Bright and altogether engaging; aspiring entomologists should find it extra amusing.

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10 LITTLE INSECTS

A remote island and a weekend getaway, with murder on the menu.

Think Agatha Christie’s classic Ten Little Indians retold as a graphic novel, an inspiration that Cali’s characters freely reference in the story. These characters, guests on remote Tortoise Island, are various insects: a fly called McFly, who comes in on an airplane; green Mr. Krikkit, who plays a guitar; the tall, yellow, segmented Johnny Nail; and others. Each thinks he’s coming for a different reason: a medical conference, swim meet, etc. An ominous recorded voice upbraids all assembled for unspecified misdeeds and predicts their imminent deaths. (The female praying mantis admits to tearing off her husband’s head and then eating him, but that’s just normal mantis behavior.) Accusations, search parties and crazy killings follow. One insect is poisoned when cider is added to the dung all are feasting on; another is locked in the freezer; a third drowns while trying to swim to the mainland for help. Secret tunnels, a mysterious lighthouse, a skull and a séance all figure into the twisty tongue-in-cheek plot. The storytelling is ably carried along by Cali’s punnish narrative and Pianina’s colorful cartoon panels, which run from five to 10 per page. The playful cover and book size falsely imply a story for young children, but it’s more for preteens and even teens.

Bright and altogether engaging; aspiring entomologists should find it extra amusing. (Graphic mystery. 10-15)

Pub Date: June 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9871099-1-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Wilkins Farago/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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This winning paranormal uses witchcraft to explore adolescent rebellion.

THE OKAY WITCH

It is Halloween when Moth Hush finds out she is descended from a line of witches.

Her mother reveals the story of their witch origins going back to 17th-century Europe, which Moth’s maternal grandmother, Sarah, fled along with her order for supposed safety in Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, only to find persecution there. Led by Sarah, the witches escaped the wrath of the Puritans through a blood ritual that opened a portal to Hecate, a spiritual realm that provided safety. Moth’s mother rebelled and broke away from the coven to live in the real world, ultimately as a single parent to Moth in the 21st century. After a talking black cat (the spirit of a deceased neighbor) appears and befriends Moth, Moth peeks at her mother’s diary—which opens a portal to Hecate, and Moth secretly begins to practice spells unsupervised and to connect with her family there. Moth and family sort through a complicated lineage whose legacy reveals itself to be very much alive in present-day Founder’s Bluff. In Steinkellner’s graphic panels, Moth and her family have brown skin and puffy dark hair, and the 17th-century coven is shown to be multiracial. The complex history provides a mechanism through which Moth sorts through her own coming-of-age as a modern girl of color, and it’s the loving, oftentimes humorous rapport among the Hush women that grounds this graphic novel.

This winning paranormal uses witchcraft to explore adolescent rebellion. (Graphic fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3146-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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