Surely there are more nuanced female characters than this.

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SPACE ALIEN…ALMOST?

From the Amy's Diary series , Vol. 1

While her teen angst is universal, diarist Amy feels like she is from another world.

Fourteen-year-old Amy, who has a generous smattering of freckles and sprightly ginger hair, dutifully records many familiar teen trials and tribulations: crushes, unrelenting embarrassment, and social squabbles. Her best friend, Kat, dithers between ignoring her for a boy and demanding Amy’s full attention when her relationship falters. Amy is in a tenuous relationship with Nick, a cute skater boy with whom she likes to kiss but finds herself tongue-tied when they actually talk. Her father died five years ago; now Amy struggles less with grief and more with her mother’s beginning to date. While Amy’s problems may seem familiar, they are never explored with any real depth. Throughout her narrative, there is little personal growth; the only things that change with any regularity are her sartorial selections. Every time Amy finds herself in a difficult situation, she runs from it, wearing thin any awkward charm. Even her space-alien feelings seem flimsy and perfunctory. Told in a diary format alongside full-color comic panels, this graphic novel was originally published in French in 2015 as an adaptation of a novel published nearly a decade earlier; this version contains scenes that read off these days, such as an unfunny joke about hamster rape and an unnecessarily awkward moment surrounding a dropped tampon. Amy’s world seems to be a white, middle-class one.

Surely there are more nuanced female characters than this. (Graphic fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5458-0215-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Papercutz

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Readers will definitely want to have, know or be Maggie’s brothers—but she herself proves to be no slouch when it comes to...

FRIENDS WITH BOYS

Nervous, home-schooled by her absent and much-missed mom and saddled with three adored older brothers—and a ghost—Maggie starts high school.

Largely but not entirely left by her doting upper-grade sibs (who had “first days” of their own) to sink or swim, Maggie starts off in lonely isolation but quickly finds two great friends in Mohawk-wearing, multiply pierced, exuberantly logorrheic classmate Lucy and her quieter (but also Mohawk-topped) brother Alistair. Simmering complications soon reach a boil as Maggie discovers that Alistair and her own oldest brother Daniel have some sort of bad history, and on a more eldritch note, a woman’s ghost that Maggie had occasionally seen in the nearby graveyard takes to floating into her house and right up to her face. Filling monochrome ink-and-wash panels with wonderfully mobile faces, expressively posed bodies, wordless conversations in meaningful glances, funny banter and easy-to-read visual sequences ranging from hilarious to violent, Hicks crafts an upbeat, uncommonly engaging tale rich in humor, suspense, and smart, complex characters.

Readers will definitely want to have, know or be Maggie’s brothers—but she herself proves to be no slouch when it comes to coping with change and taking on challenges. (Graphic fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-556-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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Packaged to recall other diary tales of middle school (faux-spiral binding, scratchy, faux-handprinted type—often hard to...

JOURNAL OF A SCHOOLYARD BULLY

NOTES ON NOOGIES, WET WILLIES, AND WEDGIES

From the Journal of a Schoolyard Bully series , Vol. 1

Combine Roald Dahl’s Twits and other villains, mix with the first-person–journaling trope and the comedic result might look something like this.

In his “Bully’s Log,” seventh-grader Niko Kayler provides an episodic text-and-pictures look at what he regards as the craft of bullying. Anything smelly, humiliating or painful (if not exactly lethal) provides the essence of a good trick to play on his victims, and he doesn’t stint on firing any number of wildly exaggerated blows at the random nerds who annoy him. Niko’s rogues’ gallery of bullies he most admires includes both Lucifer and Santa Claus. Katz picks the low-hanging…er, fruit of boogers, poop and farts to fill out his young antihero’s arsenal of tricks and tips for successful bullying. Occasional exclamations of “God!” and the use of adjectives like “mother-puking” send Niko’s malevolence veering off into slightly older teen territory (he says of cyberbullying, “I think it’s cheap and dirty. Like falling in love in Las Vegas”), and how many middle schoolers will recognize a reference to M. Night Shyamalan? The energy also seems to flag a bit with one relentlessly malicious sort of mayhem following another.

Packaged to recall other diary tales of middle school (faux-spiral binding, scratchy, faux-handprinted type—often hard to read—and roughly drawn illustrations), this take on the rotten inner life of a true bully is a mixed bag. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-68158-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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