Written & Illustrated by: Flavia Z. Drago
For Ages: 3 years and up
Topics Covered: Anxiety, Mexican Culture & Identity, Latinx, Day of the Dead, Friendship, Own Voices.
Summary: Gustavo is a little ghost that yearns to make friends with the other monsters, but he’s too nervous. He tries unsuccessfully to work up the courage, but Gustavo remains lonely and friendless. Gustavo decides that he needs to try something BIG in order to make a friend, and bravely invites everyone to a violin performance at the Día de los Muertos celebration in the graveyard. But will anyone show up?
This book is absolutely adorable, and I love that it deals with shyness and social anxiety. Making friends can be really difficult for kids, and having a book that normalizes it can make your own shy little reader feel seen. The artwork in this book is also absolutely gorgeous, and it’s lovely to have a Mexican creator make this book, as well as have it take place during such an important celebration. Flavia also wrote this story reminiscing on her own shyness, making it all the more relatable.
I would also just like to mention a reminder that Halloween and Día de los Muertos are not the same. The symbols sacred to Day of the Dead celebrations shouldn’t be appropriated for costumes or decorations, and instead can be appreciated by learning and reading delightful #ownvoices books such as this one.
This book was kindly sent by Candlewick Press, but all opinions are my own.
From her website:
“My name is Flavia Zorrilla Drago and I was born and raised in Mexico City. When I was a child my dream was to become a mermaid. Sadly that didn’t happen, but around the same age, something else did: I started drawing.
I started my career as a graphical designer and then I became an illustrator, which has given me the opportunity to live and travel doing what I love in different countries such as Spain, France, and England, where recently I graduated from the Children’s Book Illustration MA at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.
I consider myself a versatile illustrator who likes to work in all kinds of projects like: children’s books, branding, packaging, advertising, fashion, apps, lettering or character design. I love colour, textures and shapes and enjoy creating them with different materials and a bit of digital sorcery. My new dream is to become a picturebook author and to create stories of my own.
When I am not drawing I enjoy the normal things: cooking, running, spending time with the people I love, watching horror movies, and collecting odd medieval images and Soviet propaganda.”