Alas, nary a zombie in sight—but budding “braaaiiinnns” may be tempted to repeat some of the experiments for themselves.

READ REVIEW

IN SEARCH OF THE FOG ZOMBIE

A MYSTERY ABOUT MATTER

From the Summer Camp Science Mysteries series , Vol. 1

Following cryptic clues left by a counselor, a quartet of young campers track down the source of mysterious noises in this science-laden series kickoff.

The instruction begins before the story does, with a disquisition on the nature and states of matter, and continues after the denouement with a pair of experiments and a page of explanations. In between, 9-year-old twins Angie and Alex settle in at Camp Dakota, where they’re treated to successive scientific demonstrations. These include: air pressure in action, with an overturned glass in a bowl of water; comparative density, with eggs in fresh and salt water; and heat-related expansion and contraction with a suspended weight. They’re also treated to eerie nighttime moans ascribed to a local zombie that turn out to have a natural cause. Helmer places a multicultural cast with oversized, rolling-flashlight eyes in neatly drawn sequential panels—between which Beauregard occasionally shoehorns further science facts—and tries to crank up the suspense with lots of atmospheric fog and night scenes. The fictional plot is really just a vehicle, and if the science is largely extraneous and sometimes simplistic (gravity doesn’t just pull objects “toward Earth’s surface”), at least there’s plenty of it. The load-out continues in #2, The Nighttime Cabin Thief: A Mystery About Light, and two more Summer Camp Science Mysteries.

Alas, nary a zombie in sight—but budding “braaaiiinnns” may be tempted to repeat some of the experiments for themselves. (further experiments, glossary, scientific principles) (Graphic fiction/instructional blend. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8544-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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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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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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