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

EXPLORER

THE MYSTERY BOXES

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. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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A fun and fast-moving adventure giddy with ideas.

CALEY CROSS AND THE HADEON DROP

This debut middle-grade fantasy sees a neglected orphan returning to the magical kingdom of her birth to face a rising evil.

Thirteen-year-old Caley Cross is the oldest child at the Gunch Home for Wayward Waifs, where she is worked like a slave and kept starved and impoverished. Caley gets on with her life as best she can, but if ever her anger is roused, she dies. Her deaths are only temporary—she revives shortly afterward—but they are linked to an innate power that causes dead animals to come alive. One day, Caley’s resurrections bring her to the attention of a metal-winged crow, whereupon she is rescued from the orphanage and taken to Erinath, a realm beyond Earth. Caley, it transpires, is the lost daughter of Queen Catherine, who disappeared shortly after the girl was born and is thought to have been killed by the nefarious Olpheist. Returned to Castle Erinath (which grows like a tree and often shifts its rooms about), Caley must adjust to her royal status—and to the relentless enmity of Ithica Blight, the vain and petty princess she’s supplanted as next in line to the throne. Ithica’s cruelties aside, there is trouble brewing in the kingdom. Castle Erinath is sickening and Olpheist is rumored to have broken free of his prison. Can Caley and her new friends sort truth from lies and keep him from laying hands on the Hadeon Drop, the ultimate source of creation and destruction? In this wildly imaginative series opener, Rosen’s storytelling overflows with creative fancy, so much so that the strong Harry Potter resonances (cruelly treated chosen one, boarding school social dynamic, Quidditch-like Equidium teams) become an unfortunate distraction from the boundless parade of whimsical characters and fantastical new material. Caley’s adventure begins in a breathless rush before settling down and building steadily to a somewhat abrupt end (and the promise of a sequel). The author’s prose is easy to read, with clear descriptions, age-appropriate dialogue, and plenty of humor. While Ithica is over-the-top and Caley and Olpheist are little distinguished from default heroes and villains, all the other characters ooze originality. All told, young readers will thrill at the sparkle of enchantment.

A fun and fast-moving adventure giddy with ideas.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68463-053-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A highflying mythological memoir alight with joie de vivre.

I AM HERMES!

Gerstein follows up I Am Pan! (2016) with an account of the pranks and exploits of the goat-footed god’s equally free-spirited father.

Bursting with self-confidence, golden from helmet to winged sandals, and, on the cover at least, sprayed with sparkles, Hermes literally outshines a multihued, caricatured supporting cast of gods, demigods, mortals, and monsters parading through the loosely drawn sequential panels. The boasting begins with his birth, first word (“GIMME!”), and—still but 1 day old—invention of the lyre from a tortoise shell and theft of Apollo’s cattle by turning their hooves around so they can’t be tracked. Charming his way out of punishment (and leaving Apollo happily strumming a cowboy song on the lyre), he goes on as messenger of the gods to hoodwink the nasty twin giants Otus and Ephialtes, become a father and a grandfather, rescue Hera’s friend Io from the monster Argus (a knobbly, pitch-black boojum studded with eyes), bestow on Aesop the art of telling fables, and, as the other gods fade into retirement, ultimately find a bright new outlet for his particular talents: “The Internet!” It’s a selective account, with all of Hermes’ amorous adventures except the wooing of Penelopeta (Pan’s mom) skipped over and the violence of the author’s classical source material dialed down enough to, for instance, leave Argus alive and the giants not slaughtered but tricked into a permanent bout of arm-wrestling. Admitting in a closing note to a bit of embellishment (no kidding), Gerstein caps this rollicking revel with a short but scholarly resource list.

A highflying mythological memoir alight with joie de vivre. (Mythology. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3942-3

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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