This particularly smart delineation of Pelé has it all: his career, his blunders, decency, and goodness. And his gift.

PELÉ

THE KING OF SOCCER

Soccer great Pelé’s story has been told far, wide, and well, but Simon and Brascaglia provide the full context—its cultural, economic, political, and physical geography—it deserves.

Pelé—there simply isn’t a more recognizable word in the world of soccer. His numbers alone are absurd, and his ball handling appeared to be controlled by some anti-gravitational device. Then there’s his attitude, his radiant smile—in a key early moment, the book shows how his father, an ex-pro, was a major influence on nurturing his natural gifts and teaching him how to find gratitude in his talent. The graphic panels have a range of moods and energy, the gloaming of the barrio of Três Corações, Brazil, with its plum reds and burnt browns, contrasting with the great, glittering stadiums. But in these panels, too, will be found the class differences that sunder Brazil, the political chicanery, corruption, and anti-democratic violence, along with the CIA’s cooperation therein. Pelé, to his abiding credit, disassociated himself from the Brazilian national team as a gesture against the violent junta ruling the country. The book doesn’t shy from his few rather unfortunate missteps of his own—personal ones as well as distasteful comments about soccer’s governing body and the building of the stadium in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.

This particularly smart delineation of Pelé has it all: his career, his blunders, decency, and goodness. And his gift. (Graphic biography. 8-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-755-7

Page Count: 146

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A rich and deeply felt slice of life.

JUST PRETEND

Crafting fantasy worlds offers a budding middle school author relief and distraction from the real one in this graphic memoir debut.

Everyone in Tori’s life shows realistic mixes of vulnerability and self-knowledge while, equally realistically, seeming to be making it up as they go. At least, as she shuttles between angrily divorced parents—dad becoming steadily harder to reach, overstressed mom spectacularly incapable of reading her offspring—or drifts through one wearingly dull class after another, she has both vivacious bestie Taylor Lee and, promisingly, new classmate Nick as well as the (all-girl) heroic fantasy, complete with portals, crystal amulets, and evil enchantments, taking shape in her mind and on paper. The flow of school projects, sleepovers, heart-to-heart conversations with Taylor, and like incidents (including a scene involving Tori’s older brother, who is having a rough adolescence, that could be seen as domestic violence) turns to a tide of change as eighth grade winds down and brings unwelcome revelations about friends. At least the story remains as solace and, at the close, a sense that there are still chapters to come in both worlds. Working in a simple, expressive cartoon style reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s, Sharp captures facial and body language with easy naturalism. Most people in the spacious, tidily arranged panels are White; Taylor appears East Asian, and there is diversity in background characters.

A rich and deeply felt slice of life. (afterword, design notes) (Graphic memoir. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53889-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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