Marjorie Glatt feels like a ghost. A practical thirteen-year-old in charge of the family laundry business, her daily routine features unforgiving customers, unbearable P.E. classes, and the fastidious Mr. Saubertuck who is committed to destroying everything she’s worked for.
Wendell is a ghost. A boy who lost his life much too young, his daily routine features ineffective death therapy, a sheet-dependent identity, and a dangerous need to seek purpose in the forbidden human world.
When their worlds collide, Marjorie is confronted by unexplainable disasters as Wendell transforms Glatt’s Laundry into his midnight playground, appearing as a mere sheet during the day. While Wendell attempts to create a new afterlife for himself, he unknowingly sabotages the life that Marjorie is struggling to maintain.
- Title: Sheets
- Author/Illustrator: Brenna Thummler
- Publisher: Lion Forge
- ISBN: 194130267X
- Publication Date: August 28, 2018
- For Ages: 9-12
- Category: Middle Grade
- Spooky-Scary or Spooky-Fun? 😿 Spooky-Sad.
I’d like to thank Lion Forge for providing an advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Sheets is a moving exploration of grief, depression, friendship, and fear. Brenna Thummler’s art, with its subdued colors and soft lines, perfectly captures the melancholy world of Marjorie Glatt, who is barely holding her family together after the loss of her mother in a tragic accident. She is single-handedly running her family laundromat business and raising her little brother while their father shuts himself off in his room to deal with his grief. When young ghost Wendell shows up, seeking connection in the human world, he unwittingly jeopardizes Marjorie’s business and throws her world into further turmoil.
The story moves quickly, and Thummler accomplishes quite a bit with wordless panels; when she does write dialogue or provide exposition, she wastes nothing. The grief and pain that the characters feel are palpable, but the story is never cloying. Nor is it judgmental — it’s easy to feel frustrated and angry with Marjorie’s father, but Thummler doesn’t portray him as a villain. He’s simply another person who doesn’t know what to do with the grief that’s swallowing him whole.
There is a villain in this piece — the odious Mr. Saubertuck, an oily Scooby-Doo baddie who wants to force out the Glatts so he can buy their property for pennies on the dollar — but there is also a hero: Marjorie. Throughout the story, in the face of all of her hardships, she remains resilient, strong, and kind. I don’t say that to inspire you, though, because this is not an inspiring story; it’s a sad one. There are a few subtle moments when Thummler drives the dagger particularly deep into the reader’s heart, but she does it so artfully that you can’t help but thank her for it.
This is a sad story, but it is also sweet and beautiful and, yes, haunting. With this elegiac ghost story, Brenna Thummler announces her original debut as a unique, assured voice in children’s literature and in comics. Sheets is a book that lingers…Marjorie and Wendell are going to stay with me for a long, long time.
This is on my Best of 2018 list. I give this book 5 out of 5 coffins.