Sweet, fun, Sapphic fluff.

THE GIRL FROM THE SEA

A new love with a mysterious girl upends a Canadian teen’s plans.

Morgan Kwon likes to keep her “life tucked neatly into boxes,” especially the one containing the secret that she is gay. She doesn’t believe she can be out until she’s away from her small island and in college. There’s enough drama in her life already with her recently divorced parents and angry younger brother. After Morgan is rescued from drowning by a selkie girl named Keltie who has big shiny eyes and a round face, she keeps their blossoming romance secret. Keltie has her own goals, though, and being quiet isn’t one of them. She needs Morgan’s help, but that will take Morgan’s willingness to open up about herself to others. Selkie lore is enchantingly interwoven in this light fantasy tale that also touches on environmentalism with a plotline regarding pollution of the seals’ habitat. The island setting enriches the story and comes alive through the art with many lovely water scenes. Panels are broken up with occasional text chats between friends, and the art makes use of varied perspectives and layouts to maintain visual interest. Story threads about conflicts with friends and family are believable but fairly surface level, and the romance is charming and tender. Morgan and Keltie’s mutual attraction is adorable, and their cute, happy kisses and cuddles are sure to elicit joy. Morgan’s name indicates Korean heritage; Keltie reads White.

Sweet, fun, Sapphic fluff. (Graphic fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-54058-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Will both entertain and encourage reflection.

CINDERELLA IS DEAD

In Mersailles, “Cinderella” is more than just a fairy tale: It’s the basis for a harsh monarch’s throttlehold on his kingdom.

Sophia is turning 16, the age at which young women must attend King Manford’s annual ball, at which they are scrutinized by and married off to male attendees. Any young woman who has not been claimed after her third ball is destined to spend the rest of her days engaged in hard labor. But being chosen can be its own curse in a society where domestic violence is common. Sophia is a beautiful Black girl in love with dark-haired Erin, one of her best friends. While racial diversity is a natural part of this world, the same acceptance does not exist for those who defy rigid gender norms: Anything other than heterosexual desire is strictly forbidden, and while Sophia wishes to escape as a couple, Erin is too fearful. After fleeing the ball, Sophia stumbles across Cinderella’s mausoleum, hidden in the woods. There she meets rebellious Constance, an attractive young red-haired woman with a very personal motivation for sabotaging the monarchy. As the two grew closer—and sparks fly—they discover secrets that could end Manford’s cruel reign. This promising debut deals with themes around rebellion and empowerment as well as the toll that rejecting the status quo can take on relationships. The atmospheric setting is a particular strength, and the twists and turns will keep readers in suspense.

Will both entertain and encourage reflection. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0387-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

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For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else.

ALL THIS TIME

A modern-day fairy tale about two teenagers suffering from loss who find healing in one another.

Despite the ups and downs in their relationship, Kyle and Kimberly have always made up, and Kyle looks forward to attending college together after graduation. But on the night they should be celebrating, Kimberly confesses that she has committed to a different college and breaks up with him. As they argue, their car crashes, and Kyle later wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kimberly is dead. In his grief, Kyle blames himself for her death. He struggles to leave his bed most days, ignores calls from his and Kimberly’s best friend, Sam, and has visions of Kimberly and life before the accident. One day, while visiting Kimberly’s grave, he meets Marley, a girl who likes telling stories and is mourning the death of her twin sister. Predictably, their natural affinity for one another evolves into romance. It is unfortunate that Kyle essentially moves from one romantic relationship to another on his journey to better understanding himself and his co-dependence on those closest to him, although his gradual development into a more considerate person redeems him. The pacing remains even until the critical plot disruption, resulting in the rest of the story feeling disjointed and rushed. All characters are White.

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6634-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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