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

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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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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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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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