An entertaining story let down by stereotypical portrayals.

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CAMP SPIRIT

A sullen, rock-music–loving Quebec teen embarks on a tumultuous summer filled with humor and horror.

In the summer of 1994, Elodie reluctantly heads off to work as a camp counselor. Upon arrival, she meets the disheveled, strangely behaving camp chief, whom she finds creepy. Elodie is assigned as the monitor in charge of a group of redheaded girls who are notoriously hard to control. Over time she unexpectedly forms bonds with her lively campers and develops a close friendship with Catherine, another monitor. Things start looking up for Elodie, but confusion ensues as Elodie and Catherine develop feelings for each other that are more than platonic. Their closeness makes them a target for frequent homophobic slurs that are never unpacked. Another major issue is Elodie’s growing suspicion of the camp chief, especially in connection to the legend of the spirit rumored to haunt the campgrounds. Lenoir’s lively language and dialogue combined with eye-catching, detailed, full-color illustrations make for a captivating page-turner. While the fantasy aspect feels underdeveloped with an anticlimactic resolution, the relationships formed and the growth of the campers make up for this. Most characters are white, although there is one black secondary character, camp counselor Magalie. Magalie’s characterization unfortunately evokes negative tropes of the sassy, angry black woman; a scene in which white campers touch and comment on her hair lacks sufficient context.

An entertaining story let down by stereotypical portrayals. (Graphic fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-60309-465-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A triumphant queer coming-of-age story that will make your heart ache and soar.

LAURA DEAN KEEPS BREAKING UP WITH ME

A 17-year-old struggles to navigate friendship and finding herself while navigating a toxic relationship.

Biracial (East Asian and white) high schooler Freddy is in love with white Laura Dean. She can’t help it—Laura oozes cool. But while Freddy’s friends are always supportive of her, they can’t understand why she stays with Laura. Laura cheats on Freddy, gaslights and emotionally manipulates her, and fetishizes her. After Laura breaks up with her for a third time, Freddy writes to an advice columnist and, at the recommendation of her best friend Doodle, (reluctantly) sees a psychic who advises her that in order to break out of the cycle of her “non-monogamous swing-your-partner wormhole,” Freddy needs to do the breaking up herself. As she struggles to fall out of love and figure out how to “break up with someone who’s broken up with me,” Freddy slowly begins to be drawn back into Laura’s orbit, challenging her relationships with her friends as she searches for happiness. Tamaki (Supergirl, 2018, etc.) explores the nuances of both romantic and platonic relationships with raw tenderness and honesty. Valero-O’Connell’s (Lumberjanes: Bonus Tracks, 2018, etc.) art is realistic and expressive, bringing the characters to life through dynamic grayscale illustrations featuring highlights of millennial pink. Freddy and her friends live in Berkeley, California, and have a diversity of body shapes, gender expressions, sexualities, and skin tones.

A triumphant queer coming-of-age story that will make your heart ache and soar. (Graphic novel. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62672-259-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A heartwarming, funny story filled with richness and complexity.

PUMPKINHEADS

Autumn loving, they had a blast; autumn loving, it happened too fast.

Having worked together in the Succotash Hut at the pumpkin patch for years, best friends and co-workers Deja and Josiah, who goes by Josie, ditch work and find love on their last night, heading out in search of Josie’s unrequited love, the girl who works in the Fudge Shoppe. Deja, a witty and outgoing girl who attracts—and is attracted to—boys and girls alike, is set on helping the shy, rule-following Josie move out of his comfort zone before they part ways for college. Deja encourages Josie to take a chance and talk to the girl of his dreams instead of pining for her from afar. Not to be dissuaded by his reticence, Deja leads Josie to multiple stops in the Patch in search of the almost-impossible-to-find Fudge Girl, with every stop taking them in a new direction and providing a new treat. As they journey through the Patch—chasing a snack-stealing rascal, dodging a runaway goat, and snacking their way through treats from fudge to Freeto pie—they explore the boundaries of their friendship. Visually bright and appealing in autumnal reds, oranges, and yellows, the art enhances this endearing picture of teenage love. Deja is a beautiful, plus-sized black girl, and Josie is a handsome, blond white boy.

A heartwarming, funny story filled with richness and complexity. (Graphic fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62672-162-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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