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Gustavo, the Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago

I have a collection of books that I often place into a basket labeled “Monsters, Ghouls, and Ghosts,” for readers who enjoy supernatural tales with a bit of spookiness. With a ghost as the protagonist, Gustavo, the Shy Ghost is a picture book that could certainly be put into such a book basket. But, from simply glancing at the cover, it’s hard to imagine Gustavo as anything less than charming, never mind spooky. Gustavo, in fact, teaches readers lessons that make this “ghost story” more of a “friendship story”.

Gustavo is in many ways a typical ghost – he glows in the dark, makes objects fly, and passes through walls. Gustavo, though, has a problem. He doesn’t have any friends and the thought of making them frightens him. No matter what he does, nobody notices him.

Wanting to fit in and make friends, Gustavo decides to invite the monsters to a violin concert at the Day of the Dead celebration. His bravery and his violin help him find the friendship he’s been longing for.

This is a whimsical story about making friends, being brave, and acceptance. The illustrations are a delight with details representing Mexican culture. Readers will notice more with each reread, including the many skulls sprinkled throughout the pages.

The author and illustrator, Flavia Z. Drago, lives in Mexico City. In this video, A Behind-the-Scenes Look with Creator Flavia Z. Drago, she gives insight into her creation process and the inspiration for the book.

This endearing book is a welcome addition to my collection of friendship books.

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