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Picture the Dead

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Overview

A ghost will find his way home.

Jennie Lovell's life is the very picture of love and loss. First she is orphaned and forced to live at the mercy of her stingy, indifferent relatives. Then her fianc? falls on the battlefield, leaving her heartbroken and alone. Jennie struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but is haunted by a mysterious figure that refuses to let her bury the past.

When Jennie forms an unlikely alliance with a ...

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Picture the Dead

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Overview

A ghost will find his way home.

Jennie Lovell's life is the very picture of love and loss. First she is orphaned and forced to live at the mercy of her stingy, indifferent relatives. Then her fiancé falls on the battlefield, leaving her heartbroken and alone. Jennie struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but is haunted by a mysterious figure that refuses to let her bury the past.

When Jennie forms an unlikely alliance with a spirit photographer, she begins to uncover secrets about the man she thought she loved. With her sanity on edge and her life in the balance, can Jennie expose the chilling truth before someone-or something-stops her?

Against the brutal, vivid backdrop of the American Civil War, Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown have created a spellbinding mystery where the living cannot always be trusted and death is not always the end.

Praise for Picture the Dead

"A tour de force, a remarkable feat of visual and verbal storytelling, as playful as it is serious, as haunting as it is delightful."
-Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize—winning novelist

"Love story, mystery, ghost story...Picture the
Dead is a gripping, gorgeously graphic novel about a girl who risks everything...Jennie's voice and the pictures she shows us bring this swift, wonderfully chilling story to life."
-Kit Reed, author of The Night Children

"I loved Picture the Dead. Eerie, romantic, moody, and immersive. A beautifully illustrated gothic delight!"
-Holly Black, New York Times bestselling author of Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this smartly restrained ghost story, orphan Jennie has already lost her twin brother to the Civil War, but when her brooding cousin, Quinn, returns wounded to their Massachusetts home, she learns that Will--Quinn's brother and Jennie's fiancé--is also dead. Displaced and treated like a servant by her miserly aunt, Jennie succumbs to Quinn's romantic advances, in spite of a ghostly recurring sensation that she is being choked, and her sense that something's amiss with Will's death. Integrated letters, scrawled notes, and Brown's (How to Be) digital portraits (based on daguerreotypes) provide foreshadowing, while contributing to the unease that gnaws at Jennie's stark yet beautiful narration. Through her association with a spirit photographer, Mr. Geist, Jennie presumes that Will is jealous over her engagement to Quinn, but Griffin's (the Vampire Island series) house of mirrors unveils secrets more sinister. Despite the powerful conclusion, it's moments of quiet perception that should most resonate, as when Mr. Geist distinguishes between memory and haunting: "For if memory is the wave that buoys our grief, haunting is the undertow that drags us to its troubled source." Ages 12–up. (May)
Shelf Awareness
"Adele Griffin here combines the supernatural elements she explored in The Other Shepherds and the war themes of Sons of Liberty to chilling and riveting effect... Griffin smoothly weaves together the growing popularity of the Spiritualist movement... with breakthroughs in photography... Lisa Brown's drawings, which evoke the period and also act as faux facsimiles of Jennie's scrapbook, elevate the suspense and contribute to this gripping novel's Daphne Du Maurier-like aura."
- ShelfAwareness

— Jennifer Brown

Booklist
"Evocative black-and-white drawings... Griffin's vivid writing will draw readers into Jennie's first-person narrative of love, doubt, and mystery... The tale goes beyond [Jennie's] particular ghosts and shows how broadly the country was haunted: survivors by the loss of loved ones and soldiers by wretched memories. A Civil War ghost story with gothic overtones."
- Booklist

— Carolyn Phelan

The New York Times
Brown's striking portraits, drawings displayed throughout as though in a photo album, animate this artful Civil War-era novel. Jennie, 16 years old and an orphan, is left without prospects when Will, her fiancé, dies on the battlefield: his mother is her reluctant guardian, and makes it clear she is no longer welcome in the house. With the aid of a spirit photographer, Jennie attempts to get to the bottom of a mystery: How exactly did Will die, and why does she keep having such horrible dreams? The story is engrossing and the period details an added pleasure.
— Julie Just
From the Publisher
"PICTURE THE DEAD is filled with interesting historical detail and excellent illustrations that heighten the suspense, and readers will enjoy traveling through time in this Civil War caper. " - Teen Reads

