Informative, exciting, and, unlike sharks, just a bit disappointing.

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SHARKS

NATURE'S PERFECT HUNTER

From the Science Comics series

Glimpses of historic and contemporary sharks help to stem the tide of misinformation.

Looking at the world of sharks from its very earliest moments around 420 million years ago and from every conceivable angle, this entry in the Science Comics series unspools a fascinating history and jeopardized future for this oft-misunderstood predator. Profiles of individual shark species and shark ancestors intertwine with energetically illustrated facts about different types of sharks, their anatomy, their role in the environment, and more and aim not only to correct typical misinformation, but to make a case for these endangered creatures’ continued survival. The effect is hampered somewhat by a few missteps in execution: Interesting digressions nonetheless feel like disorganization in layout, and there are some confusing inconsistencies in the text—"sharks are perfectly harmless to humans if left alone” and “what makes the great white truly terrifying is the shark’s tendency to mistake humans for its own prey” are two claims that are difficult to reconcile even if they are both accurate. Also, despite the other visual and informational riches about sharks’ vibrant world and how important their survival is to humans’, young shark enthusiasts of color will unfortunately not find themselves reflected in any meaningful roles here.

Informative, exciting, and, unlike sharks, just a bit disappointing. (foreword, partial glossary) (Graphic nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-787-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note)...

REAL FRIENDS

A truth-telling graphic memoir whose theme song could be Johnny Lee’s old country song “Lookin’ for Love in all the Wrong Places.”

Shannon, depicted in Pham’s clear, appealing panels as a redheaded white girl, starts kindergarten in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1979, and her story ends just before sixth grade. Desperately longing to be in “the group” at school, Shannon suffers persistent bullying, particularly from a mean girl, Jenny, which leads to chronic stomachaches, missing school, and doctor visits. Contemporary readers will recognize behaviors indicative of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but the doctor calls it anxiety and tells Shannon to stop worrying. Instead of being a place of solace, home adds to Shannon’s stress. The middle child of five, she suffers abuse from her oldest sibling, Wendy, whom Pham often portrays as a fierce, gigantic bear and whom readers see their mother worrying about from the beginning. The protagonist’s faith (presented as generically Christian) surfaces overtly a few times but mostly seems to provide a moral compass for Shannon as she negotiates these complicated relationships. This episodic story sometimes sticks too close to the truth for comfort, but readers will appreciate Shannon’s fantastic imagination that lightens her tough journey toward courage and self-acceptance.

A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-416-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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