A worthy, faithful companion to the prose novels.

The Monsterjunkies

AN AMERICAN FAMILY ODYSSEY, VOLUME 1

A graphic novel adaptation of the Monsterjunkies YA adventure.

Talon and Pandora Monsterjunkie use their mansion in Foggy Point, Maine, as a sanctuary for rare and endangered creatures. In their care are the pituitary giants Frances and Betty, a pygmy elephant, a sea monster, and a sasquatch named Beau (among many others). The Monsterjunkies keep their lives as cryptozoologists private, fearing that the outside world might exploit or turn violent against them. Yet the Monsterjunkie children, Crow and Indigo, have the normal teenage desires to fit in and have friends. Talon and Pandora bring a few creatures to the kids’ schools for show and tell, dispelling some of the mystery shrouding the family. Indigo befriends a girl named Winter, and Crow eventually hits it off with a trio of classmates after they sneak onto the Monsterjunkies’ property (only to be terrified by Beau). Later, when a group of bullies picks on Winter, Crow and his friends are drawn into an escalating prank war. The lead bully, Ruth, is encouraged by his rich and powerful father, who’s busy using connections to run the Monsterjunkies out of town. Can the family rise above the prejudice of a hateful minority? This graphic novel adaptation by Jay Fotos Studios is delightfully faithful, in spirit and dialogue, to the original material. The art presents wide-eyed, smiling characters who skew fairly close to those found in Archie comics. The color palette is mostly subdued greens and browns, except for bolder colors that help the creatures jump from the panels. Shein and Gates’ important themes of standing against bullies without stooping to their levels and battling homophobia carry over from their novel. There’s also an anti-smoking and -drinking message, as Ruth and his evil father indulge frequently. For the wrap-up, the authors rely on realistic solutions to the Monsterjunkies’ problems—like Talon working less and being more available to Crow—which keeps the characters identifiable (and admirable) to readers of all ages. Fans will surely welcome a follow-up adaptation.

A worthy, faithful companion to the prose novels.

Pub Date: March 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-615-99015-6

Page Count: 82

Publisher: Red Anvil Comics

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath...

GREGORY AND THE GRIMBOCKLE

In this debut middle-grade novel, a lonely boy finds friendship and learns about the magic of human connection.

Defined by the large mole on his lip, 10-year-old Gregory has grown distant from his family. He is friendless and withdrawn. Then one night a strange little creature emerges from Gregory’s mole. It is riding a (quite lovable) cockroach and can change size. This is the Grimbockle. The Grimbockle—one of many Bockles, who, like Palmer Cox’s Brownies, live at the peripheries of human awareness—tends to the exoodles that bind people together. Exoodles are long, transparent, noodlelike threads and are usually invisible. Once Gregory has his eyeballs painted with Carrot Juicy, though, he can see them. He joins the Grimbockle and the roach, traveling the exoodles as if on a high-speed roller coaster. Exoodles wither and die when people don’t look after their relationships. The Grimbockle is trying to repair a particularly sickly exoodle that links a boy to his mother. Can Gregory help—and can he mend the exoodles in his own life? Schubert follows delightedly in the footsteps of Roald Dahl, opening her unfortunate young protagonist’s eyes to a previously unseen world both weird and wondrous (yet for all its outlandish magic, oddly logical). The scenario is one of riotous imagination, while the Grimbockle himself—brought sweetly to life in black-and-white illustrations by Kraft—is a sprightly and good-natured little person, full of the type of singsong infelicities found in Dahl’s beloved nonhuman characters: “Is you ever seeing glimpses of squiggles in the corners of your twinklers but then they is disappearing in a snippety blink?” “ ‘Exoodles!’ shouted the Grimbockle in triumph. ‘Sometimes, hoo-mans is getting so twisty and wound up in extra exoodles that they is feeling gloomy blue and heavy all day long.’ ” The story is perhaps too much of a parable to fully match Dahl’s template; the adventure is safer and the threats less dark. Nonetheless, readers should fall willingly and with thrilled abandon into the fizzy, fanciful world of Gregory and his Grimbockle friend.

A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath surface appearances.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9911109-3-3

Page Count: 153

Publisher: New Wrinkle Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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