A deliciously dark graphic adaptation of Gaiman’s modern classic is delivered with pitch-perfect accuracy and presented in a striking palette.
Staying true to the original text, Russell’s adaptation follows young Coraline Jones as she discovers a strange door in her otherwise boring flat. Once over the door’s mysterious threshold, she meets her ghastly “Other Mother,” a horrid-looking beldam with sinister, button eyes, long, yellowed teeth, spindly, tapered fingers with sharp, brown nails and a wry, baleful smile. Coraline’s Other Mother intends to keep her in this horrible new world forever, and captures her real parents, prompting young Coraline to seek them out in this strange dimension. Russell, a veteran illustrator and collaborator with Gaiman, makes the novel positively jump off the page, sending shivers down its readers’ spines. Colorist Lovern Kindzierski deserves special kudos for utilizing a masterful array of hues, working in smart synchronicity with the nuances of the tale.
A stellar reworking of the original text, this is sure to delight established fans and to mesmerize newcomers.
(Graphic fiction. 10 & up)
From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.
Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.
As an agent for the Supernatural Immigration Task Force, it is Frank Gallows’s job to catch ghosts on Earth and send them back to the afterlife. However, during one particularly tricky deportation, he accidentally zaps a young—living—boy. Garth Hale suddenly finds himself surrounded by mummies and goblins in a crumbling, ghastly city, with a skeleton horse and his long-departed grandfather as his only friends. Gallows comes crashing into the afterlife, as well, on a daring rescue mission. As this bumbling team tries to find a way home, they end up face to face with the evil ruler of Ghostopolis, who doesn’t look too kindly upon mortals in his city. With a cast of characters that is sometimes one too many, in a world that includes seven kingdoms of infinite zombies, this ghost-filled graphic novel could easily overwhelm, but TenNapel reins it in by deftly illustrating each essential moment and emotion. Creepy details, quick quips and a wry, deadpan (pun absolutely intended) humor are sure to delight. (Graphic fiction. 9-12)
Like all 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girls, ebullient Mirka must face a six-armed troll to avoid becoming his dinner and obtain a dragon-slaying sword—wait, what? This utterly ingenious graphic novel spins the darling yarn of Mirka, who finds tasks like knitting dull and tedious. She keeps herself amused while stitching by conversing with her stepmother, Fruma, a top-notch debater who can adeptly argue her way out of any dispute. A magical encounter leads Mirka to discover a witch who sends her on a quest to acquire a sword perfect for a fledgling dragon-slayer, just the role Mirka envisions for herself. When Mirka must battle a fierce troll, the skills she’s learned from Fruma prove to be not so entirely useless. Deutsch creates a beautiful, detail-rich world with a muted, ethereal palette that masterfully blends faith and fantasy with astounding harmony. Each page conveys fluid motion through his panel layout and text-bubble placement; readers can easily grasp and empathize with Mirka’s feelings. Undoubtedly one of the cleverest graphic novels of the year; let's hope this isn't the last of Mirka. (Graphic fantasy. 10-14)
Mom said there was magic in the woods…she probably didn’t mean anything like this.
Ten-year-old city boy Rufus is staying at his grandmother's house on the edge of a forest for a few days without his parents. Grammy's idea of fun is prune juice and soap operas, so Rufus decides to explore the woods. He meets a girl named Penny, but she's as friendly as a rock. Her older sister, Aurora, tells Rufus Penny's friendlier than she seems, so he doesn't give up on her. When looking for her in the woods, Rufus finds a glowing necklace in a tree. After reading the word on the back, he turns into Bigfoot! Not only is he big, red and hairy, but he can also talk to animals. Sidney the flying squirrel helps him get home. There's danger in the forest as well as magic, and when Penny disappears, Rufus (and Sidney) use the totem to effect a rescue. Canadian author Torres’ first in a new series of graphic novels has magic, humor and just a hint of menace. Easy-reading text, all in speech bubbles, will appeal to a wide range of readers. Hicks’ bright and glossy cinematic panels are full of action; readers will almost smell the green of the trees. This one gets everything just right.
Be prepared for young Sasquatch fans roaring for more.
(Graphic fantasy. 6-11)
The Bone universe proves that it can still expand without spreading thin.
