Dear indeed for preteens facing big changes and adults with fond memories.

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DEAR SISTER

Over the years, a boy’s letters to his younger sister reveal his changing impressions of her and their relationship in this epistolary graphic novel.

For the unnamed 8-year-old boy, life was less complicated before his baby sister was born. Now his parents (aka “the wardens”) ask him to write cards and letters, sometimes with accompanying drawings, to his new sibling. Beginning each note with “Dear Sister,” the boy recounts his life with honesty, expressing his frustration with her incessant crying, having to read her the same book for “the 763rd time,” and his lack of privacy. Mixed in are several apology letters that reveal that the wardens fail to understand his perspective. Only his friend Joe offers diversion. Signing his initial letters “From, Brother,” he informs his sister that he’s holding out on the love part until he’s made up his mind. During a 10-year-period, however, his letters gradually reflect his growing affection for her. When Joe moves away, it’s the sister, who’s always adored her big brother, who understands his pain. And as their friendship and affection grow, perhaps the brother enjoys connecting with—and yes, reading to—his sister after all. While books on sibling rivalry abound, this volume brings freshness to the topic with McGhee’s gentle humor and poignant scenarios (though adults may respond more strongly than kids). Bluhm heightens both with childlike sketches for the brother’s drawings and emotive illustrations for the storyline.

Dear indeed for preteens facing big changes and adults with fond memories. (Graphic fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5142-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A busy if ultimately tidy wrap-up for fans.

WORLDS COLLIDE

From the Land of Stories series , Vol. 6

Witches and other fictional baddies move to conquer this world when a portal opens between the Land of Stories and a branch of the New York Public Library.

For the finale to his popular series, Colfer recaps the first five episodes, then brings together most of the teeming cast to wage, as the narrator admits, “an overdue battle of good versus evil.” Flanked by a wish-fulfilling frame story in which Conner, one of the white twin protagonists, has grown up to become a revered writer of middle-grade fantasies, the climactic struggle begins with the portal’s opening in the sumptuous Rose Reading Room. It spreads to Central Park and other locales as the then-teenager and allies fictional or otherwise (including a lot of ineffectual Marines) square off against his powerfully gifted sister, Alex, the dastardly witches who have ensorcelled her, and a Literary Army led by (among others) the head-chopping Queen of Hearts. Many set pieces ensue, from a pitched battle with gingerbread soldiers to no fewer than six individual witch-fairy duels in a row—not to mention gags and one-liners aplenty, topical references, and adolescent posturing (“Knock it off, boys,” Merlin snaps at one point, “there are much bigger issues in this story”). With one exception, characters who die bleed words instead of blood, and all of the destruction in both worlds is neatly fixed at the end by an albino dragon ( see Book 3: A Grimm Warning). Dorman’s vignettes at the chapter heads offer glimpses of settings and characters.

A busy if ultimately tidy wrap-up for fans. (foldout map of lower Manhattan) (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-35589-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

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