Middle Grade Monday: Graveyard Shakes

Graveyard Shakes by Laura Terry

Victoria and Katia aren’t accustomed to life in a big city. All they’ve known is a home on a goat farm. Their home is a home where they were free to be who they wanted to be and free to do whatever it is they chose to do.

But when they’re accepted into a fancy boarding school, both of their lives suddenly change. Older sister Victoria is worried about fitting in, while younger sister Katia is worried about losing her individuality (she is the lone wolf type).

Faced with the first day jitters, Victoria sets out to make, not only a new life for herself, but new friends. And in doing so, she embarrasses herself in front of … everyone. In the hopes of making things better she decides to sign both her and sister Katia up for some school clubs.

While Victoria finds the possibility of joining the soccer team exciting, Katia isn’t thrilled at the prospect of joining Orchestra. So much so that she storms out of the audition and into an oncoming blizzard.

Within that blizzard Katia finds a group of ghostly friends that she feels let her be who she wants to be. They don’t tell her what to do, nor do they tell her who she should be. They’re happy with Katia just as she is. Or so she thinks they’re happy with her. But their ghostly motives are dark and sinister. Their motives not only put Katia in harm’s way, but also Victoria.

Will the sisters survive? Or will they be the newest residents of the graveyard?

Graveyard Shakes, a middle grade graphic novel written and illustrated by Laura Terry, has all the chills and thrills for all adventurous readers!

What I personally loved about this graphic novel, besides the story itself, is how the story is told mostly through the illustrations. While this book isn’t wordless, it doesn’t necessarily rely on the text. Don’t get me wrong, Terry’s writing is strong, inviting, and imaginative. But more so are her lush illustrations.  The illustrations allow readers to step inside the mind and imagination of creator Terry.

The colors in each panel are vibrant and rich. More than that they lend to the underlying creep factor that is threaded throughout this book.

I feel like I could go one and on about the illustrations, especially since this is a graphic novel.  But I won’t. Instead I want to talk about another facet of this book that resonated with me as a reader. Main characters Victoria and Katia. While I loved how Katia strived to maintain her lone wolf status, and how she celebrated her individuality, I truly appreciated Victoria. At a young age I think we all go through that phase where, as much as we want to be an individual, we also want to fit in. I love how author/illustrator Terry explored that, and explored it in a way that was honest and relatable.

This facet let me, as an adult reader, reflect on that time period in my own life. And it made me think about how those formative years shaped the person I am today. I think younger readers will see a lot of themselves within both main characters. More than that, they will cheer for them.

Graveyard Shakes was a book I picked up at a local comic bookstore. It was a book I picked up because I was drawn to the beautiful cover. And after reading it, I’m so glad that I judge books by their covers, because this is one of the best ones I’ve read lately!

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