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

READ REVIEW

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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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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The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing.

SUNNY ROLLS THE DICE

From the Sunny series , Vol. 3

Sunny, in seventh grade, finds her score on the Groovy Meter taking some wild swings as her friends’ interests move in different directions.

In a motif that haunts her throughout, Sunny succumbs to a teen magazine’s personality quiz and sees her tally seesaw radically. Her BF Deb has suddenly switched focus to boys, clothes, and bands such as the Bee Gees (this is 1977)—dismissing trick-or-treating and wearing galoshes on rainy days as “babyish.” Meanwhile, Sunny takes delight in joining nerdy neighbors Lev, Brian, and Arun in regular sessions of Dungeons and Dragons (as a fighter character, so cool). The storytelling is predominantly visual in this episodic outing, with just occasional snatches of dialogue and pithy labels to fill in details or mark the passage of time; frequent reaction shots deftly capture Sunny’s feelings of being pulled this way and that. Tellingly, in the Holms’ panels (colored by Pien), Sunny’s depicted as significantly smaller than Deb, visually underscoring her developmental awkwardness. Deb’s comment that “we’re too old to be playing games like that” leads Sunny to drop out of the D&D circle and even go to the school’s staggeringly dull spring dance. Sunny’s mostly white circle of peers expands and becomes more diverse as she continues to navigate her way through the dark chambers and misty passages of early adolescence. Lev is an Orthodox Jew, Arun is South Asian, and Regina, another female friend, has brown skin.

The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing. (Graphic historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-23314-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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