A muddled middle for a lagomorphic trilogy mired in gloom and doom.

READ REVIEW

THE WHITE CARROT

From the Cottons series , Vol. 2

Artist/magician Bridgebelle makes a dangerous bargain in hopes of saving her rabbit community from scheming foxes and supernatural threats.

Having set up a complex backstory and elaborately detailed animal societies in the opener, Secret of the Wind (2018), summarized here in a prose lead-in, the author more or less marks time in this follow-up with a fragmentary, disconnected set of events. When her first megathokcha, a magical talisman made from carrot extract, is stolen, Bridgebelle promises to make another for vengeful fox Hollow even as the religious authorities, or Windist Curatus, in her own settlement drive her away with a decree that all thokchas should be destroyed. Meanwhile, her friend Glee’s attempt to transport another megathokcha known as the Black Sun to the isolated Vale of the Clouds for safety falls afoul of trickster fox Sylvan’s nihilist scheme to summon the malign Broken Feather King from the land of the dead. If the many quick cuts, flashbacks, and scene shifts don’t leave readers bewildered, the cast of lookalike rabbits and foxes should do the trick—Arnhold’s efforts to individualize her naturalistically drawn and colored creatures with occasional accessories and subtle variations in facial features notwithstanding. In the end Bridgebelle is left holding a legendary white carrot that may free either her or her furry folk but not both. Stay tuned.

A muddled middle for a lagomorphic trilogy mired in gloom and doom. (Graphic fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-061-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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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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