Short, gleeful and precise.

One artist’s mild childhood, told in episodic flashes.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a tale of growing up that trades neither in overwhelming nostalgia nor sheer, unmitigated dysfunction, so the publication of this illustrated memoir by Myrick (Bright Elegy, not reviewed) is especially welcome. The artist’s upbringing in a small Missouri town not far from St. Louis is chronicled in self-contained episodes identified by year, beginning in 1961 and ending in 1985. Each chapter is an evocative vignette that could almost stand on its own, and several have a Bradbury-esque glow, while darkness falls over some sections. In “My Father’s Hands,” which begins with the family dressing for court, Myrick’s oldest brother, “head bowed, hippie beard pressed against his chest,” gets a ten-year sentence for bank robbery. The most imaginative of these episodes compares his pregnant mother’s swollen belly to the distended shape of “one dying grandmother bulging with the death growing in her stomach,” then envisions the birth of the artist and his twin: “We enter the world, my brother and I . . . with the circle of life wobbling unsteadily. Attached to a grandmother we will never meet.” Most of these stories began as poems, and their elliptical lilt remains, accentuated by Myrick’s artwork (color by Hilary Sycamore), replete with haunted eyes and giant, toothy smiles. By the end, when his youthful self shakes off the past (“I feel the presence of my local gods waning”) and he heads for California, readers may feel wistful for a childhood they never experienced.

Short, gleeful and precise.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2006

ISBN: 1-59643-110-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006



Visually engaging, but otherwise an utter mess.

An absurdly whimsical graphic novel devised with more style than substance.

The inhabitants of a mysterious unnamed island emerge once again to prevent strangers from infiltrating and to maintain peace on their clandestine homestead. Young Birdy Snodgrass, still grieving over her grandfather’s murder, seeks to find answers. Everyone on the island has a secret, though none prove particularly shocking nor interesting as their past indiscretions come to light. The island shivers with an undercurrent of magic, and its curious rock bugs, little anthropomorphized jumbles of pebbles, may have a connection to the death of Birdy’s grandfather. Her father, however, believes that Birdy’s former nanny is the assailant and plans to see the woman brought to justice. The island’s inhabitants lack direction, and it’s hard to relate to this cacophonous mess of patchwork caricatures seemingly running amok. Lacking any cohesion other than some overarching social commentary against racism, Klein’s latest does little to enliven a bizarre series. Oddly (though not entirely unpleasantly) stylized with bright hues and blocky characters, it looks—and reads—like nonsensical alternative history devised on an acid trip.

Visually engaging, but otherwise an utter mess.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59643-099-0

Page Count: 152

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008



A sparse, beautifully drawn story about a teen discovering her heritage.

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In this YA graphic novel, an alienated Métis girl learns about her people’s Canadian history.

Métis teenager Echo Desjardins finds herself living in a home away from her mother, attending a new school, and feeling completely lonely as a result. She daydreams in class and wanders the halls listening to a playlist of her mother’s old CDs. At home, she shuts herself up in her room. But when her history teacher begins to lecture about the Pemmican Wars of early 1800s Saskatchewan, Echo finds herself swept back to that time. She sees the Métis people following the bison with their mobile hunting camp, turning the animals’ meat into pemmican, which they sell to the Northwest Company in order to buy supplies for the winter. Echo meets a young girl named Marie, who introduces Echo to the rhythms of Métis life. She finally understands what her Métis heritage actually means. But the joys are short-lived, as conflicts between the Métis and their rivals in the Hudson Bay Company come to a bloody head. The tragic history of her people will help explain the difficulties of the Métis in Echo’s own time, including those of her mother and the teen herself. Accompanied by dazzling art by Henderson (A Blanket of Butterflies, 2017, etc.) and colorist Yaciuk (Fire Starters, 2016, etc.), this tale is a brilliant bit of time travel. Readers are swept back to 19th-century Saskatchewan as fully as Echo herself. Vermette’s (The Break, 2017, etc.) dialogue is sparse, offering a mostly visual, deeply contemplative juxtaposition of the present and the past. Echo’s eventual encounter with her mother (whose fate has been kept from readers up to that point) offers a powerful moment of connection that is both unexpected and affecting. “Are you…proud to be Métis?” Echo asks her, forcing her mother to admit, sheepishly: “I don’t really know much about it.” With this series opener, the author provides a bit more insight into what that means.

A sparse, beautifully drawn story about a teen discovering her heritage.

Pub Date: March 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-55379-678-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HighWater Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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