A fast-paced beginning to a stunning new under-the-sea graphic series.

SEA SIRENS

From the Trot & Cap'n Bill series , Vol. 1

A girl and her grouchy cat are thrust into the middle of an undersea war.

Vietnamese-American Trot loves to surf with her one-eyed rescue cat, Cap’n Bill, as her immigrant grandfather fishes from the pier. Unfortunately, Grandpa has dementia. After he wanders off from his fishing spot and gets lost one day, Trot and Grandpa aren’t allowed to go to the beach anymore. Naturally, Trot breaks the rules and goes surfing anyway. Wiping out on a huge wave, Trot and Cap’n Bill descend right into the middle of a fight between the Sea Sirens and the Serpents. With a little help from Siren magic, Trot and her cat—whose querulous meows become understood as English (“JUST a cat?”)—and, later, Grandpa stay longer than they expect, getting ever more entwined in the underwater world and war. Inspired by L. Frank Baum’s The Sea Fairies (1911), Chu and Lee create an impressive graphic fantasy with adventure, danger, and magic. Elaborate linework (reminiscent of John R. Neill’s) and a vibrant pearlescent palette bring the underwater kingdom and all its fantastical creatures to life. Trot’s relationship with her grandfather forthrightly addresses the seriousness of dementia and the effects it has on a family. From a plotting standpoint, the Siren and Serpent war wraps up rather quickly, but a “to be continued” panel promises further underwater escapades for Trot and her curmudgeonly cat.

A fast-paced beginning to a stunning new under-the-sea graphic series. (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-451-48016-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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