No book can sum up all of the Holocaust, but this graphic novel seems to contain every possible human emotion. Remarkably,...

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HIDDEN

A CHILD'S STORY OF THE HOLOCAUST

The most moving scenes of this graphic novel have no words at all.

Lizano draws people the same way that small children do: a giant oval for the head and two dots for the eyes. But his people always have complicated expressions on their faces. They never show just one emotion. They’re angry and perplexed or cheerful and bemused. (Colorist Salsedo supplies a sad, muted palette that complements the mood perfectly.) When the Nazis force the Jews to wear yellow stars, Dounia’s mother looks frightened and furious and bewildered. Her father looks surprisingly happy. He says, “This morning, I was at a big meeting. Some people suggested that we become a family of sheriffs.” He says it very calmly, and Dounia doesn’t realize for a long time afterward that he was telling a comforting lie. This should be a sad story, but the family lives through the darkest moments of the war with determination and grace and even humor. Dounia doesn’t let her emotions fully register until years later, when she’s telling the story to her granddaughter. On the last pages of the book, in a few quiet, powerful panels, her face shows grief and guilt and fear and resignation.

No book can sum up all of the Holocaust, but this graphic novel seems to contain every possible human emotion. Remarkably, most of the time, it does it with an oval and two dots. (Graphic historical fiction. 6-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59643-873-6

Page Count: 80

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Good fun with a monster of a cliffhanger.

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE SKELETON ROAD

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 6

The monster-fighting gang from Wakefield departs on a post-apocalyptic road trip.

In this sixth installment of the heavily illustrated, Netflix-adapted series, quirky Jack Sullivan and his friends June, Quint, and Dirk finally leave their creature-ridden town in search of the ultimate baddie, Thrull, who previously deceived them. The quartet takes their tricked-out ride (an armored RV named Bad Mama) onto the open road (with Jack’s Zombie Squad in tow) to find the Outpost, where they believe a certain monster will be able to give them the location of the evil Tower where they believe Thrull now resides. Of course, the journey is littered with all kinds of nightmarish beasts and pitfalls (including an epic water park battle and slime-dripping baby monster), but the kids persist, armed with their endless gadgets and quick thinking. As the group races toward Thrull, the action culminates with an achingly tantalizing cliffhanger; expect audible groans and vociferous demands for the next installment. Fans of this series will revel in this fast-paced escapade with its recognizable black-and-white illustrations and trademark humor. Readers new to the series or those who are only familiar with the animated show may be a bit put off by this later volume that relies heavily on its own language of monsters and weapons. Jack, June, and Dirk are light-skinned; Quint is dark-skinned.

Good fun with a monster of a cliffhanger. (Graphic fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984835-34-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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