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Kids Lit Review of Picture the Dead
Date of Review: 
Jun.01.2010
Reviewer: 
Tasha
Source: 
Kids Lit

After his death, Jennie had always felt the spirit of her twin brother near her. Now her fiancé Will has died in the Civil War. His brother, Quinn, has returned with injuries. According to the army, Will died honorably in battle, but his brother tells a different story of prison and Will being a criminal. Jennie seeks out the help of a spiritualist photographer, who takes the family’s picture and edits it by adding another image of an angle. Jennie is not fooled, but soon she experiences things that she cannot explain. Images of her are edited without anyone touching them, clues lead her deeper into a mystery, and time is running out as her place in Will’s family is threatened. This paranormal, spiritualist mystery will have readers enthralled.

This book is so beautifully designed. Lisa Brown’s illustrations take the book to another level, ensuring that readers are completely surrounded by Jennie’s world. Jennie keeps a scrapbook and often takes small items to add to her book without the owners knowing. As she adds these bits and pieces to her scrapbook, a series of visual clues start to emerge. At the start of each chapter, readers will see items that will be added to the scrapbook in the next chapter. This way each chapter starts with the clues and continues with the story itself. This is an immensely entertaining way to read a book.

Griffin has created a book that lingers, slowly revealing its secrets. The book is beautifully written. Griffin has intertwined Jennie’s brother’s voice in the chapters, his advice for spies always right at hand when courage is needed. Jennie is an intriguing protagonist who is multidimensional with her small thefts, desperation for a home, and ability to love two brothers. It is her complexity that makes the book so fascinating.

Eerie, haunting and mysterious, this book is one that takes over your world. Bright summer sun dims into streets at night, heat becomes a chill, breezes blow on still days. Griffin and Brown have created a book that is an immersive experience that readers will not soon forget.

Appropriate for ages 13-16.

Picture the Dead