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Superb. (Graphic short-story anthology. 7-12)

An outstanding out-of-the box anthology from renowned comics veteran Kibuishi.

Kibuishi’s Flight series for adults (collected in Flight, 2011), spurred a spin-off, Flight Explorer (2008), a volume specifically written for a younger audience. Both anthologies were strong on art but held no cohesive theme; this volume preserves the strong artistic stylization of its predecessors, but also employs a unifying theme—"what’s in the box"—throughout the slick and imaginative collection. The seven tales, from artists both established and up-and-coming, span the spectrum from a serious and moralistic tale of war and vengeance in “The Soldier’s Daughter” to seriously silly and fun alien hijinks in "Whatzit" to a dark and creepy yarn about doll that comes alive with a sinister purpose in "Under the Floorboards" to the light and sweet "Spring Cleaning," replete with wizards and reunited love. This volume eloquently demonstrates how well short stories work in the comics medium and Kibuishi's masterful chops as an editor. By cleverly applying the thematic catalyst to an already-winning formula, Kibuishi deftly fends off staleness. With eye-popping full-color art and palettes ranging from candy-colored to ethereal earth tones, this is both a visual feast for the eyes and a healthy helping of thought for the soul.

Superb. (Graphic short-story anthology. 7-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0010-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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Readers in search of unalloyed wish fulfillment thickly layered with melodramatic posturing and gore-free, comics-style...

A bullying victim saves Earth after his brain is transferred into the body of a T. Rex.

Stomped flat by a huge green foot in the wake of a humiliating encounter with aptly named white classmate Melvin Goonowitz, Ralph, a nerdy boy with light-brown skin, wakes to discover that thanks to local handyman/superscientist Professor Overdrive, he’s not dead but inhabiting a toothy, if tiny-armed, dinosaur brought from the distant past. Why? Because Earth is commanded to send a champion to join 10,000 other gladiators in the interstellar Coliseum of Crunch to fight one another for the continued existence of their planets. Next to the wildly diverse array of glowering, garishly hued, mightily thewed aliens filling the graphic panels, Ralph looks like Barney’s little green brother—but with pluck and luck he not only bumbles his way to an epic win, he rescues a blue-skinned new friend from a sexual predator. Back to Earth in triumph he goes to scare Goonowitz into peeing his pants, then switch into a boy again (in a cloned bod courtesy of Professor Overdrive) with an ongoing new mission to protect little guys from getting picked on. A note about real gladiators of the ancient Roman sort is tacked on at the end.

Readers in search of unalloyed wish fulfillment thickly layered with melodramatic posturing and gore-free, comics-style violence need look no further. (Graphic fantasy/science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4494-7208-5

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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Even people who’ve read countless folktales will find something new and surprising in this collection, and they may discover...

It’s easy to forget how often folktales make no sense at all.

In the 10 myths and fairy tales adapted in this graphic novel, a boy hatches out of a peach, a hairbrush transforms into a mountain, and a polar bear grows a coat of feathers. The surreal images suit Phillips perfectly. He’s especially good at drawing the hawks made of ice who appear in “Thor and the Frost Giants.” Unless readers are experts on folklore, they may not be certain if the creatures were borrowed from the original stories or invented for the book. His sense of composition may remind some people of the legendary P. Craig Russell, with its use of open space and vivid, graduated colors. (The blue skies are particularly lovely.) But the character designs are odder and more abstract than Russell’s, and every story is drawn in its own style. The ogres in the Japanese story of “Momotaro,” fittingly enough, resemble the monsters in classic Japanese prints. (Outside of “Momotaro,” the stories’ primary human characters are generally white.) The visual storytelling, however, is sometimes confusing, and a few panels are poorly placed, throwing off the pacing.

Even people who’ve read countless folktales will find something new and surprising in this collection, and they may discover that the stories are even stranger than they remembered. (Graphic folklore. 7-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-76011-326-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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