Not a deep dive but a starting point for difficult conversations.

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A STORY OF CYBERBULLYING

Through a graphic medium, a 16-year-old girl recounts her experience with cyberbullying.

In seventh grade, 12-year-old blonde-haired Lexi receives her first smartphone. Initially, she is elated, but after a fight with twin girls following a volleyball game, her life soon descends into agony when they start cyberbullying her. Lexi explains how on Post Ghost (a fictional, anonymous social media gossip site) the twins would barrage her with insults about her appearance and threaten to beat up anyone who spoke to her; even their mother participated in the abuse. With a clear and concise voice, Lexi explains her feelings of isolation and hurt, although she manages to keep her readers buoyed with reminders of perseverance. Darker themes, such as eating disorders and suicidality, are hinted at but are breezily bypassed. While this volume has full-color photorealistic illustrations, the art is unfortunately disjointed. Every character is depicted as thin and athletic; there is little variance in height or weight. Certain close-ups of junior-high–aged Lexi look alarmingly adult, and oddly scattered manga-inspired renderings insert unnecessary levity to a serious subject. Cavils aside, this first in a series of teen-authored graphic nonfiction tackles timely issues and should interest a wide audience from tweens to reluctant teen readers. Lexi and most of the other characters are white and seemingly middle-class, with scant diversity throughout.

Not a deep dive but a starting point for difficult conversations. (Graphic memoir. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-947378-04-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Zuiker Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

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Unfortunately, a great example of a book that adults think young people should read instead of one they want to read.

HIGH

EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT DRUGS, ALCOHOL, AND ADDICTION

After various books on addiction for adults and teens, here the Sheffs attempt to cover “everything” an early adolescent wants to know on the topic.

It’s a bold promise that, sadly, is not fulfilled. The book is divided into four main sections. The first summarizes Nic’s addiction and journey to sobriety before delving into a brief, general examination of drug and alcohol abuse. The second section surveys popular drug choices, and the third examines the road from drug use to drug addiction. The last section is a dialogue between the co-authors. Overall, the book does many things right: It never assigns blame to users, and it discusses such topics as marijuana legalization and opioid addiction without bias. Nic also periodically offers personal insights in separate text boxes. These points may not be enough to save the book, however. The overall tone is dry. Examples of adolescent addicts are discussed, but their stories are too brief to allow readers to find emotional touchstones. And though graphs and charts offer visuals, the clip art–like illustrations give the book the off-putting feel of a textbook. An “addictionary” confusingly arranges drugs by type instead of name (do readers know/care that PCP is a “dissociative drug” and GHB is a “club drug”?) and omits some current street names. A list of resources for recovery and further reading is appended.

Unfortunately, a great example of a book that adults think young people should read instead of one they want to read. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-544-64434-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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Exhilarating—as well as hilarious, enraging, or both at once depending on the reader.

ASTRONAUTS

WOMEN ON THE FINAL FRONTIER

[How women got mad, busy, and finally, reluctantly, accepted into NASA’s corps of astronauts.

Recast by the creators of Primates (2013) from NASA oral-history interviews with ex-astronaut Mary Cleave and other eyewitnesses, this likewise lightly fictionalized memoir takes its narrator from childhood interests in science and piloting aircraft to two space shuttle missions and then on to later educational and administrative roles. The core of the tale is a frank and funny account of how women shouldered their way into NASA’s masculine culture and as astronaut trainees broke it down by demonstrating that they too had both the competencies and the toughness that added up to the right stuff. Highlighted by a vivid series of scenes showing Cleave with a monkey on her chest, then a chimpanzee, an orangutan, a gorilla, and finally a larger gorilla to symbolize the G-forces of liftoff, Wicks offers cleanly drawn depictions of technical gear, actual training exercises, eye-rolling encounters with sexist reporters and clueless NASA engineers, iconic figures (such as a group portrait of the watershed astronaut class of 1978: “Twenty-six white guys and nine…well…people who were not. Pretty diverse for NASA”), and astronauts at work on the ground and in space. They capture both the heady thrill of space travel and the achievements of those who led the way there.

Exhilarating—as well as hilarious, enraging, or both at once depending on the reader. (afterword, print and web resources) (Informational graphic novel. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-877-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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