Elem./MG – Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story Graphic Novel

Hahn, Mary Downing, and Scott Peterson, Meredith Laxton, and Russ Badgett. Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story Graphic Novel. Clarion Books, 2022. 978-0-358-53689-5. 148 p. $12.99. Grades 3-6.

Scott Peterson, Meredith Laxton, and Rudd Badget’s adaptation of Mary Downing Hahn’s Wait Till Helen Comes, is true to the original story of a blended family who move from the city to a church in the countryside. All is not harmonious in the family–the youngest child, Heather (step sister to older siblings Michael and Molly), continually creates tension by tattling and embellishing stories of her half siblings, successfully manipulating her father and stepmother. The tension only rises when Molly is the only one who can see that Heather has begun communicating with Helen, the ghost child of a family who, like Heather’s mother, died in a house fire. The problem is, the ghost child has the reputation of drowning her new friends. Molly has to find a way to get her family to believe in the ghost or save Heather from her fate.

THOUGHTS: This adaptation kept me turning the pages–and I predict it will fly off the shelves into the hands of thrill seekers and reluctant readers alike. The illustration style compliments the ghost story theme, and the adaptors’ combination of first person speech and narration successfully moves the story forward. The story is just scary enough to thrill a middle grade audience, and the evolving relationship within the blended family gives the story heart beyond the thrills. 

Graphic Novel          Hannah J. Thomas, Central Bucks SD

YA – Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel

Reynolds, Jason & Novgorodoff, Danica. Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel. Atheneum, 2020. 978-1-534-44495-9. 208 p. $19.99. Grades 10-12.

The seven floors that Will travels becomes even more of a punch in the gut with Novgorodoff’s eerie images. The story is the same; Will has to decide if he is going to follow the “rules” and kill the guy who killed his brother. During the sixty seconds it takes him to get to the ground floor, he meets someone who was connected to his brother in some way. Will gains access to more pieces of the puzzle with each encounter that is perfectly depicted with raw edged watercolor paintings. The graphic novel includes traditional panels as well as full page images that draw in readers, even those who know this story well.

THOUGHTS: For any library that is looking to expand their graphic novel collection with novel adaptations or more diversity, this book is a must. If Long Way Down is constantly checked out of your library, this could be a great segue for readers to appreciate the format of graphic novels with a terrifying story. Warning: There are images of guns and gore.

Graphic Novel          Samantha Hull, Ephrata Area SD