More “teen drama” than “super,” this is an interesting choice for those looking for more than the usual hero fare.

READ REVIEW

SUPERGIRL

BEING SUPER

Kara Danvers’ bad day begins when she pops a zit.

As origin stories go, Tamaki (The Moon Is Up, 2018, etc.) focuses on Kara the teenager over all else. Having arrived on Earth as a young child, she endures bad dreams and has no idea that she’s an alien. Blonde, blue-eyed Kara has just turned 16, and her odd abilities are glitching. At a track meet, an earthquake takes the lives of several people, including one of Kara’s best friends, who slips out of her grasp. Later, when responding to a mysterious cry for help, she discovers not only the reason for her malfunctioning strength and the quake, but a dark-haired, olive-skinned man strapped to a table who speaks a language that she has only heard in her head and who has the answers to her questions about where she is from. His escape from the facility, however, causes problems that Kara could have anticipated if she was not so busy giggling at his face and admiring his abs. Superpowers are sidelined by the drama of fitting in, keeping secrets, and dealing with grief. Of her small circle of friends, the brown-skinned lesbian Dolly has enough sass to power Kara through everyday interactions as well as the weightier theme of the death of a loved one.

More “teen drama” than “super,” this is an interesting choice for those looking for more than the usual hero fare. (Graphic novel. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4012-6894-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: DC Comics

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A must-read graphic novel that is both heart-rending and beautifully hopeful.

WHITE BIRD

A WONDER STORY

A grandmother shares her story of survival as a Jew in France during World War II.

As part of a homework assignment, Julian (Auggie’s chief tormentor in Wonder, 2012) video chats with Grandmère, who finally relates her wartime story. Born Sara Blum to a comfortable French Jewish family, she is indulged by her parents, who remain in Vichy France after 1940. Then, in 1943, after the German occupation, soldiers come to Sara’s school to arrest her and the other Jewish students. Sara hides and is soon spirited away by “Tourteau,” a student that she and the others had teased because of his crablike, crutch-assisted walk after being stricken by polio. Nonetheless, Tourteau, whose real name is Julien, and his parents shelter Sara in their barn loft for the duration of the war, often at great peril but always with care and love. Palacio begins each part of her story with quotations: from Muriel Rukeyser’s poetry, Anne Frank, and George Santayana. Her digital drawings, inked by Czap, highlight facial close-ups that brilliantly depict emotions. The narrative thread, inspired by Palacio’s mother-in-law, is spellbinding. In the final pages, the titular bird, seen in previous illustrations, soars skyward and connects readers to today’s immigration tragedies. Extensive backmatter, including an afterword by Ruth Franklin, provides superb resources. Although the book is being marketed as middle-grade, the complexities of the Holocaust in Vichy France, the growing relationship between Sara and Julien, Julien’s fate, and the mutual mistrust among neighbors will be most readily appreciated by Wonder’s older graduates.

A must-read graphic novel that is both heart-rending and beautifully hopeful. (author’s note, glossary, suggested reading list, organizations and resources, bibliography, photographs) (Graphic historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-64553-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Lacking in character development and depth.

THE RED ZONE

AN EARTHQUAKE STORY

When people in a small Italian town lose everything in an earthquake, its youth must find a way to heal.

The 2016 earthquake in central Italy offers a backdrop for this graphic novel. Matteo; his girlfriend, Giulia; and their school friends are frightened: Their world has been destroyed, and they feel aftershocks daily. Many of their neighbors have moved away, but Matteo’s mother and stepfather work in the village, and they must stay. Matteo is luckier than most—his father brings them an old camper trailer so they can leave emergency housing. But tensions run high for others, and problems began to arise. Matteo’s friend seeks his lost dog in the forbidden zone. His little sister has trouble sleeping, and someone at their school commits vandalism. Matteo and Giulia set off to find the culprit and help a friend in need, leaning on an art teacher who teaches them an important lesson from Japan. Unfortunately the language feels stiff, and the friendships at the heart of the story are too generic. Readers learn little about these characters before the earthquake, and they fail to emerge as individuals afterward. The simple frames, awash in blue for nighttime scenes and shades of ocher for day, feel static for such an energetic premise. Most characters appear white; there is a Muslim refugee family; and Giulia is brown skinned.

Lacking in character development and depth. (author’s note) (Graphic novel. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3368-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more