An intriguing introduction.

A Jewish social activist who loves dogs: Meet DC’s newest superhero.

Origin story 101: a difficult backstory (Willow’s mother has cancer and they can’t afford treatment); the onset of powers (a Killer Croc attack somehow makes Willow able to communicate with the stray dog she’s befriended); the moral quandary (Willow’s financial savior is her mother’s estranged friend E. Nigma, better known to DC fans as the Riddler); and finally, the decision to take on a secret identity (the titular Whistle). The script offers some exciting changes to the formula: Willow Zimmerman is explicitly Jewish, while (new to DC lore) neighborhood Down River has a multiethnic, Lower East Side feel—and teenage Willow is emphatically not a sidekick. The dialogue lacks subtlety but moves the story along, although the overreliance on expository captions highlights the fact that the versatile Lockhart hasn’t previously worked in comics. The moody illustrations pair easy-to-follow large panels with occasional full-page spreads. Warm orange fills Willow’s scenes and conveys her warmth and fire for justice; when the action moves to E. Nigma and Pammie Isley (another Gotham villain), the cool white and greens predominate, fitting the calculated machinations happening off-page. As befits an origin story, the superhero/vigilante element is relegated to the back half. The villains read as White; the background cast reflects the diversity of New York City.

An intriguing introduction. (Graphic adventure. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4012-9322-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021


From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011


From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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