NIGHTLIGHTS

When a young girl’s imagination and creativity are co-opted by a mysterious new friend, she must find a way to regain what is rightfully hers.

Sandy is a brown-skinned, dark-haired girl with big black eyes and a vivid imagination. At night, as she goes to sleep, she catches the lights bobbing about in her room and turns them into anything she imagines. The next day is spent drawing the fantastical creatures from her dreams, much to the detriment of her schoolwork. When a tall, pale-skinned girl with purple hair befriends her, Sandy is excited, though there is something eerie and unsettling about her new companion. Her excitement soon turns to anger as Morfie enters her imaginative nighttime world and tries to take it over. Readers will cheer at the clever way in which Sandy regains control. Using a lovely palette that includes a liberal amount of rich, dark purple, Colombian-born Alvarez has drawn a world that harks back to her native Bogotá and days in Catholic school, evoking it in wonderful detail and atmosphere. Her pages are not crowded yet are filled with details that will engage readers. The beings that inhabit Sandy’s nighttime world are simply delightful. The album size, cloth spine binding, and spot gloss on the cover are the icing on the cake of this beautiful graphic novel.

A winner. (Graphic fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-910620-13-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more.

LONG DISTANCE

After moving to a new city, a girl attends a wilderness camp to help her make new friends.

When astronomy-obsessed 9-year-old Vega’s dad Wes gets a new job, the family moves from Portland to Seattle. Vega is not happy about this change and doesn’t want to leave her best friend behind, worrying they will grow apart. Vega’s dad Javi thinks making new friends will help her adjust, so he signs her up for Camp Very Best Friend, which is designed to help introverted local children build new friendships. Vega is not exactly eager to go but makes a deal with Wes, agreeing to try out camp as long as he tries to make a new friend too. It quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary outdoor adventure, and Vega and her fellow campers try to figure out what is really going on. The story smoothly incorporates STEM facts with insets on the page to define and highlight terms or tools. An unexpected twist toward the end of this fast-paced adventure that reveals the truth behind the camp will surprise readers. The clean, bright artwork is enhanced by panels of varying shapes and clear, easy-to-follow speech bubbles. Race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are not explicitly addressed; characters’ names and physical appearances indicate a broadly diverse cast starting with brown-skinned Vega and her two dads.

A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more. (Graphic fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5566-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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