"Picture the Dead makes an important contribution to Civil War novels and would be an excellent purchase any reader who enjoys a good mystery and ghost story." - Bibliophilic Book Blog

" Punctuated with family photos, handwritten letters, and other mementos from Jennie's scrapbook, Picture the Dead is a classic ghost story for teenage and adult readers alike." - Sacramento Book Review

"But the story and setting were engrossing, and that's all I can ask for as a reader. " - Beth Hull

"This book is those wonderful reads that can actually steal you away from reality and plunk you directly in the passenger seat next to the main character." - Kiss the Book

"Definitely an interesting read—give it a try if you're up for something cool and different!" - Good Books Lately

"The story is filled with twists and turns that kept me constantly guessing and gripping the edge of my seat in anticipation." - Small Review

"Griffin's lauguage is the right amount of beauty and questioning darkness. And 100% lovely. " - Happy Nappy Bookseller

"One thing I really enjoyed about this story was how well the mystery developed. I honestly thought I had the ending figured out, but there was so much more to it than I expected. " - The Ninja Librarian

"It did a great job of capturing the gruesome, unsettling, and extremely creepy, setting of America towards the end of the Civil War. " - Plymouth Library"I couldn't put this book down and I am sure that a student wouldn't be able to either. " - Kiss the Book

Kirkus
"A tale of lost love, family betrayal and visits from the spirit world, also included is an engaging thread involving a spirit medium who employs photography in his fraudulent craft. Each of the short chapters is paired with Brown's darkly inked, realistic drawings that mimic the look of photographs, newspaper articles and letters written in the elaborate cursive style of the era."
VOYA - Rachel Wadham
When her twin, Toby, is killed in battle, Jennie Lovell finds comfort in the whisperings that come from his spirit and in the fact that her fiance, Will, may still return from the ravages of the Civil War. Then Will's younger brother, Quinn, returns seriously wounded, with news of Will's death, and Jennie's hope for a future with Will is lost. Haunted by her grief, Jennie begins to get spectral messages from Will that reveal there is more to the story of his death than Quinn is divulging. Lead by Will and supported by a spiritualist photographer, Jennie uncovers the truth behind Quinn's dangerous web of lies. With unremarkable characters and a simple plot, this book would have little to recommend except for the extraordinary way it combines social and physical history to make the perfect setting. Drawing on the popular Victorian pastime of keeping scrapbooks, each chapter is preceded by reproductions from Jennie's personal book that not only support the text but also reveal intriguing clues to the mystery. Drawing on the spiritualist movement that grew in popularity at this time adds the ambiance of the period and makes this a less overt ghost story. With social history woven into the physical realities of the Civil War, including its effect on the soldiers and the families they left behind, this novel creates a uniquely holistic view of the time period that is often lacking in other works of historical fiction. Reviewer: Rachel Wadham
School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—This highly unusual book is a combination of historical fiction, a ghost story, and a scrapbook. Jennie Lovell's twin brother, Toby, and her fiancé, Will, have been killed in the Civil War, the latter under mysterious circumstances. Will's brother returns home a battered, bitter young man with secrets that Jennie is determined to uncover. She is under the guardianship of her aunt and uncle, Will and Quinn's parents, and they threaten to turn her out. She is mesmerized by a photographer who claims to be able to capture images from the spirit world, and she uses this relationship to explore the signs she believes Will is sending her, warnings that she must decipher carefully. In the end, it isn't clear if the ghost of Jennie's fiancé is real or a figment of her imagination, which makes the story all the more eerie. What is suspect, and frightening, is Quinn's sudden interest in Jennie. The inclusion of family portraits, invitations, newspaper clippings, and letters from her scrapbook make the reading experience rich with texture. Serious readers of historical fiction will be pleased to discover a book with a unique perspective on such a well-represented period of American history as well as a good story with suspense and a determined heroine.—Nora G. Murphy, Los Angeles Academy Middle School
Kirkus Reviews
A brooding mystery set during the Civil War, this gripping ghost story of a young woman trapped by the confines of her gender and social standing is not altogether successful in its format. Blending straightforward first-person narration and illustrations fashioned to look like a scrapbook, much of the novel's impact is drawn from its protagonist Jennie's beautifully crafted plaintive voice. A tale of lost love, family betrayal and visits from the spirit world, also included is an engaging thread involving a spirit medium who employs photography in his fraudulent craft. Each of the short chapters is paired with Brown's darkly inked, realistic drawings that mimic the look of photographs, newspaper articles and letters written in the elaborate cursive style of the era. Alas, the repetition of some of the images is too unsubtle in foreshadowing the story's conclusion. Also, though carefully rendered, the illustrations often interrupt rather than enhance the flow of the work and may seem out of place for older teen readers, who would otherwise be a natural audience for this appealingly gothic work. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)
Julie Just
Brown's striking portraits, drawings displayed throughout as though in a photo album, animate this artful Civil War-era novel…The story is engrossing and the period details an added pleasure.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402237126
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Pages: 272
  • Age range: 11 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

