Labored in spots but a promising kickoff carried by atmospheric art and a large, furry cast.

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THE SECRET OF THE WIND

From the Cottons series

Brutal foxes bid to take over a power plant run by meek rabbits in this elaborately envisioned animal fantasy.

In the isolated land of Lavender, magical “cha” refined from carrots not only provides energy, but infuses art objects called “thokchas” with mystical power; it also, at least for the predatory foxes, acts as a hallucinogenic drug. In an effort to enslave the “cottons” that run the cha factory, sly silver fox Sylvan bargains with dark forces to draw the terrifying Broken Feather King down from the celestial Empyrean realm. Meanwhile Bridgebelle, an orphaned cotton who yearns to be an artist, and her increasingly close friend Glee discover that they have a key and a clue that may temporarily derail the vulpine villain’s plots. Pascoe expends little effort fleshing out his characters or their daily lives but positively lavishes attention on catastrophic backstories and on the rites and beliefs of the rabbits’ mystical religion. In shadowy panels (some gory, others awash in murky swirls of evil) punctuated by dazzling bursts of magical lightning, Arnhold depicts mostly realistic animals that are unclothed and, despite some distinguishing features, hard to tell apart. Monochrome pages of explication at the end fill in some gaps; future episodes may fill in more—along with kick-starting a plot that barely gets underway amid all the setup.

Labored in spots but a promising kickoff carried by atmospheric art and a large, furry cast. (map, guide to world and characters) (Graphic animal fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-15744-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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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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