This is a millennial sort of comic: An obscure Japanese video game was turned into a webcomic, which has now been collected into a book.
The character of Bravoman is so odd that he may make more sense in a humor strip than as a superhero. In a “super-quick, abbreviated origin” story, an alien endows him with the ability to turn into a submarine and to stretch his arms and legs great distances. The rest of the book is designed like a webcomic. Almost every page has a comments section, with behind-the-scenes information from the creators. The notes and preliminary sketches are often more entertaining than the cartoons. Like many millennial comics, these strips tend to have no punch lines. Some end with an explanatory note, as in: “Editor’s note: If you were fluent in both crow demon and musical cyborg ninja, this strip would be hilarious.” The middle of the comic, however, is sometimes very funny. Two female characters interrupt a fight so Bravo Woman can say, “You’re totally ruining our Bechdel test score!” The book has all the elements of a great comic strip. The storylines are clever, and the characters are beautifully drawn—usually in the boldest primary colors. The elements just seem to be in the wrong order: Almost every climax is an anticlimax.
Readers may get tired of waiting for a punch line that never comes.
(foreword, sketch gallery)
(Graphic short stories. 7-14)
Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.
Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.
A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.
After Castro’s takeover, nine-year-old Julian and his older brothers are sent away by their fearful parents via “Operation Pedro Pan” to a camp in Miami for Cuban-exile children. Here he discovers that a ruthless bully has essentially been put in charge. Julian is quicker-witted than his brothers or anyone else ever imagined, though, and with his inherent smarts, developing maturity and the help of child and adult friends, he learns to navigate the dynamics of the camp and surroundings and grows from the former baby of the family to independence and self-confidence. A daring rescue mission at the end of the novel will have readers rooting for Julian even as it opens his family’s eyes to his courage and resourcefulness. This autobiographical novel is a well-meaning, fast-paced and often exciting read, though at times the writing feels choppy. It will introduce readers to a not-so-distant period whose echoes are still felt today and inspire admiration for young people who had to be brave despite frightening and lonely odds. (Historical fiction. 9-12)