ADELE GRIFFIN is the critically acclaimed author of numerous young adult novels, including My Almost Epic Summer, The Other Shepards, and National Book Award Finalists Where I Want to Be and Sons of Liberty. She lives in New York City.

LISA BROWN is the bestselling author and illustrator of How to Be and Sometimes and the very popular Baby Be of Use board book series from McSweeney's. She also publishes a bimonthly illustrated book review in the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in California with her husband, author Lemony Snicket, and their son.

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Customer Reviews

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( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Historical fiction meets creepy ghost/suspense story

    Picture the Dead was an interesting book. It was a quick read, because it actually had pictures--the second author credited on the cover is actually the illustrator--pictures which gave clues to things that were about to happen or clarified things that already had. I enjoyed the story, but the pacing seemed a bit off--for a lot of it, it felt like not much was happening and then once it did, bam! it all happened at once. Still, though, it was a fun way to spend a few hours.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2012

    Picture the dead

    I totally reacmmed this book to others ota a great book!!! And a little scary hope you enjoy it as much as I did

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2013

    Help

    Do someone now how to get a book gone?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2013

    B-

    Not great, not awful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2012

    I hope it is good

    It looks so strange...

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    ???????

    WHAT IS THIS??? WHAT IS BLACKFIRE????? IS THIS A BOOK OR WHAT??????

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club.com

    Jennie Lovell has suffered much tragedy in her 16 years. Her parents died, her twin brother was killed fighting in the Civil War, and now her fiancé/cousin has also fallen on the battlefield. The aunt and uncle who have taken her in-never overly warm towards her- have fallen on hard times. She doesn't know what she'll do if they put her out.

    Jennie's cousin Quinn seems to be harboring a secret about his brother's death, and his own wounding in combat. When the family turns to a spiritualist photographer to help calm their grief, Jennie begins to feel her fiancé is trying to send a message through the prints made. Deciphering the meaning of what she sees may just save her life.

    Picture the Dead, written by Adele Griffin and illustrated by Lisa Brown, intertwines the interest in spiritualism that was rampant during the American Civil War with the story of soldiers who fought in the war and the families they left behind. So many young men died in bloody conflict it's not surprising that their mothers, fathers and siblings sought to know if their loved ones found comfort on the other side. Photography had only recently been created, so it's maybe not surprising that people tied the mysteries that went on in a photographer's dark room with the mysteries of death.

    Readers also see the precarious position that women of the times were often in. Dependent on the men in their lives for support, their entire futures could easily be turned upside down if a husband, father or brother died. During the Civil War, many of them did. Part historical fiction, part mystery, Picture the Dead is deliciously creepy and fun to read. Jennie keeps a scrapbook, and black-and white illustrations portray the things she secretes away: newspaper clippings, photographs, lists, letters, and notes from her twin. I highly recommend this book for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 14 and up.'

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    review taken from One Book At A Time http://onebooktime.blogspot.com

    This book surprised me! I think I was expecting a little bit more of a ghost story, which this story really isn't. You do get a little bit of that creepy feeling every once in awhile. But, it's more of a story about a young women coming to terms with the chaos and loss that surrounds her. I had a hard time getting into the story at first, and wasn't sure how I felt about the illustrations that came at the beginning of each chapter. But, the story builds into a wonderful mystery as you follow Jennie while she's trying to piece together what happened. What she discovers was not what I was expecting and the dramatic ending fit perfectly with the events that unfolded in the book. I enjoyed the spiritualistic aspect of the story. I could take or leave the illustrations though. They were an interesting addition to the story, but I found myself skipping them more than anything.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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