As introduced in the previous volume (2011), The Valley, still under a nightmare sleep, awaits rescue from a motley crew of Bones, beasts, a boy and a brawny priest. Jumping right in where the action left off, readers discover that the Nacht’s evil power is strengthening. Tom and his crew are still seeking to reunite pieces of the Spark, and in this adventure, they face some of the most dire peril the group has yet encountered: giant bears and bees, a horrible airship accident and the trek to distant Lorimar, a forest spirit with magical powers. As they battle and overcome these obstacles hurled at them by the Nacht, it seems that they’re getting closer to waking the Valley—but does the Nacht have a plan that may sabotage the group from within? Sniegoski’s writing is strong and swift, and it properly propels the action needed to fuel such a broad crusade. However, those new to the series will want to read this series sequentially: The burst into action offers little back story, and many of the running jokes will be missed without it. An expected cliffhanger will leave readers clamoring for the final installment.
A wordless graphic novel provides a plangent meditation on the nature of friendship. When a dog buys a mail-order robot kit and puts it together, the two become fast friends. On an ill-fated trip to the beach salt water works its corrosive way on the robot, and the dog is forced to leave his immobilized friend lying on its towel on the sand. Their separate stories unfold over the next 11 months, as the dog makes an effort to repair his friend, only to discover the beach has closed, then turns to other friendships, while the robot lies suffering the ravages of weather and neglect and dreaming of friendships past and possible. Varon’s muted blues, grays and browns set the emotional tone for this tale, angularly regular hand-framed panels that only rarely vary with frameless images serving to emphasize the emotional confinement of her protagonists. The resolution is psychologically ambiguous, denying readers the satisfaction of a happy reunion but offering them the harder-edged truth that friendships change and die—but others can rise in their place. Witty and plaintive by turns, this is thoughtful, provocative pleasure. (Graphic novel. 8-14)
With many a SZZT! SZRAK! FWOOM! and SKREE!, young Emily learns to use an energy-bolt-shooting amulet against an array of menaces to rescue her captured Mom in this graphic-novel series opener. When a scuttling “arachnopod” sucks down their widowed parent, Emily and younger sib Navin pursue through a door in the basement and into the alternate-Earth land of Alledia. Finding unexpected allies in rabbit-like Miskit, grumpy Cogsley and other robots created by their mysterious great-grandfather, the children weather attacks from huge, tentacled Rakers, a pointy eared elf prince with shark-like teeth and other adversaries to get her back—only to discover that she’s in a coma, poisoned. Off to Episode Two, and the distant city of Kanalis, for a cure. The mid-sized, squared-off panels are sometimes a little small to portray action sequences clearly, but the quickly paced plot is easy enough to follow, and Kibuishi is a dab hand at portraying freaky monsters. Fans of Jeff Smith’s Bone will happily fret with the good guys and hiss at the baddies. (Graphic fantasy. 10-12)
Anyone who has said that pirates are an overused motif in youth literature has not yet met Walker Bean. Legends of Atlantis, merwitches and pirates abound in this stunningly swashbuckling graphic novel. Young Walker Bean, overlooked by his father, adores his fanciful grandfather and the yarns he spins about his adventures on the high seas. On his deathbed, his grandfather asks him to return an enchanted skull to a remote island. A fantastic adventure ensues, replete with pirates, naval officers and horrifying lobster merwitches out to apprehend Walker and the skull. A lushly eye-catching palette strides in easy harmony with this whimsical—though substantial—narrative. Renier and colorist Alec Longstreth work within a contained 75-color palette, achieving their goal of a unified feel throughout. In lesser hands this could have easily been labeled another trite “chosen one” adventure tale, but the masterful writing and art flawlessly transcend any predictable genre constraints. An easy crowd pleaser, this book has something sure to enchant every reader. Three cheers for Walker Bean...long may he sail! (Graphic adventure. 10 & up)
A headstrong young girl makes a hasty decision and finds herself in a galaxy far, far away in this graphic-novel shining star. Confident Zita finds a strange device in a meteor crater while playing with her more timorous best friend, Joseph. Impetuously, she accidentally activates the device, and before they can say “lift off,” the duo ends up on an ill-fated planet, with Joseph about to be sacrificed by an alien doomsday cult and Zita determined to save him. Hatke’s skill shines: His characters are richly imagined and portrayed, from the loyal, bumbling Strong-Strong (resembling a cross between a golem and an Uglydoll) to the menacing Screeds, an arachnid-like mechanized device that serves an evil purpose. The giant speechless Mouse, who communicates via ticker tape, is especially ingenious. Hatke takes a page from epic adventures like Jeff Smith’s Bone and Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet and throws in a dash of intergalactic zest for a winning combination, sure to captivate young graphic-novel aficionados. Be prepared to blast off; this debut is truly out of this world. (Graphic science fiction. 9-12)