Not a necessary purchase but may appeal to middle school readers looking for a different kind of superpowered adventure.

TSU AND THE OUTLIERS

A nonverbal boy and his sasquatch buddy are pursued by a sinister organization in Johnson’s (co-author: Original Fake, 2016, etc.) solo graphic novel debut.

Tsu, a boy who rides the “short bus” to school, may not speak but still communicates effectively with expressions and gestures. When his disability (never specified in the text) makes him a target for bullies in his rural town, he escapes to the woods and the company of a reclusive creature, marvelously depicted as being as gnarled and massive as the ancient trees he dwells among. Tsu’s own hidden powers attract the attention of an unscrupulous chimpanzeelike scientist and his sinuous, venomous chupacabralike sidekick who hunt “outliers” for mysterious purposes. The oddball premise is well-matched to the scratchy, ink-heavy art accented by monochrome color washes, reminiscent of 1950s horror comics. Unfortunately, important details of the narrative are muddled and inconsistent, the reasons for Tsu’s final choices are unclear, and the unspecified cause of his muteness makes the eventual cure potentially troubling. Nonetheless, Tsu’s loneliness and isolation, and the sweetness of the bond with his unlikely friend, are both poignant and potent. The open ending reads like the setup for a series. Tsu’s mother is named Hana, and their names, plus a passing reference by a bully to speaking gibberish, may be cues that they are Japanese.

Not a necessary purchase but may appeal to middle school readers looking for a different kind of superpowered adventure. (Graphic fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-941250-24-2

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Uncivilized Books

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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A charming adaptation.

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

From the Manga Classics series

A miscommunication leaves Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert responsible for a plucky, effusive orphan girl instead of the boy they’d expected to help maintain their farm.

Retold in traditional manga format, with right-to-left panel orientation and detailed black-and-white linework, this adaptation is delightfully faithful to the source text. Larger panels establish the idyllic country landscape while subtle text boxes identify the setting—Prince Edward Island, Canada, in the 1870s. The book follows redheaded Anne Shirley from her arrival at Green Gables at 11 to her achievement of a college scholarship. In the intervening years, Anne finds stability, friendship, personal growth, and ambition in Avonlea and in the strict but well-intentioned Cuthbert siblings’ household. The familiar story is enhanced by the exciting new format and lush illustrations. A variety of panel layouts provides visual freshness, maintaining reader interest. Backmatter includes the floor plan of the Green Gables house, as well as interior and exterior views, and notes about research on the actual location. A description of the process of adapting the novel to this visual format indicates the care that was taken to highlight particular elements of the story as well as to remain faithful to the smallest details. Readers who find the original text challenging will welcome this as an aid to comprehension and Anne’s existing fans will savor a fresh perspective on their beloved story. All characters appear to be White.

A charming adaptation. (Graphic fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947808-18-8

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Manga Classics

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A first-rate visual reframing: sensitive, artistically brilliant, and as charged as its enigmatic predecessor with profound...

THE GIVER

From the Giver Quartet series

An eerie graphic version of the Newbery Award–winning classic.

Russell (Murder Mysteries and Other Stories, 2015, etc.) pays no more attention than Lowry (Looking Back, 2016, etc.) did to continuity of detail or to justifying the counterintuitive notion that memories can be shed by transmitting them, but without taking significant liberties he skillfully captures the original’s full, creeping horror. By depicting human figures with uncommonly precise realism, bearing calm, smiling demeanors and moving through tidy 1950s style settings, he establishes an almost trite air of utopian normality at the outset…then proceeds to undermine it with disquieting (to say the least) incidents capped by an explicit view of Jonas’ serene dad “releasing” a supernumerary newborn by ramming a hypodermic into its head. He also neatly solves the color issue by composing his many small sequential scenes in blue pencil outlines with occasional pale washes—which makes Jonas’ disturbing ability to “see beyond,” from the red in an apple and a classmate’s hair to the garish orange memories the Giver downloads to his brain, startlingly vivid and presages the polychrome wilderness into which he ultimately vanishes. Jonas and the rest of the cast are uniformly light-skinned and generically European of feature, but that is explicitly established as part of the hideous scenario.

A first-rate visual reframing: sensitive, artistically brilliant, and as charged as its enigmatic predecessor with profound challenges to mind and heart. (interviews with the creators) (Graphic dystopian fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-544-15788-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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