Books for Babes provides info on the sort of comics that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. This week we recommend ‘Sheets’, out August 15 from CubHouse, an imprint of Lion Forge Comics.


Cover to ‘Sheets’. Art by Brenna Thummler/CubHouse/Lion Forge

By Stefania Rudd. I don’t think I fully understood what I was getting into as I started reading the new graphic novel, Sheets, by Brenna Thummler. Looking at the cover, I made my assumptions as the sheet ghost stared back at me through a washing machine. Is that a real ghost? Or a kid wearing a sheet for a Halloween costume? Why is it in the washer? Before the story begins Thummler pens us readers a sweet letter, assuring us that, yes, there are ghosts in this book, but they aren’t scary. She also tells us that this is the kind of story that may bring us both joy and sorrow, but ultimately it’s meant to be encouraging. The perfect mix of feels for any kid-friendly graphic novel.

Thirteen-year-old Marjorie hates two things: laundry and ghosts. Both seem to plague her existence, as she’s in charge of the family laundry business after the death of her mother. She is haunted in many ways because of it: each day she deals with impatient and rude customers; her social life at school leaves much to be desired; it’s all she can do to keep her grieving dad and innocent younger brother functioning at home; and let’s not forget the menacing presence of an entitled, wealthy man named Mr. Saubertuck. The threat of Mr. Saubertuck taking over her family’s business and incorporating it into a spa resort is ever-present. Marjorie has no one to help her deal with it all. Or so she thinks.

We’re also introduced to a community of ghosts, in particular a ghost-child named Wendell, who is trying his best to navigate the world of the dead even though he desperately wants to be back among the living. Wendell’s awkward attempts to make friends with his fellow ghosts mimics the way Marjorie is treated by her classmates, which shows how isolating it can be to put yourself out there only to be ridiculed. It’s fascinating to see what happens when these two first meet. It takes some time — and a couple amusing mishaps — before Wendell and Marjorie realize they have more in common with one another than they would have ever guessed.

I love how Thummler addresses the complicated feelings we have concerning what happens to people when they die. The thought of losing our physical form is frightening, and the notion of it being replaced with a sheet — an actual sheet — makes a scary idea sweetly comical.

Thummler’s artwork is cute, charming, and absolutely stunning. It’s the details in Sheets that make it such an engrossing read; they carry so much nuance that if you flip back through the pages you will pick up the little clues Thummler left for you, and discover that they pack quite a punch. The color differences between the ghost world (blues, grays, and purples) and the real world (soft pinks, blues, yellows, and greens) create necessary contrast, but they both come from the same place: a sweet, affecting world.

The concepts of grief, isolation, family troubles — Brenna Thummler approaches them all and imbues them with a silver lining. Sheets is a story that will remain with the reader well after it’s ended. It leaves us to consider if there’s something more to what we experience than just what we see.

Cubhouse/Lion Forge/$12.99

Written and illustrated by Brenna Thummler.

This book contains the loss of a parent, depression, loneliness, and bullying.

Age range 8-12+

‘Sheets’ hits stores August 15. You can pre-order it here.

Before: ‘The Cardboard Kingdom’ an insightful and inspiring book for readers of all ages