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

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Dolphin lovers will appreciate this look at our complicated relationship with these marine mammals.

HOW TO SPEAK DOLPHIN

Is dolphin-assisted therapy so beneficial to patients that it’s worth keeping a wild dolphin captive?

Twelve-year-old Lily has lived with her emotionally distant oncologist stepfather and a succession of nannies since her mother died in a car accident two years ago. Nannies leave because of the difficulty of caring for Adam, Lily’s severely autistic 4-year-old half brother. The newest, Suzanne, seems promising, but Lily is tired of feeling like a planet orbiting the sun Adam. When she meets blind Zoe, who will attend the same private middle school as Lily in the fall, Lily’s happy to have a friend. However, Zoe’s take on the plight of the captive dolphin, Nori, used in Adam’s therapy opens Lily’s eyes. She knows she must use her influence over her stepfather, who is consulting on Nori’s treatment for cancer (caused by an oil spill), to free the animal. Lily’s got several fine lines to walk, as she works to hold onto her new friend, convince her stepfather of the rightness of releasing Nori, and do what’s best for Adam. In her newest exploration of animal-human relationships, Rorby’s lonely, mature heroine faces tough but realistic situations. Siblings of children on the spectrum will identify with Lily. If the tale flirts with sentimentality and some of the characters are strident in their views, the whole never feels maudlin or didactic.

Dolphin lovers will appreciate this look at our complicated relationship with these marine mammals. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-67605-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more