From the Dark Agents series , Vol. 1

Thoughtful, fun, and educative.

A young witch trains to become an agent of the Underworld Intelligence Agency.

Long ago, Greek gods divided the world into three realms, and Hades, after being assigned the Underworld, created an agency to unite immortals with mortals who possess special gifts to maintain order around the world. Violet is one of the agency’s new students, a Ukrainian witch whose parents were horrifically killed in front of her by a powerful necromancer when she was a young child. Now, as a 19-year-old Dark Agent–in-training, Violet and her fellow recruits learn how to use their powers, engage in the art of combat, and, most importantly, understand their emotions. Scarlet draws from her experience as a psychologist to offer this self-help graphic fantasy that blends Greek mythology and education with a strong focus on the principles of mindfulness. Violet’s PTSD and the other recruits’ mental health struggles are addressed head-on and compassionately explored as the most meaningful lessons in their training. Alvendia uses simple panel layouts with uncluttered backgrounds which allow the characters and their emotions to take center stage. His vividly drawn, cartoonlike style is heavy on blacks and grays with splashes of bright color. While the focus is on the psychological background of the characters, the worldbuilding is fun, fast-paced, and engaging. Violet is white, and there is diversity in the rest of the cast.

Thoughtful, fun, and educative. (Graphic fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68403-174-0

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Instant Help Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020


From the Pocket Change Collective series

Small but mighty necessary reading.

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020


Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future.

An adaptation for teens of the adult title A Queer History of the United States (2011).

Divided into thematic sections, the text filters LGBTQIA+ history through key figures in each era from the 1500s to the present. Alongside watershed moments like the 1969 Stonewall uprising and the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, the text brings to light less well-known people, places, and events: the 1625 free love colony of Merrymount, transgender Civil War hero Albert D.J. Cashier, and the 1951 founding of the Mattachine Society, to name a few. Throughout, the author and adapter take care to use accurate pronouns and avoid imposing contemporary terminology onto historical figures. In some cases, they quote primary sources to speculate about same-sex relationships while also reminding readers of past cultural differences in expressing strong affection between friends. Black-and-white illustrations or photos augment each chapter. Though it lacks the teen appeal and personable, conversational style of Sarah Prager’s Queer, There, and Everywhere (2017), this textbook-level survey contains a surprising amount of depth. However, the mention of transgender movements and activism—in particular, contemporary issues—runs on the slim side. Whereas chapters are devoted to over 30 ethnically diverse gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer figures, some trans pioneers such as Christine Jorgensen and Holly Woodlawn are reduced to short sidebars.

Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future. (glossary, photo credits, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8070-5612-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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