Captivated kids will be happy to see that Book 3 is on its way.

READ REVIEW

THE STONE COLD AGE

From the Lucy & Andy Neanderthal series , Vol. 2

Neanderthal siblings return for a blustery infoventure in the Ice Age.

Lucy and Andy meet and welcome into their cave an extended, racially diverse family of humans. Andy is less than enthusiastic about the arrangement, but Lucy is glad to have Sasha, a little black girl, and the others to pal around with. Between hunts for food, the adults search for a nearby cave for the humans to move into. The kids play in the snow, do chores, visit a glacier, and visit the Neanderthal family’s summer cave at the beach. Can the families outsmart cave bear Big Bob and appropriate his cave for the humans, or will they live together forever? Modern-day fictional commentators Pam (a white woman) and Eric (a black man) return as well to explain (usually with jokes) and expand on the actual science and discoveries behind the events in Lucy and Andy’s comic-strip adventures. Science-y tidbits dot the narrative panels (usually followed by sarcastic one-liners), and the whole is followed by a museum list, a Q-and-A, and myth-busters about cavemen, all conveyed in a light tone. No further reading or works cited make this problematic as an informational source, but for the paleontologically inclined, it’s a fast, funny read with likable kid characters.

Captivated kids will be happy to see that Book 3 is on its way. (Graphic historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-38838-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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A solid, not particularly daring addition to the hybrid format for middle-grade readers, mixing drama with heart.

POSITIVELY IZZY

This reader-friendly graphic/prose hybrid explores the lives of two very different girls who have an unexpected connection.

Izzy and Brianna both, separately, navigate difficult middle school experiences. Brianna, whose story is told entirely in sequential panels, is studious, reserved, and a little lonely. Izzy, who tells her story in paragraphs broken up by illustrations, is an unreliable middle sister with a love for performance and a lot of indifference toward schoolwork. Izzy sneaks out against her mother’s wishes to perform in the school talent show, while Bri’s mother (also a teacher at her school) convinces her to fill in for a sick actor. Both girls juggle complex family dynamics, shifting friend groups, and boys in the hours leading up to their performances. The story is light but resonant for middle graders, with constant comedic asides in the illustrations. Both girls appear white (based on the color cover), with multiracial supporting casts, and both threads of the story skirt larger issues. The opening pages, in which Bri complains about labels, hint at a larger theme that recedes into the background as the two girls struggle with their interpersonal relationships. Readers primed by the back-cover blurb will spend the whole book waiting for the two stories to intersect, with a surprise reveal at the end that may call for an immediate reread.

A solid, not particularly daring addition to the hybrid format for middle-grade readers, mixing drama with heart. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-248497-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Kibuishi gives his epic tale a hefty nudge toward its long-building climax while giving readers plenty of reasons to stick...

SUPERNOVA

From the Amulet series , Vol. 8

Stonekeeper Emily frees the elves from their monstrous masked ruler and sets out to rejoin her brother and mother in the series’ penultimate episode.

The multistranded storyline picks up with Emily’s return to the world of Alledia. Now a fiery, destructive phoenix struggling to regain control of her actions, Emily goes on to follow her brother Navin and allies as they battle invading shadows on the nearby world of Typhon, then switches back to human form for a climactic confrontation with the Elf King—in the course of which Emily rips off his mask to a chorus of “ERGH!! NO!!! GRAH! RRGH!! AAAGH!” to expose a rousingly hideous face. Cute animal heads on many figures (the result of a curse) and a scene with benevolent-looking trees provide at least a bit of relief from the grim expressions that all the human and humanoid elven characters almost invariably wear. But along with emphatic sound effects, the battle and action scenes in the cleanly drawn, if sometimes cramped, panels feature huge blasts of fire or energy, intricately detailed giant robots, weirdly eyeless monsters, and wild escapades aplenty to keep the pace’s pedal to the metal. Aliens and AIs in the cast come in a variety of hues, elves are a uniform gray, and except for a brief encounter between Emily and a slightly darker lad, the (uncursed) humans default to white.

Kibuishi gives his epic tale a hefty nudge toward its long-building climax while giving readers plenty of reasons to stick around for it. (Graphic fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-545-85002-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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