Pure egg-cellence.

A human-sized chicken leads the residents of a tiny town on a wild hen chase in Caldecott Honor winner Stein’s pleasantly peculiar debut graphic novel.

A boring day in Simpleton goes haywire after a fried egg liberates itself from the sandwich of Inspector Cobb, the hamlet’s chief health and safety officer. Cobb races on his bicycle to the town cafe only to learn that there are no eggs today, which does nothing to improve his steadily souring mood. Closing up shop to avoid a surprise inspection (and have his many pets and elephant fry cook discovered), the chef rushes out to the mini-mart only to find the egg shortage is townwide. All seems lost until an enormous chicken, the titular Beaky Barnes, crosses the road with her friend the Inventor to get to the cafe on the other side. Giddy with egg-citement, the chef hustles back to greet the gals, grab their orders, and hopefully somehow get an egg in the end. What follows is truly a madcap adventure connecting a trumpet-playing fish with collegiate dreams, an elephant with a broken heart and a squished bike, a rooster acting his heart out, and, yes, even an egg, all woven together in a brilliant, bizarre ballet that is equal parts goofy and genius. Stein’s instantly recognizable illustrations, rendered in ballpoint pen and digitally enhanced watercolor, are alive with color and action, bringing this dramedy to its satisfying conclusion. Readers will be pleased to know this is not the last they’ll see of Beaky Barnes. Human characters are light-skinned.

Pure egg-cellence. (Graphic fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-09476-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022


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

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 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019


A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more.

After moving to a new city, a girl attends a wilderness camp to help her make new friends.

When astronomy-obsessed 9-year-old Vega’s dad Wes gets a new job, the family moves from Portland to Seattle. Vega is not happy about this change and doesn’t want to leave her best friend behind, worrying they will grow apart. Vega’s dad Javi thinks making new friends will help her adjust, so he signs her up for Camp Very Best Friend, which is designed to help introverted local children build new friendships. Vega is not exactly eager to go but makes a deal with Wes, agreeing to try out camp as long as he tries to make a new friend too. It quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary outdoor adventure, and Vega and her fellow campers try to figure out what is really going on. The story smoothly incorporates STEM facts with insets on the page to define and highlight terms or tools. An unexpected twist toward the end of this fast-paced adventure that reveals the truth behind the camp will surprise readers. The clean, bright artwork is enhanced by panels of varying shapes and clear, easy-to-follow speech bubbles. Race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are not explicitly addressed; characters’ names and physical appearances indicate a broadly diverse cast starting with brown-skinned Vega and her two dads.

A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more. (Graphic fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5566-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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