A Ghost Story — A Picture Book Review

Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett and Illustrated by Christian Robinson


Leo is a ghost who spends his days reading and creating drawings in the gathering dust of the old house in which he lives. He’s lived in the house for as long as he could remember. Big and drafty, Leo is lonely and wants desperately for a friend of his own. So when a new family moves in, Leo is thrilled at the possibility.

But after several attempts to befriend the family, he fails miserably. Even though they can’t see him, they are afraid of him. When the family tries to rid the house of Leo, he leaves without hesitation.

The outside world isn’t how Leo remembered it to be. His favorite candy story is no longer on the corner. It’s noisier and it’s scarier, even to a ghost like Leo. And even though he’s been roaming, he still hasn’t met anyone to be his friend.

That is, until he meets Jane.

Jane is a little girl who loves to play Knights of the Round Table. And when she meets Leo, she quickly knights him. Through this fantastical game, Leo is introduced to the other knights. They all may be knights, but they are different. Unlike Leo, these knights aren’t ghosts, they’re simply imaginary.

Jane must think Leo is imaginary too. Not wanting to scare his new friend, he let’s Jane think whatever she wants. But when a silver stealing thief creeps into Jane’s house, Leo takes matters into his ghostly hands. No only does she scare the their, but he corners him and traps him!

Leo may be a ghost … but that isn’t all he is. He’s also a friend. And not an imaginary one!

Leo: A Ghost Story, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Christian Robinson. The story of the lonely ghost who longs for a friend is sweet, tender, and above all beautiful.

Barnett’s writing is strong. Reader can’t help but be both engaged and engrossed in this ghostly tale. The words that fill the pages really breathe life into the story, making each and every reader relate to Leo and his pursuit of friends.

Beside the words, another facet that makes Leo: A Ghost Story great … the pictures!  Robinson’s illustrations are vivid and seem to pop off the page.  These full color spreads help readers, not only see the story unfold, but also connect to both the plot and the characters.

Leo: A Ghost Story is a truly endearing story. There is so much to love — from the writing to the illustrations to Leo himself. But one of the things that I love above all is how Barnett and Robinson took a subject – ghosts – that is thought to be scary and made it approachable. And beyond that, emotional.

I grew up reading “ghost” stories. And this one is by far one of the best I’ve read yet!

(cover image from GoodReads)

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