Not much here for plot, but fans of the art of Tenniel and his modern descendants (Maurice Sendak, Charles Vess) will find...

THE SECRET OF THE STONE FROG

From the Leah and Alan Adventures series

Nytra doesn’t stray far from overt Carrollian influences in his graphically presented adventures of two temporarily lost children.

Waking beneath a tree and shrunk to thumb size, Leah and her easily distracted little brother Alan follow the directions of several stone frogs to get back home. Their path isn’t as direct as it might be, though. Along the way they anger a Bee Lady—depicted Red Queen–style with a large head and stubby, neckless body—exchange courtesies with a group of refined teddy bears (or maybe lions?) in elaborate 18th-century dress, ride atop giant rabbits, and take a subway ride in a train filled with stiffly silent sea life clad in Victorian-era garb. In an eerie climax, they race through cobblestone streets lined with buildings that abruptly warp into towering, glowering faces. Looking small and wearing traditional nightclothes in the white-bordered black-and-white panels, the two children make their way through oversized woods and urban scenes depicted in marvelous, finely drawn detail. The storytelling does not match the illustrations in mastery; Nytra ends his odyssey with an abrupt return to a spacious bedroom and then a handsome but anticlimactic pull back to view the children’s country estate at sunrise.

Not much here for plot, but fans of the art of Tenniel and his modern descendants (Maurice Sendak, Charles Vess) will find much to admire in this U.S. debut. (Graphic fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-935179-18-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: TOON/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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This kid-friendly satire ably sets claws into a certain real-life franchise.

BAD KITTY GOES ON VACATION

From the Bad Kitty (chapter book) series

A trip to the Love Love Angel Kitty World theme park (“The Most Super Incredibly Happy Place on Earth!”) turns out to be an exercise in lowered expectations…to say the least.

When Uncle Murray wins a pair of free passes it seems at first like a dream come true—at least for Kitty, whose collection of Love Love Kitty merch ranges from branded underwear to a pink chainsaw. But the whole trip turns into a series of crises beginning with the (as it turns out) insuperable challenge of getting a cat onto an airplane, followed by the twin discoveries that the hotel room doesn’t come with a litter box and that the park doesn’t allow cats. Even kindhearted Uncle Murray finds his patience, not to say sanity, tested by extreme sticker shock in the park’s gift shop and repeated exposures to Kitty World’s literally nauseating theme song (notation included). He is not happy. Fortunately, the whole cloying enterprise being a fiendish plot to make people so sick of cats that they’ll pick poultry as favorite pets instead, the revelation of Kitty’s feline identity puts the all-chicken staff to flight and leaves the financial coffers plucked. Uncle Murray’s White, dumpy, middle-aged figure is virtually the only human one among an otherwise all-animal cast in Bruel’s big, rapidly sequenced, and properly comical cartoon panels.

This kid-friendly satire ably sets claws into a certain real-life franchise. (Graphic satire. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20808-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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

LONG DISTANCE

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 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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