The Sleepover

Razorbill/Penguin/. Oct. 2021. 224p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9780593117347.
Gr 4-6–Like many horror films, Regina’s middle grade graphic novel, a touching meditation on the loss of a caregiver, explores grief that grows monstrous. Matt and Judy are thrown into confusion when their longtime nanny Ruby dies. Their mom, in danger of losing her job, hastily hires Miss Swan, a taciturn, dark-haired nanny who raises Matt’s suspicions when an unkindness of ravens arrive with her. Matt’s search to uncover the mystery of Miss Swan’s identity is mixed with tender memories of Ruby and comedic commentary from Matt’s horror flick–loving friends, who are in attendance at the titular sleepover. The story builds to a cinematic chase that checks the spooky boxes: a cabin in the woods, a murky lake, and a historical tragedy, to name a few—it’s familiar territory but suitably scary nonetheless. Regina’s art is reminiscent of Matt Kindt’s—flat yet emotive, with shadowy earth tones setting a dark mood. Ruby is an older Black woman, and the children and Miss Swan are white.
VERDICT This graphic novel offers spooky entertainment and a serious message, and though it doesn’t perfectly meld the two, both prove compelling themes.

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