A sweet-mannered debut with plenty of lift, despite the abrupt and wide-open ending.

MADDY KETTLE

THE ADVENTURE OF THE THIMBLEWITCH

From the Maddy Kettle series , Vol. 1

Intrepid young Maddy encounters goblins, flying whales, and allies ranging from a friendly vampire bat to a pair of “cloud cartographers” in this kickoff chapter.

It’s bad enough that her mild-mannered parents have been transformed into kangaroo rats by the fearsome Thimblewitch—when they’re kidnapped by spider goblins, along with her beloved floating spadefoot toad, Ralph, there’s nothing for it but to set off to the rescue. Traveling with two chance-met balloonist mapmakers, Maddy is amazed to discover that there’s a whole unsuspected world in and above the clouds. But more surprises await: Though Orchard draws both the witch and the goblins with sharp teeth and menacing red eyes, when Maddy tracks her down, the witch turns out to be a well-meaning tinkerer whose magic has gone awry. Moreover, the goblins are skittish but not hostile creatures desperate to replace the stolen power source that keeps their smog-belching city afloat. In return for Ralph and having her parents restored to their original forms, Maddy flies off into future episodes to recover the goblins’ magic. The tale is a stream of imaginative twists and aerial wonders, flowing along easily in a mix of full-page scenes and large sequential panels of lucidly drawn action and pithy dialogue.

A sweet-mannered debut with plenty of lift, despite the abrupt and wide-open ending. (Graphic fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60309-072-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Top Shelf Productions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more.

LONG DISTANCE

After moving to a new city, a girl attends a wilderness camp to help her make new friends.

When astronomy-obsessed 9-year-old Vega’s dad Wes gets a new job, the family moves from Portland to Seattle. Vega is not happy about this change and doesn’t want to leave her best friend behind, worrying they will grow apart. Vega’s dad Javi thinks making new friends will help her adjust, so he signs her up for Camp Very Best Friend, which is designed to help introverted local children build new friendships. Vega is not exactly eager to go but makes a deal with Wes, agreeing to try out camp as long as he tries to make a new friend too. It quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary outdoor adventure, and Vega and her fellow campers try to figure out what is really going on. The story smoothly incorporates STEM facts with insets on the page to define and highlight terms or tools. An unexpected twist toward the end of this fast-paced adventure that reveals the truth behind the camp will surprise readers. The clean, bright artwork is enhanced by panels of varying shapes and clear, easy-to-follow speech bubbles. Race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are not explicitly addressed; characters’ names and physical appearances indicate a broadly diverse cast starting with brown-skinned Vega and her two dads.

A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more. (Graphic fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5566-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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NIGHTLIGHTS

When a young girl’s imagination and creativity are co-opted by a mysterious new friend, she must find a way to regain what is rightfully hers.

Sandy is a brown-skinned, dark-haired girl with big black eyes and a vivid imagination. At night, as she goes to sleep, she catches the lights bobbing about in her room and turns them into anything she imagines. The next day is spent drawing the fantastical creatures from her dreams, much to the detriment of her schoolwork. When a tall, pale-skinned girl with purple hair befriends her, Sandy is excited, though there is something eerie and unsettling about her new companion. Her excitement soon turns to anger as Morfie enters her imaginative nighttime world and tries to take it over. Readers will cheer at the clever way in which Sandy regains control. Using a lovely palette that includes a liberal amount of rich, dark purple, Colombian-born Alvarez has drawn a world that harks back to her native Bogotá and days in Catholic school, evoking it in wonderful detail and atmosphere. Her pages are not crowded yet are filled with details that will engage readers. The beings that inhabit Sandy’s nighttime world are simply delightful. The album size, cloth spine binding, and spot gloss on the cover are the icing on the cake of this beautiful graphic novel.

A winner. (Graphic fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-910620-13-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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