A charming effort with a positive message about being true to oneself.

NEEDLE & THREAD

Two young artists seize a chance to showcase their talents in the hopes of pursuing their dreams.

High school senior Noah sews and dreams of designing costumes. Already notorious among peers for making his own clothes and costumes for parties, Noah wants to go to art school and perfect his craft, but his parents are opposed. Despite their objections, Noah applies to his dream school along with their approved, traditional universities. One day he bumps into Azarie, a classmate who is the popular lead cheerleader. She secretly nurtures a love of comic books and aspires to be an actress, to the dismay of her strict, status-conscious parents and friends. Azarie ends up proposing that the two of them collaborate to create a cosplay costume she can wear in a contest, thus showing others who they truly are. While working together, they find a wider community of artists, and a friendship grows—but so does others’ animosity toward their bond. The storyline offers a sweet, albeit familiar, narrative. The protagonists’ main conflict—the disapproval of their parents—reads as a not-very-subtle plot device that would have benefited from more development. However, the illustrations bring life to the graphic novel, particularly when it comes to the characters’ sartorial creativity, demonstrating the range of Noah’s talent. Noah is Black; Azarie is White, and background characters are ethnically diverse.

A charming effort with a positive message about being true to oneself. (Graphic fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-952303-23-4

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Mad Cave Studios

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A timely and well-paced story of personal discovery.

DISPLACEMENT

Time travel brings a girl closer to someone she’s never known.

Sixteen-year-old Kiku, who is Japanese and white, only knows bits and pieces of her family history. While on a trip with her mother to San Francisco from their Seattle home, they search for her grandmother’s childhood home. While waiting for her mother, who goes inside to explore the mall now standing there, a mysterious fog envelops Kiku and displaces her to a theater in the past where a girl is playing the violin. The gifted musician is Ernestina Teranishi, who Kiku later confirms is her late grandmother. To Kiku’s dismay, the fog continues to transport her, eventually dropping her down next door to Ernestina’s family in a World War II Japanese American internment camp. The clean illustrations in soothing browns and blues convey the characters’ intense emotions. Hughes takes inspiration from her own family’s story, deftly balancing complicated national history with explorations of cultural dislocation and biracial identity. As Kiku processes her experiences, Hughes draws parallels to President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and the incarceration of migrant children. The emotional connection between Kiku and her grandmother is underdeveloped; despite their being neighbors, Ernestina appears briefly and feels elusive to both Kiku and readers up to the very end. Despite some loose ends, readers will gain insights to the Japanese American incarceration and feel called to activism.

A timely and well-paced story of personal discovery. (photographs, author’s note, glossary, further reading) (Graphic historical fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-19353-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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BEOWULF

Pairing art from an earlier, self-published edition to a newly adapted text, Hinds retells the old tale as a series of dark, bloody, chaotic clashes. Here Grendel is a glaring, black monster with huge teeth, corded muscles and a tendency to smash or bite off adversaries’ heads; the dragon is all sinuous viciousness; and Beowulf, mighty of thew, towers over his fellow Geats. The narrative, boxed off from the illustrations rather than incorporated into them, runs to lines like, “Bid my brave warriors O Wiglaf, to build a lofty cairn for me upon the sea-cliffs . . . ” and tends to disappear when the fighting starts. Because the panels are jumbled together on the page, the action is sometimes hard to follow, but this makes a strongly atmospheric alternative to the semi-abstract Beowulf, the Legend, by Stephen L. Antczak and James C. Bassett, illus by Andy Lee (2006), or the more conventionally formatted version of Michael Morpurgo, with pictures by Michael Foreman (2006). (Graphic fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3022-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

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