A fascinating, tantalizing glimpse.

STONE MIRRORS

THE SCULPTURE AND SILENCE OF EDMONIA LEWIS

Edmonia Lewis was a noted African-American sculptor whose career begins in this verse novel set in the late 1800s.

Edmonia, who is of African-Haitian and Ojibwe descent, is attending the newly racially integrated Oberlin College in 1862. The story opens immediately with a secret romance that barely has a chance to blossom, as a startling scandal arises when Edmonia is accused of the attempted murder of two white female students she had befriended. Though she is acquitted, Edmonia’s character is permanently scarred by the event, and she is forced to leave Oberlin before graduating. Fate connects Edmonia to mentoring from accomplished sculptors, which leads her to travel to Rome, a place where she flourishes to become an internationally known sculptor. From sparse historical records, Atkins creates a memorable, poetic tale that offers a fictional account of what life may have been like for Edmonia, backgrounding this with solid research into the era. Stories of doomed love, in particular the biblical tale of Hagar, act as thematic touchstones, and her determination to sculpt Cleopatra forms the story’s spine. Atkins’ compressed verse evokes both the racial realities of the time, including violence, and the artistic process: “Art is made of questions and craft. / What she doesn’t know shapes her work / along with the hope that someone believes / in her.” Atkins describes her process in an author’s note.

A fascinating, tantalizing glimpse. (bibliography) (Verse historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5905-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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