A worthwhile peek into the world of fairies, with poignant hints of fancy.

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THE CITY ON THE OTHER SIDE

An affluent, sheltered girl embarks on an adventure to bring peace to a realm of fairies besieged by war.

With her emotionally distant mother in Europe, young Isabel travels to the country to spend a lonesome summer with her equally distant artist father, away from “filthy” San Francisco. One fateful night she inadvertently slips through the Veil into the fairy world and acquires a powerful magical necklace. Suddenly, Isabel finds herself in the middle of a war between the Seelie and the Unseelie. With the Unseelie inching closer to total domination, Isabel must return to the fairy side of San Francisco and find the missing Seelie princess while escaping the wrath of the power-hungry Prince Coscar, leader of the Unseelie. Set in the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, the narrative glides at a brisk pace, never veering from its adventure plot. The historical backdrop adds a thin layer of tragedy to the story, but the author leaves this subtext somewhat unexplored in favor of delightful secondary characters. As Isabel clashes with both Seelie and Unseelie fairies, she teams up with a spunky sentient mushroom named Button and Benjie, a Filipino orphan. Featuring a diverse cast of humans (brown-skinned Isabel and her family seem to be Latinx) and fairies, Robinson’s colorful, dynamic artwork crackles with spirited fun and portrays San Francisco and its fairy-realm equivalent in broad, evocative panels. A brief, graphic history of San Francisco follows the story.

A worthwhile peek into the world of fairies, with poignant hints of fancy. (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-15255-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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