For those willing to immerse themselves in a sad, harrowing story, this is a worthwhile and affecting odyssey.

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LOVE, ISH

Ish, who is determined to be among the first settlers on Mars, goes on a different and unexpected journey after she is diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

She’s prone to long stream-of-consciousness monologues anyway, but after discovery of the tumor that she imagines as a sort of Brussels sprout and starting on chemotherapy and radiation treatments, many of her dreams (and nightmares) focus on her imagined life in a Mars colony. Ish’s only friend, Tig, who moved away a year ago, has never once contacted her since he left. Now she’s a loner, getting along well enough with her adoptive parents but navigating an unpredictable relationship with her next oldest, rather prickly sister, leaving Ish mostly to her own resources to cope with her deteriorating new existence. With many characters, especially resilient, plucky 13-year-old white Ish, broadly painted yet fully realized, this moving tale is nothing short of tragic. Although Ish’s discoveries about friendship, love and life are ultimately uplifting, Rivers (The Girl in the Well is Me, 2016) pulls no punches with the outcome. Ish’s struggles with treatment are vivid, and with the focus solidly on the dying girl, there’s little room for distracting hopefulness.

For those willing to immerse themselves in a sad, harrowing story, this is a worthwhile and affecting odyssey. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61620-570-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

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NEW KID

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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