An engaging adventure that shows the strength that can be discovered amid tragedy.

BRIDGE OF THE GODS

From the The Silver Mountain Series series , Vol. 1

This middle-grade debut finds an audacious child—with a knack for bonding with animals—thrown into peril by her scheming uncle.

In 1908, 12-year-old Clothilde is the only child of Lord and Lady Ashton, new residents of Fairfax, Oregon. Preferring the name Chloe, the precocious girl loves to explore the nearby wilds while her parents run the Mercantile, an imported fabric shop. Life feels idyllic, as Chloe realizes that the house’s staff and woodland creatures alike adore her. Then one day, tragedy strikes her parents, leaving her family shattered. Chloe retreats into a world of literature and befriends a remarkably intelligent white rat whom she names Shakespeare. Further change comes in the form of Uncle Blake Underwood, who arrives to help maintain the Mercantile. But Blake is the shiftiest of characters and quickly compromises the entire estate. He abducts Chloe, bringing her by horse-drawn carriage among a band of vagabonds, intending to sell her. Not without her own natural gifts, Chloe comes to know and speak with Greybelle, her uncle’s horse. The mare describes her own tragic past as well as an ancient battle between the mountains themselves that left the landscape in ruins. If the girl is to escape, she must learn the extent of her own abilities, and just how deep the land’s magic runs. In this appealing novel, Rios writes with an abiding love of nature, illustrating in scene after scene the power people may draw from it. When Chloe displays wonder that animals understand her, Greybelle says, “The respect you show to all beings—human, animal, or plant—is also your ‘voice,’ and they all hear it loud and clear.” As her fortunes wax and wane, Chloe meets other charismatic individuals like the Artist and Mrs. Goodweather. Rios keeps the danger real by using only low-key magic—like enchanted paintings and pies—that feels “so familiar and so natural that it was almost not like magic at all.” The mystery surrounding a suspiciously cloistered hospital and its reckless ambulance drivers should draw readers to the sequel.

An engaging adventure that shows the strength that can be discovered amid tragedy.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63152-244-4

Page Count: 344

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2017

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A reimagined folktale as grand as its painted visuals are sublime.

SHUNA'S JOURNEY

A dangerous quest to feed an impoverished land leads to chance encounters and awe-inspiring sights.

Shuna, the prince of a humble, struggling country, acts on the advice of a dying traveler from an Eastern land to seek out seeds that will grow bountiful grains. What he finds is a hostile city built on greed with an active slave trade. After meeting Thea and her little sister, Shuna fights to free them from enslavers. Every scene in this cinematic work stands apart with breathtaking watercolors aided by expert staging and blocking. The sights along Shuna’s journey range from a derelict ship in a treacherous desert to supernatural creatures and settings. The certainty and simplicity of Shuna’s motivations along with Thea’s own narrative arc allow the story to move nimbly from one larger-than-life spectacle to another. The pages read right-to-left manga style, while large panels and minimal dialogue create an immediate, immersive experience for readers. The narration sits outside or along the edges of panels, allowing the lush visuals maximum room to impress. Afterwords from the author and translator describe the story’s roots in a Tibetan folktale as well as comparisons to Miyazaki’s later animated works; this story, translated from Japanese, was originally published in Japan in 1983 before Miyazaki rose to fame with Studio Ghibli. The story’s cultural origins are cued through characters’ garb and other visual elements.

A reimagined folktale as grand as its painted visuals are sublime. (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-84652-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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