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Even people who’ve read countless folktales will find something new and surprising in this collection, and they may discover...

It’s easy to forget how often folktales make no sense at all.

In the 10 myths and fairy tales adapted in this graphic novel, a boy hatches out of a peach, a hairbrush transforms into a mountain, and a polar bear grows a coat of feathers. The surreal images suit Phillips perfectly. He’s especially good at drawing the hawks made of ice who appear in “Thor and the Frost Giants.” Unless readers are experts on folklore, they may not be certain if the creatures were borrowed from the original stories or invented for the book. His sense of composition may remind some people of the legendary P. Craig Russell, with its use of open space and vivid, graduated colors. (The blue skies are particularly lovely.) But the character designs are odder and more abstract than Russell’s, and every story is drawn in its own style. The ogres in the Japanese story of “Momotaro,” fittingly enough, resemble the monsters in classic Japanese prints. (Outside of “Momotaro,” the stories’ primary human characters are generally white.) The visual storytelling, however, is sometimes confusing, and a few panels are poorly placed, throwing off the pacing.

Even people who’ve read countless folktales will find something new and surprising in this collection, and they may discover that the stories are even stranger than they remembered. (Graphic folklore. 7-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-76011-326-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Readers in search of unalloyed wish fulfillment thickly layered with melodramatic posturing and gore-free, comics-style...

A bullying victim saves Earth after his brain is transferred into the body of a T. Rex.

Stomped flat by a huge green foot in the wake of a humiliating encounter with aptly named white classmate Melvin Goonowitz, Ralph, a nerdy boy with light-brown skin, wakes to discover that thanks to local handyman/superscientist Professor Overdrive, he’s not dead but inhabiting a toothy, if tiny-armed, dinosaur brought from the distant past. Why? Because Earth is commanded to send a champion to join 10,000 other gladiators in the interstellar Coliseum of Crunch to fight one another for the continued existence of their planets. Next to the wildly diverse array of glowering, garishly hued, mightily thewed aliens filling the graphic panels, Ralph looks like Barney’s little green brother—but with pluck and luck he not only bumbles his way to an epic win, he rescues a blue-skinned new friend from a sexual predator. Back to Earth in triumph he goes to scare Goonowitz into peeing his pants, then switch into a boy again (in a cloned bod courtesy of Professor Overdrive) with an ongoing new mission to protect little guys from getting picked on. A note about real gladiators of the ancient Roman sort is tacked on at the end.

Readers in search of unalloyed wish fulfillment thickly layered with melodramatic posturing and gore-free, comics-style violence need look no further. (Graphic fantasy/science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4494-7208-5

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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A highflying mythological memoir alight with joie de vivre.

Gerstein follows up I Am Pan! (2016) with an account of the pranks and exploits of the goat-footed god’s equally free-spirited father.

Bursting with self-confidence, golden from helmet to winged sandals, and, on the cover at least, sprayed with sparkles, Hermes literally outshines a multihued, caricatured supporting cast of gods, demigods, mortals, and monsters parading through the loosely drawn sequential panels. The boasting begins with his birth, first word (“GIMME!”), and—still but 1 day old—invention of the lyre from a tortoise shell and theft of Apollo’s cattle by turning their hooves around so they can’t be tracked. Charming his way out of punishment (and leaving Apollo happily strumming a cowboy song on the lyre), he goes on as messenger of the gods to hoodwink the nasty twin giants Otus and Ephialtes, become a father and a grandfather, rescue Hera’s friend Io from the monster Argus (a knobbly, pitch-black boojum studded with eyes), bestow on Aesop the art of telling fables, and, as the other gods fade into retirement, ultimately find a bright new outlet for his particular talents: “The Internet!” It’s a selective account, with all of Hermes’ amorous adventures except the wooing of Penelopeta (Pan’s mom) skipped over and the violence of the author’s classical source material dialed down enough to, for instance, leave Argus alive and the giants not slaughtered but tricked into a permanent bout of arm-wrestling. Admitting in a closing note to a bit of embellishment (no kidding), Gerstein caps this rollicking revel with a short but scholarly resource list.

A highflying mythological memoir alight with joie de vivre. (Mythology. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3942-3

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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