An unforgettable, boundary-busting, falling-over-funny collection that defies the narrow representations English-language...

AKISSI

TALES OF MISCHIEF

Compiled from a bestselling comics franchise in France, this import captures the hilarious misadventures of a township girl as she rewrites the bounds of African girlhood one comical short story at a time.

“Akissi, do you want to look beautiful?” her mother says as Akissi suffers the pain of getting her hair twisted. How does young Akissi respond? “No Mum! I want to be ugly and bald!” This is how the over-the-top story “Lice Games” begins as Akissi searches for a way out of these excruciating hairdo sessions by self-initiating her own head-lice infestation. Such mortifying premises can be found throughout this extended English compilation (containing the same seven stories as the 2013 volume of the same name, plus many more), taken to their unpredictable and uproarious conclusions. The rivalry between Akissi and her older brother, Fofana, takes the spotlight as the source of much ribbing and many pranks. In “Tattle Tattle, Toil and Trouble,” Fofana squeaks out a win (possibly just until their parents find out…), while in “Midnight Pee,” Akissi is able to get one over on him, leaving Fofana with surprise soiled laundry (yeah, it goes there) on an overnight camping trip with their grandparents. French artist Sapin provides the loose, colorful illustrations that accompany Abouet’s tales, which take inspiration from her childhood growing up in the Yopougon neighborhood of Abidjian, Ivory Coast.

An unforgettable, boundary-busting, falling-over-funny collection that defies the narrow representations English-language readers receive of growing African girls—we stand desperately in need of more Akissi and more Abouet. (recipes) (Graphic short stories. 8-14)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911171-47-8

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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Bold and nuanced, this intercultural “cook book” dishes up hearty morsels well worth savoring.

MEASURING UP

An aspiring young chef discovers her innate resourcefulness and the courage of her convictions.

In this contemporary immigrant story, 12-year-old Cici moves from Taiwan to Seattle with her professional parents, who promote a straightforward formula for success: “good grades, good college, good job.” Cici, however, is sad to leave her grandmother and is determined to bring A-má to the United States for her 70th birthday. When a junior cooking contest presents the prospect of funding A-má’s airfare, Cici, an able chef, aims to win and begins making “American” foods. Working with her in-contest partner Miranda, Cici learns to make porcini risotto, not to overcook pasta, and that she is a super taster. This revelation reminds readers of the secret spice mixture that A-má taught Cici when she was little—will it help her win the contest? Similar hints of superhero identity lurk throughout this textured graphic novel filled with heart and humor, centering girls with budding ambitions, subverting tropes, and celebrating everyday heroes—including the librarian who introduces Cici to Julia Child. Word to the wise: Readers should not pick up this book while hungry unless they have treats nearby such as Taiwanese minced pork over rice, or at least a bubble tea to go with that pineapple cake and zucchini chocolate cookie.

Bold and nuanced, this intercultural “cook book” dishes up hearty morsels well worth savoring. (Graphic fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297387-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: HarperAlley

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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