A darkly pensive read, perfect for chilly fall evenings.

THE RED SHOES AND OTHER TALES

In this slim anthology, two of Hans Christian Andersen’s timeless tales are visually reimagined and presented along with one original offering.

Hailing from France and Scotland, respectively, Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers, collectively known as Metaphrog, have envisioned three dark fairy tales to make this slender collection. The first tale, Andersen’s "The Red Shoes," is rendered in a muted palette dominated by washed-out blues and punctuated by splashes of rust-colored red. It recounts the familiar tale of a young girl obsessed with a pair of scarlet shoes that causes her to dance without end, until she must cut off her own feet to quell their perpetual motion (depicted graphically but bloodlessly). The second, "The Glass Case," is an original, sepia-toned tale of a young boy who's beaten and unloved at home and who befriends a doll at a museum, eventually running away to be with her. The final piece is the well-known "The Little Match Girl," which uses austere, glacial grays to tell the story of a young girl fruitlessly trying to sell matches on a cold, bleak winter night. Similar panel sizes and layouts and a homogeneous tone throughout create a smartly cohesive and atmospheric collection, each vignette made distinctive by a carefully selected color scheme. This is a must-read for fans of Emily Carroll's Through the Woods (2014).

A darkly pensive read, perfect for chilly fall evenings. (Graphic fairy tales. 8-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62991-283-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Papercutz

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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This engaging, heartwarming story does everything one can ask of a book, and then some.

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WHEN STARS ARE SCATTERED

A Somali boy living in a refugee camp in Kenya tries to make a future for himself and his brother in this near memoir interpreted as a graphic novel by collaborator Jamieson.

Omar Mohamed lives in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya with his younger brother, Hassan, who has a seizure disorder, and Fatuma, an elderly woman assigned to foster them in their parents’ absence. The boys’ father was killed in Somalia’s civil war, prompting them to flee on foot when they were separated from their mother. They desperately hope she is still alive and looking for them, as they are for her. The book covers six years, during which Omar struggles with decisions about attending school and how much hope to have about opportunities to resettle in a new land, like the United States. Through Omar’s journey, and those of his friends and family members, readers get a close, powerful view of the trauma and uncertainty that attend life as a refugee as well as the faith, love, and support from unexpected quarters that get people through it. Jamieson’s characteristically endearing art, warmly colored by Geddy, perfectly complements Omar’s story, conjuring memorable and sympathetic characters who will stay with readers long after they close the book. Photographs of the brothers and an afterword provide historical context; Mohamed and Jamieson each contribute an author’s note.

This engaging, heartwarming story does everything one can ask of a book, and then some. (Graphic memoir. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55391-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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