A gently illustrated text that will appeal to die-hard completists.

READ REVIEW

DEAR JUSTICE LEAGUE

The World’s Finest answer emails from middle schoolers.

Superman, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, and more correspond with their fans in this middle-grade graphic novel, multiple vignettes hanging on the throughline of heroes answering fan mail. Some are silly while others are a bit more weighty; all are illustrated amicably by Duarte. There’s a hazy, muted quality to the colors that ground the Justice League and their foes in an approximation of the real world. This grounding compliments the novel well: The transition from Arthur “Aquaman” Curry’s thwarting Black Manta to chatting with his fish and typing away at a laptop would be jarring without this unified color palette. Unfortunately, the coloring’s flatness chips away at the book’s pacing, and the text gets a bit repetitive after a while. It’s all well and good for kids to see bits of themselves in their favorite heroes, but when that’s the book’s only move it gets old quickly. Even at a slim 132 pages, the novel feels overlong. Young fans of the DC characters will be attracted to the cover, but there’s little here to keep them engaged, and few will rank this as a favorite. There’s little exposition regarding the heroes’ background, so those unfamiliar with the characters will feel as though they’re on the outside looking in.

A gently illustrated text that will appeal to die-hard completists. (Graphic fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4012-8413-8

Page Count: 136

Publisher: DC Zoom

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A solid, not particularly daring addition to the hybrid format for middle-grade readers, mixing drama with heart.

POSITIVELY IZZY

This reader-friendly graphic/prose hybrid explores the lives of two very different girls who have an unexpected connection.

Izzy and Brianna both, separately, navigate difficult middle school experiences. Brianna, whose story is told entirely in sequential panels, is studious, reserved, and a little lonely. Izzy, who tells her story in paragraphs broken up by illustrations, is an unreliable middle sister with a love for performance and a lot of indifference toward schoolwork. Izzy sneaks out against her mother’s wishes to perform in the school talent show, while Bri’s mother (also a teacher at her school) convinces her to fill in for a sick actor. Both girls juggle complex family dynamics, shifting friend groups, and boys in the hours leading up to their performances. The story is light but resonant for middle graders, with constant comedic asides in the illustrations. Both girls appear white (based on the color cover), with multiracial supporting casts, and both threads of the story skirt larger issues. The opening pages, in which Bri complains about labels, hint at a larger theme that recedes into the background as the two girls struggle with their interpersonal relationships. Readers primed by the back-cover blurb will spend the whole book waiting for the two stories to intersect, with a surprise reveal at the end that may call for an immediate reread.

A solid, not particularly daring addition to the hybrid format for middle-grade readers, mixing drama with heart. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-248497-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Kibuishi gives his epic tale a hefty nudge toward its long-building climax while giving readers plenty of reasons to stick...

SUPERNOVA

From the Amulet series , Vol. 8

Stonekeeper Emily frees the elves from their monstrous masked ruler and sets out to rejoin her brother and mother in the series’ penultimate episode.

The multistranded storyline picks up with Emily’s return to the world of Alledia. Now a fiery, destructive phoenix struggling to regain control of her actions, Emily goes on to follow her brother Navin and allies as they battle invading shadows on the nearby world of Typhon, then switches back to human form for a climactic confrontation with the Elf King—in the course of which Emily rips off his mask to a chorus of “ERGH!! NO!!! GRAH! RRGH!! AAAGH!” to expose a rousingly hideous face. Cute animal heads on many figures (the result of a curse) and a scene with benevolent-looking trees provide at least a bit of relief from the grim expressions that all the human and humanoid elven characters almost invariably wear. But along with emphatic sound effects, the battle and action scenes in the cleanly drawn, if sometimes cramped, panels feature huge blasts of fire or energy, intricately detailed giant robots, weirdly eyeless monsters, and wild escapades aplenty to keep the pace’s pedal to the metal. Aliens and AIs in the cast come in a variety of hues, elves are a uniform gray, and except for a brief encounter between Emily and a slightly darker lad, the (uncursed) humans default to white.

Kibuishi gives his epic tale a hefty nudge toward its long-building climax while giving readers plenty of reasons to stick around for it. (Graphic fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-545-85002-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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