From the Cautionary Fables & Fairytales series , Vol. 4

An enthralling, spooky, diverse collection of Oceanian legends in comic form.

Seventeen traditional Oceanian tales are reimagined in this graphic anthology.

Iole Marie Rabor opens the volume with a Filipino story centered around the consequences of ignoring the tradition of “Tabi po,” or politely excusing yourself in order to show respect to the spirits and supernatural beings. DJ Keawekane and Kel McDonald tell the Hawaiian legend of the intense Papa Holua sledding race and resulting rivalry between Pele, goddess of fire, and Poliahu, goddess of snow. Even after hearing the warnings about not looking at the spirits of the honored dead, a child goes out in search of her father’s ghost, who is said to be among their number in Jonah Cabudol-Chalker and Kate Ashwin’s “The Night Marchers.” Paolo Chikiamco and Tintin Pantoja add a science-fiction twist to the Filipino folktale about the pineapple fruit’s origin in “Thousand Eyes.” The remaining stories are from Hawaii and the Philippines, with one from Fiji, but there is no representation of other Pacific Islander groups. Nevertheless, this is a captivating and important collection. All the artwork is black and white, and with a wide variety of artistic styles, each story has its own feel, providing a varied and enriching reading experience. The contributors are primarily Filipino and Pacific Islander creators.

An enthralling, spooky, diverse collection of Oceanian legends in comic form. (about the artists) (Graphic folklore. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-945820-79-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Iron Circus Comics

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021


An emotional, much-needed historical graphic novel.

Sandy and his family, Japanese Canadians, experience hatred and incarceration during World War II.

Sandy Saito loves baseball, and the Vancouver Asahi ballplayers are his heroes. But when they lose in the 1941 semifinals, Sandy’s dad calls it a bad omen. Sure enough, in December 1941, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor in the U.S. The Canadian government begins to ban Japanese people from certain areas, moving them to “dormitories” and setting a curfew. Sandy wants to spend time with his father, but as a doctor, his dad is busy, often sneaking out past curfew to work. One night Papa is taken to “where he [is] needed most,” and the family is forced into an internment camp. Life at the camp isn’t easy, and even with some of the Asahi players playing ball there, it just isn’t the same. Trying to understand and find joy again, Sandy struggles with his new reality and relationship with his father. Based on the true experiences of Japanese Canadians and the Vancouver Asahi team, this graphic novel is a glimpse of how their lives were affected by WWII. The end is a bit abrupt, but it’s still an inspiring and sweet look at how baseball helped them through hardship. The illustrations are all in a sepia tone, giving it an antique look and conveying the emotions and struggles. None of the illustrations of their experiences are overly graphic, making it a good introduction to this upsetting topic for middle-grade readers.

An emotional, much-needed historical graphic novel. (afterword, further resources) (Graphic historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0334-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021


Problem-solving through perseverance and friendship is the real win in this deeply smart and inspiring story.

Leaving Brooklyn behind, Black math-whiz and puzzle lover Bree starts a new life in Florida, where she’ll be tossed into the deep end in more ways than one. Keeping her head above water may be the trickiest puzzle yet.

While her dad is busy working and training in IT, Bree struggles at first to settle into Enith Brigitha Middle School, largely due to the school’s preoccupation with swimming—from the accomplishments of its namesake, a Black Olympian from Curaçao, to its near victory at the state swimming championships. But Bree can’t swim. To illustrate her anxiety around this fact, the graphic novel’s bright colors give way to gray thought bubbles with thick, darkened outlines expressing Bree’s deepest fears and doubts. This poignant visual crowds some panels just as anxious feelings can crowd the thoughts of otherwise star students like Bree. Ultimately, learning to swim turns out to be easy enough with the help of a kind older neighbor—a Black woman with a competitive swimming past of her own as well as a rich and bittersweet understanding of Black Americans’ relationship with swimming—who explains to Bree how racist obstacles of the past can become collective anxiety in the present. To her surprise, Bree, with her newfound water skills, eventually finds herself on the school’s swim team, navigating competition, her anxiety, and new, meaningful relationships.

Problem-solving through perseverance and friendship is the real win in this deeply smart and inspiring story. (Graphic fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-305677-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperAlley

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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