Neither illuminating nor truly inclusive.



Asher collaborates with Freeburg and Stokely for a new take on the mysterious medieval tale of the “Pied Piper of Hamelin.”

White, red-haired Maggie feels isolated in her village of Hameln. Deaf since childhood, she speaks and reads lips to communicate but feels lonely due to the callousness of the townspeople. Her only solace is telling stories to her loving guardian, Agathe, and dreaming of romance. Prejudice isn’t the only problem in Hameln—the village is overrun with rats that destroy the village’s resources and rapidly spread disease. Things play out much as in the original tale with the addition of a romance that ends in tragedy—and a twist on the familiar ending. Unfortunately, the representation of disability lacks attention to detail; there are multiple panels in which a character is not in Maggie’s sight lines but Maggie responds as if she has read their lips. Stokely’s art is otherwise friendly and approachable, full of earth tones and individually rendered characters. Framing the graphic novel with an opening authors’ note titled “Seeking History in a Legend,” Asher and Freeburg attempt to situate their retelling as revelatory: “And we’ve waited over seven hundreds [sic] years to find out what [happened].” While Asher and Freeburg lean heavily on magic rather than history, in contrast to their opening, their interpretation may pique the curiosity of readers new to the story.

Neither illuminating nor truly inclusive. (Graphic fantasy. 12-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-448-49366-4

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.


From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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