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THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER

A biblio bias-cut whose shimmer is welcome despite its optimistic shortsightedness.

Once upon a time, there was a prince who felt fabulous only in exquisite gowns.

Prince Sebastian’s parents, like fleets of fairy-tale progenitors before, are myopically focused on getting their kid hitched. Rendezvous with potential brides rattle Sebastian, and not just because he’s only 16 and averse to icky matrimony. It’s because he dresses in couture gowns and is petrified of facing what a reveal would mean to his parents and potential wife. Weary of donning his mother’s duds, he hires Frances, a seamstress with an avant-garde flair. Their friendship quickly evolves as she harnesses her talent and he becomes empowered to make public appearances as his alter ego, Lady Crystallia. When Lady Crystallia becomes a fashion plate du jour—and secrecy verges on revelation—Sebastian and Frances are at a crossroads: can they remain true to themselves, each other, and the world? Wang’s linework has as much movement and play as Crystallia’s frocks, and her palette seamlessly wanders from petit-four brights to the moody darks of an ombre swatch. This is preindustrial Paris, so the cast is white, with the only otherness being class differentiation. Sebastian’s story shouldn’t be taken as a testament to how easy it is for one to reveal one’s true self to one’s parents, particularly if one is LGBTQIAP: Sebastian meets acceptance far too easily, particularly for such a public figure in such a conservative age. Sebastian’s summation of Frances’ aesthetic underscores the ultimate blueprint: fantasy and drama.

A biblio bias-cut whose shimmer is welcome despite its optimistic shortsightedness. (Historical graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-363-4

Page Count: 290

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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THE FAINT OF HEART

A fast-paced dip into the possibility of a world without human emotions.

A teenage girl refuses a medical procedure to remove her heart and her emotions.

June lives in a future in which a reclusive Scientist has pioneered a procedure to remove hearts, thus eliminating all “sadness, anxiety, and anger.” The downside is that it numbs pleasurable feelings, too. Most people around June have had the procedure done; for young people, in part because doing so helps them become more focused and successful. Before long, June is the only one among her peers who still has her heart. When her parents decide it’s time for her to have the procedure so she can become more focused in school, June hatches a plan to pretend to go through with it. She also investigates a way to restore her beloved sister’s heart, joining forces with Max, a classmate who’s also researching the Scientist because he has started to feel again despite having had his heart removed. The pair’s journey is somewhat rushed and improbable, as is the resolution they achieve. However, the story’s message feels relevant and relatable to teens, and the artwork effectively sets the scene, with bursts of color popping throughout an otherwise black-and-white landscape, reflecting the monochromatic, heartless reality of June’s world. There are no ethnic or cultural markers in the text; June has paper-white skin and dark hair, and Max has dark skin and curly black hair.

A fast-paced dip into the possibility of a world without human emotions. (Graphic speculative fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 13, 2023

ISBN: 9780063116214

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

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ALWAYS HUMAN

A warm, sweet, lovely tale of a world readers will want to live in.

In a not-so-distant future where changing one’s physical features is as easy as purchasing nanobot mods, Sunati falls for Austen, a girl who always looks the same.

Since Austen never changes, Sunati admires what she assumes is her bravery and confidence. As Sunati and Austen chat more, Austen bluntly asks Sunati if she only wants to get to know her more because of her medical condition, which prevents her from using mods. As they gradually grow closer, Sunati learns how to interact more respectfully with those who have overactive immune systems as well as to share her feelings more honestly. Austen, in turn, learns to trust Sunati. This beautifully illustrated slice-of-life tale that shows two young women of color getting to know each other and creating a relationship is so warm and charming that readers will hardly notice how much they are learning about how to better interact with folx who are different from themselves and the importance of not making assumptions. The story also successfully weaves in agender, genderfluid, and asexual characters as well as the subjects of parenting and colorism into the natural arc of Sunati and Austen’s developing story. The soft, romantic artwork evokes hazy watercolors. The speech bubbles are predominantly pink and blue, and the varied layout will maintain readers’ interest.

A warm, sweet, lovely tale of a world readers will want to live in. (Graphic romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1110-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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