There are no simple answers in this thoughtful outing.

THE HOCKEY SAINT

A graphic novel slips home the fact that sports stars run the gamut of miseries we everyday Joes and Janes must confront.

Jeremiah “Jake” Jacobson is the world’s best hockey player, but he is a public relation man’s nightmare: He won’t do Q-and-As or sell products for the good of the marketing department. Indeed, though he may rack up points like a pinballer on a hot streak, he is practically a recluse. Tom Leonard, on the other hand, is a college sophomore in awe of Jacobson, and they become friends through a chance encounter. Tom soon learns that Jake gets some cool perks with the fame—private dining rooms, private screenings of movies—and he also learns that Jake does a lot of volunteer work on the down low. Jake also smokes like a chimney and drinks way too much booze. So starts the slow revelation of truths: Sports are only as good as your love of the game; secrecy and denial gradually core you like an apple; all of us must address painful issues. Shapiro does a good job of expressing how difficult—and important—it is to talk about our emotions and weaknesses and that good friendship runs deep with thoughtful honesty. Inoue’s illustrations are clean-lined if sometimes difficult to read, while Mossa’s coloring creates a moody atmosphere.

There are no simple answers in this thoughtful outing. (Graphic fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9912550-1-6

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Animal Media Group

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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ROBOT DREAMS

A wordless graphic novel provides a plangent meditation on the nature of friendship. When a dog buys a mail-order robot kit and puts it together, the two become fast friends. On an ill-fated trip to the beach salt water works its corrosive way on the robot, and the dog is forced to leave his immobilized friend lying on its towel on the sand. Their separate stories unfold over the next 11 months, as the dog makes an effort to repair his friend, only to discover the beach has closed, then turns to other friendships, while the robot lies suffering the ravages of weather and neglect and dreaming of friendships past and possible. Varon’s muted blues, grays and browns set the emotional tone for this tale, angularly regular hand-framed panels that only rarely vary with frameless images serving to emphasize the emotional confinement of her protagonists. The resolution is psychologically ambiguous, denying readers the satisfaction of a happy reunion but offering them the harder-edged truth that friendships change and die—but others can rise in their place. Witty and plaintive by turns, this is thoughtful, provocative pleasure. (Graphic novel. 8-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-59643-108-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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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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