Riding the recent wave of interest in graphic nonfiction, this is a fine basic overview of ancient Chinese history and...

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ON THE RUN IN ANCIENT CHINA

From the Time Travel Guides series

In this nonfiction/fiction hybrid graphic novel, the three Binkerton siblings are accidentally sent back in time to the Han dynasty of ancient China by Mr. Pettigrew, owner of the Good Times Travel Agency.

The older two, fraternal twins, just want to get home as soon as possible, but when their little sister disappears, they begin a journey from the countryside to Chang’an, the capital city, to search for her. Luckily, they have with them Julian T. Pettigrew’s Personal Guide to Ancient China, a book within a book that’s excerpted in panels at the bottom of most pages, offering informational text while the kids’ adventures occupy the upper portions. The entire enterprise is lighthearted, with slapstick comedy and tongue-in cheek advice. The guidebook covers broad aspects of China’s history and culture, such as farming, family life, and philosophy, in a few paragraphs each while the madcap plot brings the children into direct contact with the topics discussed in the guide. (As the twins dash through the palace throne room to grab their sister, the guidebook reads, “Hoping to meet the emperor? Forget it!”) Illustrations are appropriately humorous, with a tendency toward caricature, but suit the adventure well. Identified as “barbarians” by the Chinese people they meet, the Binkertons have brown hair and light skin.

Riding the recent wave of interest in graphic nonfiction, this is a fine basic overview of ancient Chinese history and culture for readers who prefer highly illustrated learning . (Graphic novel/nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0152-0

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note)...

REAL FRIENDS

A truth-telling graphic memoir whose theme song could be Johnny Lee’s old country song “Lookin’ for Love in all the Wrong Places.”

Shannon, depicted in Pham’s clear, appealing panels as a redheaded white girl, starts kindergarten in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1979, and her story ends just before sixth grade. Desperately longing to be in “the group” at school, Shannon suffers persistent bullying, particularly from a mean girl, Jenny, which leads to chronic stomachaches, missing school, and doctor visits. Contemporary readers will recognize behaviors indicative of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but the doctor calls it anxiety and tells Shannon to stop worrying. Instead of being a place of solace, home adds to Shannon’s stress. The middle child of five, she suffers abuse from her oldest sibling, Wendy, whom Pham often portrays as a fierce, gigantic bear and whom readers see their mother worrying about from the beginning. The protagonist’s faith (presented as generically Christian) surfaces overtly a few times but mostly seems to provide a moral compass for Shannon as she negotiates these complicated relationships. This episodic story sometimes sticks too close to the truth for comfort, but readers will appreciate Shannon’s fantastic imagination that lightens her tough journey toward courage and self-acceptance.

A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-416-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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