A (mostly) confidence-inspiring guide for young creators.

BUILD A ROBOT!

From the Maker Comics series

A fun how-to manual for aspiring roboticists.

This most recent installment in the Maker Comics series (tagline: “the ultimate DIY guide”) weaves a narrative around six robotics projects of varying difficulty. Toaster 2, a tomato-red appliance who proclaims itself the “most advanced robot ever created,” speaks directly to readers as they follow his lighthearted adventures navigating the perils around his family’s house. It creates an artbot to tackle pesky homework assignments, a scarebot to fend off “your” annoying brother, and three versions of a carbot to move the slumbering family pet, Katty the Destroyer. Each project has a detailed supply list with helpful suggestions of where to procure the more-obscure components and easy-to-follow, illustrated instructions. The robots range from simple designs composed of packing tape and magnets to more sophisticated schemes utilizing breadboards and coding. Venable intersperses engaging factoids throughout the guide on various topics, including the history of glue, a timeline of robotics, and an overview of the computer language Arduino. Hudson’s full-color illustrations are lively; together with Venable’s patient and thorough directions, they should encourage young readers to take the plunge into making their own bots. Also included is a step-by-step guide to starting a robotics club, helping to move any builder’s love from the page to a group. T2’s family is interracial: Dad and “your brother” present Black, and Mom and “your little sister” have Asian features. Both of the latter have offputtingly stylized eyes, and Mom’s hourglass figure and hairstyle skate close to stereotypes of hypersexualized Asian women—a shame, as her textual character development is terrific.

A (mostly) confidence-inspiring guide for young creators. (Graphic nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-15215-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl.

FRIENDS FOREVER

From the Friends series , Vol. 3

Shannon just wants to get through eighth grade in one piece—while feeling like her own worst enemy.

In this third entry in popular author for young people Hale’s graphic memoir series, the young, sensitive overachiever is crushed by expectations: to be cool but loyal to her tightknit and dramatic friend group, a top student but not a nerd, attractive to boys but true to her ideals. As events in Shannon’s life begin to overwhelm her, she works toward finding a way to love and understand herself, follow her passions for theater and writing, and ignore her cruel inner voice. Capturing the visceral embarrassments of middle school in 1987 Salt Lake City, Shannon’s emotions are vivid and often excruciating. In particular, the social norms of a church-oriented family are clearly addressed, and religion is shown as being both a comfort and a struggle for Shannon. While the text is sometimes in danger of spelling things out a little too neatly and obviously, the emotional honesty and sincerity drawn from Hale’s own life win out. Pham’s artwork is vibrant and appealing, with stylistic changes for Shannon’s imaginings and the leeching out of color and use of creative panel structures as her anxiety and depression worsen.

A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl. (author's note, gallery) (Graphic memoir. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-31755-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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A rich and deeply felt slice of life.

JUST PRETEND

Crafting fantasy worlds offers a budding middle school author relief and distraction from the real one in this graphic memoir debut.

Everyone in Tori’s life shows realistic mixes of vulnerability and self-knowledge while, equally realistically, seeming to be making it up as they go. At least, as she shuttles between angrily divorced parents—dad becoming steadily harder to reach, overstressed mom spectacularly incapable of reading her offspring—or drifts through one wearingly dull class after another, she has both vivacious bestie Taylor Lee and, promisingly, new classmate Nick as well as the (all-girl) heroic fantasy, complete with portals, crystal amulets, and evil enchantments, taking shape in her mind and on paper. The flow of school projects, sleepovers, heart-to-heart conversations with Taylor, and like incidents (including a scene involving Tori’s older brother, who is having a rough adolescence, that could be seen as domestic violence) turns to a tide of change as eighth grade winds down and brings unwelcome revelations about friends. At least the story remains as solace and, at the close, a sense that there are still chapters to come in both worlds. Working in a simple, expressive cartoon style reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s, Sharp captures facial and body language with easy naturalism. Most people in the spacious, tidily arranged panels are White; Taylor appears East Asian, and there is diversity in background characters.

A rich and deeply felt slice of life. (afterword, design notes) (Graphic memoir. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53889-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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