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FITZ AND CLEO by Jonathan Stutzman


From the Fitz and Cleo series, volume 1

by Jonathan Stutzman ; illustrated by Heather Fox

Pub Date: May 4th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-250-23944-0
Publisher: Henry Holt

Ghost siblings ghoul it up in a new graphic-novel series.

A “THUMP” from the attic sends siblings Fitz and Cleo up to investigate. The spooky vibes delight Cleo, so she improvises “The Spooky Attic Song.” Fitz tries to shush his sister so they can maintain “the element of surprise” as they approach the sound’s source. The mystery is solved: It’s a cat! Cleo promptly scoops the (seemingly mortal) cat up and names him Mister Boo. Fitz has reservations but relents when Mister Boo sits on his head. Ten subsequent chapters, varying between four and seven pages in length, chronicle the trio’s further shenanigans. Husband-and-wife team Stutzman and Fox create an entertaining early graphic novel in the vein of Ben Clanton’s Narwhal and Jelly series. Though there are occasional speech bubbles, dialogue is most often connected to the speaker by a solid black line. Sentences are short, and there are at most two speakers per panel. Additionally, with no more than six panels per page and simple backgrounds, the story provides adequate support to emerging readers. Fox’s expressive illustrations and clever use of panel layouts effectively build off the humor in Stutzman’s text. Cleo is depicted with a purple bow; Fitz with a baseball cap and glasses. Unfortunately, their personalities as well as their appearances play into gender stereotypes.

Cute as a boo-ton—if a tad stereotypical.

(Graphic fantasy. 6-10)