The Ghost of the Blanes ­Museum

Paw Prints. May 2024. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781223188119.
K-Gr 3–“Rodríguez had worked as a guard at the Blanes Museum [in Uruguay] for many, many years. He loved his job from the very start and every day he left feeling fulfilled.” Sunny illustrations that swoopingly define walls and floors, and otherwise defy gravity to create imaginative rooms at the museum, show a friendly, mustachioed man and his pride of the place. But then his wife, Quica, dies; he has spent many happy hours with her in the museum, and he is bereft. Soon Rodríguez decides that he would do better on the night shift. It looks so different and sounds different, too, so he whistles while he patrols, and one night hears some kind of sound accompanying him. After several false starts he finds Clara, the ghost who is said to haunt the real-life museum, who felt a little haunted by the night guard. But once they get over some hurdles, an odd and musical friendship is born. With Spanish words peppering the story, found in the illustrations, and always apparent from the context, this is an ebullient story winningly told and with a very unusual angle: older man moves through grief and finds a new friend. Readers see enough of Quica to adore her, too, and this is a side of married life—aging but animated, curious about everything, deeply in love—that is not often glimpsed in picture books.
VERDICT A simple ghost story and a mystery, too, but with substantial life lessons that are charming and memorable.

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