Captivating and lyrical.

Shaheen’s dad is missing. Music, which bonded them over the years, now seems to be the cause of their separation.

Twelve-year-old Shahi and her journalist father, an avid record collector, have connected through music for as long as she can remember, although lately he seems to pay attention to it more than he does to her. Until the day Shahi’s dad gets lost in music—literally. Shahi and her cousin, Tannaz, set out to find him by sleuthing after hours inside the local record store, where he and Earl, the store’s owner, were last seen. They discover a massive jukebox, which they come to realize is magical, as it transports them back in time whenever it plays a record. Hopping in and out of time to attend legendary concerts seems to have led to both men’s disappearance. Now Shahi and Naz need to figure out if there is a way to bring them back. The story highlights the eras and contributions of notable Black musicians including Bessie Smith, Nina Simone, James Brown, and Marvin Gaye. Chanani’s illustrations of the family’s San Francisco neighborhood as well as the historical settings are delightfully colorful and vibrant, and her attention to detail is impeccable. She weaves musicality into her exploration of personal relationships, creating a world where music connects us all. Shahi has Italian and Bangladeshi heritage; Naz is Bangladeshi American and bisexual, and Earl is Black.

Captivating and lyrical. (playlist, author's note) (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-15636-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021


Brilliantly enchanting.

Two reluctant friends—and a talking bear—journey deep into the night in search of answers.

The night of the annual Autumn Equinox Festival unfolds as the villagers cast hundreds of lanterns down the river in honor of a local folk legend. For Ben, this year will be different from the rest. He and his friends make a pact to follow the lanterns until the unknown end of their voyage. One by one Ben’s friends give up and return home, all except for Nathaniel, whose love for the cosmos and nerdy ways ostracize him from the group. In spite of his misgivings, Ben decides to uphold the pact with Nathaniel. A third, unexpected member joins the adventure when the boys come across a talking fisherbear who’s on a quest to fish as his ancestors did. The trio eventually loses track of the path, and an unplanned encounter with the feisty Madam Majestic leads to even greater escapades. To shed more light on the story risks spoiling Andrews’ marvelously melancholic, earnest graphic novel, at its core an exercise in whimsical self-reflection. This story’s a quiet one in which danger flickers and hope flares at odd but fruitful moments. The core relationship between Ben (a dark-haired, light-skinned, bespectacled boy) and Nathaniel (a dark-skinned boy with puffs of hair) never veers into pure mawkishness. Likewise, the primarily blue and red mixed-media pictures underscore how nighttime sometimes promises transformation.

Brilliantly enchanting. (Graphic fabulism. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-19695-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019


Stronger in character than plot but spooky in parts.

An old Colorado hotel with dark secrets and a brooding horror novelist as its caretaker make a properly atmospheric setting for a young filmmaker’s latest project.

Fresh from the cinematic escapades of Shark Summer (2021), teenage documentarian Elijah Jones arrives in Estes Park thinking he’s been invited to record a rare interview with famous recluse Jack Axworth—but he’s actually been summoned to make a biopic of the novelist, who has young-onset dementia. Once again, the footage Elijah ends up with tells more than the story he set out to make, as Axworth’s poignant reminiscences and increasingly erratic behavior become inextricably mixed with a portrait of a struggling town whose history and very survival center on the nearby Underlook Hotel, a closed-up resort haunted by tales of supernatural evil and slated for imminent demolition. Is there time to save it? The storyline struggles to advance through thickets of subplots and hints, but the Underlook’s deadline adds enough suspense to keep readers interested, and the hotel turns out to have hidden levels and treasures to be discovered when the action flags. Also, Marcks trots out such an engaging supporting cast, led by local teen engineering whiz Suzy Hess and including colorful characters like a ghost hunter with a truly creepy crow, that watching the ensemble in action is pleasurable enough. Finished art was not seen, but Elijah and another significant character present as Black in the otherwise White cast.

Stronger in character than plot but spooky in parts. (Graphic fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-27806-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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