Dynamic and thought-provoking, this foray into the world of African fables and fairy tales is sure to entertain young...

THE GIRL WHO MARRIED A SKULL

AND OTHER AFRICAN STORIES

African tales get makeovers in this eclectic collection of fables in the form of comics.

In Nicole Chartrand’s opening story, a beautiful, vain, and “disobedient daughter” turns out to be clever and independent-minded, escaping from the monster who tricked her into marriage and turning her escape route into a business. A loving brother and sister who have run away from home outsmart cannibals and make off with their riches in Katie and Steven Shanahan’s “Demane and Demezana.” An arrogant young woman fails to impress the chief, while her humble, kind sister earns his offer of marriage, in Sloan Leong’s treatment of a tale from Zimbabwe. Some tales are familiar in form, such as an Anansi tale from Jose Pimienta, a myth called “Why Turtles Live in Water” from Jarrett Williams, and D. Shazzbana Bennett’s “Gratitude” fable, which is reminiscent of “The Lion and the Mouse.” Other stories feature Egyptian gods or science-fiction twists. Each is adapted and illustrated by a different artist, which makes for nice variety even if the different illustration styles and plots seem geared toward slightly different age groups. While the black-and-white drawings are expressive, some seem more like sketches than finished work, and regrettably, one, Mary Cagle’s “The Lion’s Whiskers,” lacks an African aesthetic. Despite these inconsistencies, the collection feels balanced and diverse. Thumbnail bios of each contributor follow along with a few concept drawings.

Dynamic and thought-provoking, this foray into the world of African fables and fairy tales is sure to entertain young readers who welcome both strong messages and open-ended myths. (Graphic folktales. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-945820-24-3

Page Count: 209

Publisher: Iron Circus Comics

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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Formulaic but rousingly gruesome in some spots and thought-provoking in others.

I SURVIVED THE ATTACK OF THE GRIZZLIES, 1967

THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

From the I Survived Graphic Novel series , Vol. 5

A child mourning the loss of her mom “bears” witness to the consequences of strewing the natural landscape with garbage.

In this graphic-novel adaptation of a 2018 entry in Tarshis’ long-running I Survived series—in which invented storylines are layered over historical incidents—it’s 1967, and Mel (Vega in the original, though her last name is never mentioned here) has reluctantly agreed to continue a family tradition in the wake of her mother’s death by visiting her grandpa in Montana’s Glacier National Park. She is terrified when a bear attacks the cabin door one night. Later, she and Cassie, a writer friend of her mom’s, meet up with a researcher whose own father had been bloodily killed in an earlier attack and discover that a local resort has been dumping garbage nearby to draw bears for a nightly show that people, including even park rangers, avidly gather to watch. That evening, in a narrow escape that is also put to use as an opening teaser, Mel herself is savagely wounded. Two deaths that occurred in real life that summer, plus the shooting of the bears involved (talk about blaming the victims!), happen offstage, but the live and dead bears in Pekmezci’s neatly drawn wilderness scenes look feral enough to have readers attending closely to the safety guidelines in the backmatter—and understanding the dangers of letting wild animals become dependent on our detritus. Like others in the series, this one follows a predictable trajectory, but readers should find it absorbing. Mel is brown-skinned, Cassie appears to be Black, and the researcher is light-skinned.

Formulaic but rousingly gruesome in some spots and thought-provoking in others. (afterword, photos, timeline, resource lists) (Graphic novel. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-76691-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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

TYRANNOSAURUS RALPH

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. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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