As satisfying and enjoyable as a big-budget animated sci-fi feature.

READ REVIEW

TIME SHIFTERS

A year after the worst day in Luke’s life, a chance encounter in the forest sparks a grand adventure.

Luke and his older brother, Kyle, are playing in the woods when a gang of bullies causes an accident that leaves Kyle dead and Luke without his brother and best friend. A year later, a flash in the forest leads the white boy to a strange device that clamps onto his forearm. Then, chased by a mummy, a skeleton in a spacesuit, and “vampire Napoleon,” Luke is rescued by an equally odd team: a robot Abe Lincoln, an Asian-featured ghost named Artemis, a dinosaur named Zinc, and Doc—the white inventor who, it turns out, invented the device on Luke’s arm. The mummy, skeleton and Napoleon are after the device, which facilitates access to the multiverse. To evade them, Luke and his new friends shift to an alternate Earth where spiders the size of humans inhabit what looks like the Old West. With the bad guys on their trail, can the good guys rescue a kidnapped Abe Lincoln and keep the device out of the hands of their pursuers’ diabolical boss? Grine’s time-and-space adventure is a full-color, action-stuffed tale with plenty of slapstick and sarcastic humor. Luke’s ragtag new acquaintances are an interesting bunch, and the villains are suitably silly and sinister.

As satisfying and enjoyable as a big-budget animated sci-fi feature. (Graphic science fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-92659-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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A solid, not particularly daring addition to the hybrid format for middle-grade readers, mixing drama with heart.

POSITIVELY IZZY

This reader-friendly graphic/prose hybrid explores the lives of two very different girls who have an unexpected connection.

Izzy and Brianna both, separately, navigate difficult middle school experiences. Brianna, whose story is told entirely in sequential panels, is studious, reserved, and a little lonely. Izzy, who tells her story in paragraphs broken up by illustrations, is an unreliable middle sister with a love for performance and a lot of indifference toward schoolwork. Izzy sneaks out against her mother’s wishes to perform in the school talent show, while Bri’s mother (also a teacher at her school) convinces her to fill in for a sick actor. Both girls juggle complex family dynamics, shifting friend groups, and boys in the hours leading up to their performances. The story is light but resonant for middle graders, with constant comedic asides in the illustrations. Both girls appear white (based on the color cover), with multiracial supporting casts, and both threads of the story skirt larger issues. The opening pages, in which Bri complains about labels, hint at a larger theme that recedes into the background as the two girls struggle with their interpersonal relationships. Readers primed by the back-cover blurb will spend the whole book waiting for the two stories to intersect, with a surprise reveal at the end that may call for an immediate reread.

A solid, not particularly daring addition to the hybrid format for middle-grade readers, mixing drama with heart. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-248497-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing.

SUNNY ROLLS THE DICE

From the Sunny series , Vol. 3

Sunny, in seventh grade, finds her score on the Groovy Meter taking some wild swings as her friends’ interests move in different directions.

In a motif that haunts her throughout, Sunny succumbs to a teen magazine’s personality quiz and sees her tally seesaw radically. Her BF Deb has suddenly switched focus to boys, clothes, and bands such as the Bee Gees (this is 1977)—dismissing trick-or-treating and wearing galoshes on rainy days as “babyish.” Meanwhile, Sunny takes delight in joining nerdy neighbors Lev, Brian, and Arun in regular sessions of Dungeons and Dragons (as a fighter character, so cool). The storytelling is predominantly visual in this episodic outing, with just occasional snatches of dialogue and pithy labels to fill in details or mark the passage of time; frequent reaction shots deftly capture Sunny’s feelings of being pulled this way and that. Tellingly, in the Holms’ panels (colored by Pien), Sunny’s depicted as significantly smaller than Deb, visually underscoring her developmental awkwardness. Deb’s comment that “we’re too old to be playing games like that” leads Sunny to drop out of the D&D circle and even go to the school’s staggeringly dull spring dance. Sunny’s mostly white circle of peers expands and becomes more diverse as she continues to navigate her way through the dark chambers and misty passages of early adolescence. Lev is an Orthodox Jew, Arun is South Asian, and Regina, another female friend, has brown skin.

The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing. (Graphic historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-23314-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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