No, the princess doesn’t really get her due—but at least the horse survives.

READ REVIEW

THE HEARTLESS TROLL

A dark, old tale recast in a lighter vein, featuring a young prince, a captive princess, and a troll with a hidden heart.

Setting out to find his six brothers and their brides, who have been turned to stone by an evil troll, Prince Fred gets help along the way from his nervous talking horse and a chance-met elephant, tricks a hungry wolf (rather than give it the horse in trade, as in the original), and enlists a willing princess to lie down with the troll (in pajamas) to winkle out just where the giant has hidden his heart. Said organ turns out to be stashed in a magically sealed jar at the bottom of a filing cabinet guarded by a giant octopus—an ill-considered plan, since octopuses are particularly good at opening jars (this is true). Following a prose opening, Torseter presents the tale in a mix of panels and larger scenes, all drawn as thin-lined cartoons with color highlights. Fred and his clan recall the Moomins; the princesses are all human but too stylized to determine ethnic identity (they are diversely garbed, though); and the troll is a particularly hideous, hulking figure. Come the denouement, off ride Fred and “his” capable but never-named princess to a “more or less” happily-ever-after.

No, the princess doesn’t really get her due—but at least the horse survives. (source note) (Graphic folk tale. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59270-193-3

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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NIGHTLIGHTS

When a young girl’s imagination and creativity are co-opted by a mysterious new friend, she must find a way to regain what is rightfully hers.

Sandy is a brown-skinned, dark-haired girl with big black eyes and a vivid imagination. At night, as she goes to sleep, she catches the lights bobbing about in her room and turns them into anything she imagines. The next day is spent drawing the fantastical creatures from her dreams, much to the detriment of her schoolwork. When a tall, pale-skinned girl with purple hair befriends her, Sandy is excited, though there is something eerie and unsettling about her new companion. Her excitement soon turns to anger as Morfie enters her imaginative nighttime world and tries to take it over. Readers will cheer at the clever way in which Sandy regains control. Using a lovely palette that includes a liberal amount of rich, dark purple, Colombian-born Alvarez has drawn a world that harks back to her native Bogotá and days in Catholic school, evoking it in wonderful detail and atmosphere. Her pages are not crowded yet are filled with details that will engage readers. The beings that inhabit Sandy’s nighttime world are simply delightful. The album size, cloth spine binding, and spot gloss on the cover are the icing on the cake of this beautiful graphic novel.

A winner. (Graphic fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-910620-13-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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