A young, laudable voice tells an indelible story of acceptance and prejudice.

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THE MASK

A boy ridiculed for his deformities may find the price of beauty is too high in this posthumous graphic novel.

Mil lives alone in the forest; his parents abandoned him. Because of his misshapen face and body, villagers deride and even threaten the boy. He scrapes by selling his wooden sculptures, though most people steer clear of him. While walking through the woods, Mil finds a mask. It speaks to him and promises to make him handsome—the object of men’s envy and women’s gazes. All Mil must do in return is “perform a service” for the Mask someday. Though hesitant, he agrees, and the Mask fuses with his face and changes his appearance. Now people find Mil attractive and revel in his company. He opens up his own shop and falls in love. Then the day finally arrives when the Mask makes its demand, asking Mil to do something unimaginable. He must decide if he can live the life he wants with the deformed body he once had. This story, written when Adams was 16, is a remarkable allegory with a superb open ending. The pale white Mask boasts a physical beauty society seemingly craves, while its “soulless eyes” reveal an emotional deficiency. It’s easy to sympathize with the sensitive Mil; people dub him “the freak” or “the monster.” But he’s likable throughout; he falls for a woman who’s more interested in his sculptures than his looks. At the same time, the Mask is suitably menacing; its more human qualities prove the most sinister, like its “sly smirk.” Complementing Adams’ prose, Eason renders an expressive, sometimes maniacal-looking Mask, which understandably troubles Mil. Muted colors give the illustrations a deeper, subtle allure, like Mil himself. A loving tribute at the book’s end comes courtesy of Adams’ family.

A young, laudable voice tells an indelible story of acceptance and prejudice.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-578-56993-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: CJ Sparrow Publication

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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