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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

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A pride-filled treatise and a charming riff on fairy tales.

After her parents’ sudden death, brown-haired, pale-skinned Jane is threatened with eviction from her family home.

Despite her low self-image, based on years of shallow, fatphobic taunts from her parents, Jane suggests a deal to discontented fisherman Peter, who’s thin and has blond hair and blue eyes (as well as being vapid and arrogant). They’ll marry, and then she can inherit her fortune, and he can enjoy the luxurious lifestyle he craves. It seems like a great plan, until Peter is taken captive and imprisoned underwater by a mermaid. The determined Jane seeks magical assistance and heads to the mermaid village at the bottom of the sea to retrieve Peter. Brosgol’s illustrations provide much of Jane’s characterization through her delightfully expressive face, which shines with pleasure and grimaces in disgust; her round eyes are alert to all the charms of the sea. Fortunately, she’s rescued by an acerbic, grumpily appealing seal, who educates her about the sea’s perils. This story is an explicit response to society’s valuing of beauty and contempt for its absence, especially when it comes to girls and women. Pitted against a slender, cruelly vain mermaid who weaponizes her looks, Jane emerges as a thoughtful, tenacious hero who’s learning to appreciate her own value. Brosgol redeems the occasional preachiness with her portrayal of Jane as an individual—funny, flawed, and triumphant.

A pride-filled treatise and a charming riff on fairy tales. (author’s note, beat boards, coloring process) (Graphic fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781250314864

Page Count: 368

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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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

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