MEXIKID

A retro yet timeless story of family and identity.

Martín brings his successful Mexikid Stories online comic series to print.

Living in California’s Central Coast as a first-generation Mexican American, Pedro (or the “American-style” Peter) struggles to find his place. As an American kid growing up in the 1970s, he loves Star Wars and Happy Days but dislikes the way his five oldest siblings, who were born in Mexico, make him feel less Mexican just because he and the three other younger siblings were born after his parents immigrated to the U.S. to work picking strawberries. A family trip to Jalisco to bring their abuelito back to California to live with them presents Pedro with an opportunity to get in touch with his roots and learn more about the places his family calls home. Told from Pedro’s perspective, the panels read as a stream-of-consciousness travelogue as he regales readers with his adventures from the road. Along the way, Pedro has fresh encounters with Mexican culture and experiences some unexpected side quests. Full of humor, heart, and a decent amount of gross-out moments, Martín’s coming-of-age memoir hits all the right notes. Though the family’s travels took place decades ago, the struggles with establishing identity, especially as a child of immigrants whose identity straddles two cultures, feel as current as ever. The vibrant, action-packed panels offer plentiful details for readers to pore over, from scenes of crowded family chaos to the sights of Mexico.

A retro yet timeless story of family and identity. (family photos, author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 9-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2023

ISBN: 9780593462287

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

JUST PRETEND

A rich and deeply felt slice of life.

Crafting fantasy worlds offers a budding middle school author relief and distraction from the real one in this graphic memoir debut.

Everyone in Tori’s life shows realistic mixes of vulnerability and self-knowledge while, equally realistically, seeming to be making it up as they go. At least, as she shuttles between angrily divorced parents—dad becoming steadily harder to reach, overstressed mom spectacularly incapable of reading her offspring—or drifts through one wearingly dull class after another, she has both vivacious bestie Taylor Lee and, promisingly, new classmate Nick as well as the (all-girl) heroic fantasy, complete with portals, crystal amulets, and evil enchantments, taking shape in her mind and on paper. The flow of school projects, sleepovers, heart-to-heart conversations with Taylor, and like incidents (including a scene involving Tori’s older brother, who is having a rough adolescence, that could be seen as domestic violence) turns to a tide of change as eighth grade winds down and brings unwelcome revelations about friends. At least the story remains as solace and, at the close, a sense that there are still chapters to come in both worlds. Working in a simple, expressive cartoon style reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s, Sharp captures facial and body language with easy naturalism. Most people in the spacious, tidily arranged panels are White; Taylor appears East Asian, and there is diversity in background characters.

A rich and deeply felt slice of life. (afterword, design notes) (Graphic memoir. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53889-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

FRIENDS FOREVER

From the Friends series , Vol. 3

A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl.

Shannon just wants to get through eighth grade in one piece—while feeling like her own worst enemy.

In this third entry in popular author for young people Hale’s graphic memoir series, the young, sensitive overachiever is crushed by expectations: to be cool but loyal to her tightknit and dramatic friend group, a top student but not a nerd, attractive to boys but true to her ideals. As events in Shannon’s life begin to overwhelm her, she works toward finding a way to love and understand herself, follow her passions for theater and writing, and ignore her cruel inner voice. Capturing the visceral embarrassments of middle school in 1987 Salt Lake City, Shannon’s emotions are vivid and often excruciating. In particular, the social norms of a church-oriented family are clearly addressed, and religion is shown as being both a comfort and a struggle for Shannon. While the text is sometimes in danger of spelling things out a little too neatly and obviously, the emotional honesty and sincerity drawn from Hale’s own life win out. Pham’s artwork is vibrant and appealing, with stylistic changes for Shannon’s imaginings and the leeching out of color and use of creative panel structures as her anxiety and depression worsen.

A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl. (author's note, gallery) (Graphic memoir. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-31755-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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