“The Dead Boy Detectives” by Jill Thompson

Jill Thompson’s Dead Boy Detectives is a manga-size digest that plays in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman sandbox. Thompson was one of the best of the many artists who illustrated Gaiman’s 75-issue run on the comic-book series Sandman. Here, she takes two characters from Season of Mists, Charles Rowland and Edwin Paine, two boy ghosts who refused to die when it was their time. They stayed on as ghosts, helping those without power solve mysteries.

Rowland and Paine are summoned from England to Chicago by a group of girls whose friend at their boarding school has disappeared. The teachers act suspicious and won’t answer questions. The girls hide the boys in drag (of course) but it’s the boys masquerading as living, not as girls, that is the most funny and even touching at times. Thompson uses a manga style to illustrate her own story, and it works well here. It’s a cute, sweet pop-culture story told in a cute, sweet art style and format with cameos by Morpheus and Death. A good quick read for fans of Sandman and of manga, it’s suitable for middle-grade students and older.

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