With strengths outweighing flaws, this is a dark yet digestible visual delight with an endearing investigative trio.

SUEE AND THE SHADOW

A visually refreshing treat from South Korea, Ly and Park’s debut graphic novel features Suee Lee, a 12-year-old girl with sharp intelligence, a world-weary view, and a pointy hairdo.

Suee Lee is not pleased that she has been transferred from Bustle Elementary on Bustle Street to Outskirts Elementary in Outskirtsville. She chooses to keep to herself rather than try to befriend either “queen bee,” “jerk,” “dim bulb,” or “loser” but gets tangled up in trouble when a strange voice beckons her into the eerie exhibit room at school. Suee wakes up in the nurse’s office, and soon after, her shadow begins to speak, taunting Suee and threatening her classmates. While Suee Lee verbally spars with her own shadow, the creepy vice principal expands his disturbing after-school classes for “zeros.” When students begin to act like zombies and lose their shadows, Suee reluctantly befriends the shy and bullied Haeun as well as the confident and handsome Hyunwoo. The unlikely threesome launch the Zero Detective Club to investigate. The graphics are simultaneously menacing and exquisitely clean, superbly honed in a shiny palette of jet, ash, and crimson. It’s to the author’s credit that readers will be unsure about whom to root for until the very end. The wry writing deftly captures preteen angst, but the story meanders, at times devolving into awkward dialogue, and the embedded moral to the story is tediously corny.

With strengths outweighing flaws, this is a dark yet digestible visual delight with an endearing investigative trio. (Graphic horror. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2563-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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