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LITTLE WITCHES

MAGIC IN CONCORD

Miserably fails both the original Alcott classic and, more importantly, readers.

In this new graphic-novel take on Little Women, the March sisters are witches.

When two witch finders move in next door, the March women initially panic. But writer Augustus Laurence and his grandson, Laurie, say they pose no threat—they pursue only witches of the nefarious brand. Meanwhile, crotchety Aunt March insists on training the youngest sister, Amy, in proper witchcraft as her apprentice in exchange for her financial assistance. Jo is quickly distracted from her jealousy by the handsome, charismatic Laurie. When, as in the original story, Marmee departs Concord to visit their father in a Union hospital, the timing couldn’t be worse. Things begin to mysteriously disappear around town: a bolt of silk, a cow, and eventually an actual girl. The March sisters team up with Laurie to get to the bottom of the strange happenings. The witchcraft element isn’t the only departure from the original. Both Laurie and his grandfather are black, and they are not the only townspeople of color; all the Marches are white, however. This story goes awry when Augustus Laurence, a former slave, tells the girls that the reason Africans are slaves in America is because the plantation owners “use magic to keep the slaves tied to them and the land.” This supernatural revisionist history makes mockery of the factual history of kidnapping, brutality, and violence that kept Africans enslaved.

Miserably fails both the original Alcott classic and, more importantly, readers. (Graphic fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62010-553-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Oni Press

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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DRAMA

Brava!

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 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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SWIM TEAM

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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