Like Godot, this book is both comic and perplexing. Readers with an absurdist sensibility will appreciate the slow pacing....

APOCALYPSE BOW WOW

It would be wrong to say that this book is Waiting for Godot with dogs, despite superficial similarities.

This graphic novel isn’t much like Samuel Beckett’s play, although it is arranged in scenes. The main problem in Godot is existential angst. The main problem in this comic is doorknobs. Dogs can’t open doors, so they have to wait for their owners to bring them food, and the wait is endless, because every human in the world seems to have disappeared after an unnamed disaster. There are lengthy, circular conversations about food: “I’m hungry.” “Aren’t you always hungry?” The comic book has more fight scenes than Godot, which means there are multiple appearances by the book’s funniest character, a flea who’s read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. He’s always ready to give the dogs cryptic advice: “The opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” Unfortunately, whenever he leaves the story, the dialogue turns mundane. Here’s Scene 3 in its entirety: “How come you get to lie on the couch?” Some readers will find the banality hilarious. No other post-apocalyptic novel has this many conversations about furniture. And the black-and-white artwork is endearingly primitive. The dogs are shaped like little sausages or maybe heretofore-undiscovered continents.

Like Godot, this book is both comic and perplexing. Readers with an absurdist sensibility will appreciate the slow pacing. Other children may get tired of waiting. (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61963-442-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

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WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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