The infodumps aren’t heavy, but this isn’t much more than a vehicle for its tidbits of history and science.

READ REVIEW

CLAWS AND EFFECT

From the Secret Smithsonian Adventures series , Vol. 2

The sudden appearance of dinosaurs in place of house pets and other modern animals sends four young time travelers scurrying back into the past in search of history-changing meddlers.

Hard on the heels of their first adventure in the past (The Wrong Wrights, 2016), Ajay (South Asian), Dominique (African-American), Eric, and Josephine (the latter two white) are dispatched by their mysterious Smithsonian contact back to the Philadelphia Exhibition of 1876. There, the nefarious Barris brothers are scheming to trump the hadrosaur fossil that was historically exhibited there with live dinos transported as eggs from the deep past. Internal logic is definitely not the strong suit here, as the dinosaurs, including predators, that are suddenly roaming freely and harmlessly through suburban neighborhoods have improbably supplanted “nearly every niche of fauna” except Homo sapiens. Still, with minor effort plus help from an evidently omniscient AI and such historical figures as Alexander Graham Bell (an exhibitor at the fair) the Barrises are thwarted and our own timeline restored. Well, not quite: a closing notice about the upcoming coronation of the “King of America” points to a new mission for the young science nerds. Glassy-eyed figures mostly just stand around and talk in the neatly squared-off panels, but the action, when there is any, is easy to follow.

The infodumps aren’t heavy, but this isn’t much more than a vehicle for its tidbits of history and science. (graphic afterword) (Graphic fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58834-567-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Smithsonian Books

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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NIGHTLIGHTS

When a young girl’s imagination and creativity are co-opted by a mysterious new friend, she must find a way to regain what is rightfully hers.

Sandy is a brown-skinned, dark-haired girl with big black eyes and a vivid imagination. At night, as she goes to sleep, she catches the lights bobbing about in her room and turns them into anything she imagines. The next day is spent drawing the fantastical creatures from her dreams, much to the detriment of her schoolwork. When a tall, pale-skinned girl with purple hair befriends her, Sandy is excited, though there is something eerie and unsettling about her new companion. Her excitement soon turns to anger as Morfie enters her imaginative nighttime world and tries to take it over. Readers will cheer at the clever way in which Sandy regains control. Using a lovely palette that includes a liberal amount of rich, dark purple, Colombian-born Alvarez has drawn a world that harks back to her native Bogotá and days in Catholic school, evoking it in wonderful detail and atmosphere. Her pages are not crowded yet are filled with details that will engage readers. The beings that inhabit Sandy’s nighttime world are simply delightful. The album size, cloth spine binding, and spot gloss on the cover are the icing on the cake of this beautiful graphic novel.

A winner. (Graphic fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-910620-13-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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