Indiana Jones meets Mad Max in a whirlwind as exciting for teens as it is for middle-grade readers.

CLEM HETHERINGTON AND THE IRONWOOD RACE

From the Clem Hetherington series , Vol. 1

Young archaeologists Clem and her android brother enter a dangerous race to find priceless artifacts.

Fourteen-year-old Clementine Hetherington wants desperately to break into the archaeology field. Not only because she is struggling to find food for herself and “spark” for her android younger brother, Digory, but also to continue their family’s legacy after the mysterious deaths of both their parents. When the academy proves unwilling to admit Clem and Dig because they are too young, the siblings are left with frighteningly few options until a nefarious ex-friend, Alistair Kilburn, tells them about the Ironwood Race. Combining desert motor racing and archaeological excavation, the Ironwood is a multi-leg race to find four priceless artifacts, which will go to the victorious team, but for Clem and Dig it also means unearthing treachery as well as treasures. Breach and Holgate have delivered an impossibly energetic graphic novel with action that leaves many a panel in a cloud of dust. A tight narrative arc allows the pacing to shift intensity in all the right places, although it also means many things are left unexplored, such as characters’ racial backgrounds (Clem is brown-skinned), Digory’s sentience, or the Earth-like but ET–populated and futuristic setting. Archaeology purists may balk a bit, but fun and peril outshine inaccuracies here. The older protagonist and teen-oriented emotional turmoil are balanced by the delightful, adrenaline-charged incongruity of high-stakes excavation and absolutely-no-rules racing for a fairly broad audience.

Indiana Jones meets Mad Max in a whirlwind as exciting for teens as it is for middle-grade readers. (Graphic science fiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-545-81445-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

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NEW KID

From the New Kid series , Vol. 1

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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