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A harrowing yet ultimately hopeful look at the manifestation of mental illness.

An Irish boy navigates coming of age while living with OCD in this graphic memoir.

At 10, Pan realized he was different from his friends. While they obsessed over Pokémon cards, Pan, who has light skin and a mop of tousled brown hair, found that he battled intrusive thoughts that kept him awake well into the night. He calls these thoughts “the Puzzle.” His efforts to find solutions included repetitive prayers, compulsive counting, and an eventual descent into disordered eating, all while navigating his school career. Pan attends a Catholic school and questions whether he’s possessed by the devil, if God is speaking to him, or if he’s just plain “crazy.” When his symptoms turn physical, he seeks help from myriad specialists. The doctors find nothing physically wrong with him, so he takes to the internet for assistance and stumbles upon his eventual diagnosis of OCD. The cheery colors in many of the panels serve as a stark contrast to the dark thoughts in Pan’s head, while the blue-gray panels illustrating Pan’s thought spirals emphasize his distress. Pan’s striking story handles mental health with care and precision, dispelling myths about OCD and providing readers with the language necessary to discuss its signs and symptoms. Readers will also appreciate the quick yet comprehensive overview of cognitive behavioral therapy treatment toward the end.

A harrowing yet ultimately hopeful look at the manifestation of mental illness. (content warning) (Graphic memoir. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 16, 2024

ISBN: 9780593615614

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Rocky Pond Books/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024

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From the They Did What? series

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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From the Giants of Science series

Hot on the heels of the well-received Leonardo da Vinci (2005) comes another agreeably chatty entry in the Giants of Science series. Here the pioneering physicist is revealed as undeniably brilliant, but also cantankerous, mean-spirited, paranoid and possibly depressive. Newton’s youth and annus mirabilis receive respectful treatment, the solitude enforced by family estrangement and then the plague seen as critical to the development of his thoughtful, methodical approach. His subsequent squabbles with the rest of the scientific community—he refrained from publishing one treatise until his rival was dead—further support the image of Newton as a scientific lone wolf. Krull’s colloquial treatment sketches Newton’s advances in clearly understandable terms without bogging the text down with detailed explanations. A final chapter on “His Impact” places him squarely in the pantheon of great thinkers, arguing that both his insistence on the scientific method and his theories of physics have informed all subsequent scientific thought. A bibliography, web site and index round out the volume; the lack of detail on the use of sources is regrettable in an otherwise solid offering for middle-grade students. (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-670-05921-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2006

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