A rare blend of tender and revolutionary.

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KISS NUMBER 8

The discovery of long-buried family secrets brings Amanda closer to owning her own.

Amanda is the demure sidekick to the wild and sexy Cat, who knows how to have a good time but doesn’t always know how to be a great friend. Her real best friend, though, is her Catholic dad. They go to Sunday baseball games, share favorite TV shows, and trounce each other in video games. When Amanda discovers that her runaway grandmother was actually an early transgender rights activist who transitioned late in life, it brings unbearable tension into their relationship. It also makes Amanda wake up to parts of herself she’s not yet been able to acknowledge, such as how she really feels when she’s around Cat. These revelations wreak havoc on her relationships. Fortunately, Amanda, who is white, finds a new, multiracial crew from the public school. Their lack of need for labels, for the gender binary, or to overexplain themselves allows Amanda to relax into self-acceptance. It’s a story of family and friendship and love in all its forms, perfect for the graphic novel format and elevated by the combined art and narrative. For example, when Amanda’s father tells his mother’s story, his distorted recollections are laid out in juxtaposition with actual events, resulting in an achingly moving vignette. The characters shine, fully human and permitted to be flawed. Hope prevails.

A rare blend of tender and revolutionary. (Graphic novel. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-709-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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THE ODYSSEY

Hinds adds another magnificent adaptation to his oeuvre (King Lear, 2009, etc.) with this stunning graphic retelling of Homer’s epic. Following Odysseus’s journey to return home to his beloved wife, Penelope, readers are transported into a world that easily combines the realistic and the fantastic. Gods mingle with the mortals, and not heeding their warnings could lead to quick danger; being mere men, Odysseus and his crew often make hasty errors in judgment and must face challenging consequences. Lush watercolors move with fluid lines throughout this reimagining. The artist’s use of color is especially striking: His battle scenes are ample, bloodily scarlet affairs, and Polyphemus’s cave is a stifling orange; he depicts the underworld as a colorless, mirthless void, domestic spaces in warm tans, the all-encircling sea in a light Mediterranean blue and some of the far-away islands in almost tangibly growing greens. Don’t confuse this hefty, respectful adaptation with some of the other recent ones; this one holds nothing back and is proudly, grittily realistic rather than cheerfully cartoonish. Big, bold, beautiful. (notes) (Graphic classic. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4266-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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A sure winner for any reader with a yen to become permanently terrified. Brilliant.

THROUGH THE WOODS

A print and Web comics artist offers five creep-out chillers (four new) with folk-tale motifs and thoroughly disquieting art.

Well-placed lines of terse, hand-lettered commentary and dialogue reinforce narrative connections but are also as much visual elements as are the impenetrable shadows, grim figures, and stark, crimson highlights in Carroll’s inky pictures. Making expert use of silent sequences, sudden close-ups and other cinematic techniques to crank up the terror, the author opens and closes in a dimly lit bedroom (much like yours), bookending the five primary stories. In “Our Neighbor’s House,” a trio of sisters are taken one by one by a never-seen smiling man. In the next, a bride discovers that “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold”—as are the other pieces (seen in close, icky detail) of her husband’s dismembered but not entirely dead former wife. Two cases of supernatural possession (“His Face All Red” and “My Friend Janna”) follow. The collection is capped by a true screamer in which a teenager’s memories of her mother’s tales of a cellar-dwelling monster with a “sweet, wet voice” segue into a horrific revelation about her pretty new sister-in-law. Lonely houses, dark woods and wolves? Check. Spectral figures with blood-red innards? Check. Writhing tentacles bursting from suddenly inhuman mouths? Check!

A sure winner for any reader with a yen to become permanently terrified. Brilliant. (Graphic horror. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6595-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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