A passable introduction to horror for young readers in an engaging format.

METAPHROG'S BLUEBEARD

In this diminutive graphic-novel adaptation of the “Bluebeard” tale, Eve and her siblings confront the mysterious and sinister man whose castle looms over their village.

The sparse text is narrated by an older Eve as she recounts her youth and reluctant marriage at age 18 to Count Bluebeard. Her slow-burn tale successfully builds suspense, though it’s somewhat diluted by clunky writing and excessive use of ellipses. The stylized illustrations have a soft quality that contrasts with the characters’ exaggerated expressions. Spreads and panels that predominantly feature blues and pinks seem to correspond with Bluebeard and pink-haired Eve, respectively. Despite the limited color palette, readers can distinguish characters’ skin tones: Eve, her family, and Bluebeard all appear white while her best friend and true love, Tom, has brown skin along with several unnamed townspeople. This adaptation retains many elements that characterize existing versions of the tale, including a bloody key, dead wives (here, with minimal gore), sibling saviors, and an enchanted castle. Yet, though Eve claims that the “bond between two sisters, our love, proved stronger than any evil spell,” this self-identified “feminist fairy tale” treats that bond superficially (a slap from Eve is what finally breaks her sister Anne’s trance). Overall, the characters and worldbuilding are frustratingly two-dimensional; readers would be better served with Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods (2014).

A passable introduction to horror for young readers in an engaging format. (Graphic fairy tale. 10-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5458-0412-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Papercutz

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

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NEW KID

From the New Kid series , Vol. 1

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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