A feel-good fantasy of flowering friendship.

THE SPRITE AND THE GARDENER

A sprite nurtures both confidence and community as she embraces magic.

Sprites once looked after and nurtured all plant life. Once humans appeared in this corner of suburbia, taking on landscaping duties, the sprites stepped back, but they still revel in the glories of gardens. New to the neighborhood of Sylvan Trace, sprite Wisteria quickly gets an introduction to the best backyards. Although the sprite crew is welcoming, she can’t help but feel a little left out and decides to do some of her own exploring. Stumbling upon a notoriously poorly maintained garden on Meadowgreen Drive, Wisteria uses her magic to help it along, finding delight both in her work and in the child resident’s joy. In a sense, young human Elena—who meets Wisteria in the now flourishing garden—is new as well. She’s been trying her best to rescue the garden her overworked mom has neglected. Both sprite and gardener recognize that they’re better off working together. This gentle story is full of charm and is an affirming tale of teamwork, initiative, and determination. The detailed linework in combination with the retro color palette of pinks, oranges, purples, and greens create an expressive tone that supports the narrative. Wonderfully emotive faces charmingly convey character and lush surroundings, and interesting angles capture the awe of nature. The cast of sprites and humans displays a wide range of physical appearances.

A feel-good fantasy of flowering friendship. (design notes) (Graphic fantasy. 10-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62010-906-9

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Oni Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A warm, sweet, lovely tale of a world readers will want to live in.

ALWAYS HUMAN

In a not-so-distant future where changing one’s physical features is as easy as purchasing nanobot mods, Sunati falls for Austen, a girl who always looks the same.

Since Austen never changes, Sunati admires what she assumes is her bravery and confidence. As Sunati and Austen chat more, Austen bluntly asks Sunati if she only wants to get to know her more because of her medical condition, which prevents her from using mods. As they gradually grow closer, Sunati learns how to interact more respectfully with those who have overactive immune systems as well as to share her feelings more honestly. Austen, in turn, learns to trust Sunati. This beautifully illustrated slice-of-life tale that shows two young women of color getting to know each other and creating a relationship is so warm and charming that readers will hardly notice how much they are learning about how to better interact with folx who are different from themselves and the importance of not making assumptions. The story also successfully weaves in agender, genderfluid, and asexual characters as well as the subjects of parenting and colorism into the natural arc of Sunati and Austen’s developing story. The soft, romantic artwork evokes hazy watercolors. The speech bubbles are predominantly pink and blue, and the varied layout will maintain readers’ interest.

A warm, sweet, lovely tale of a world readers will want to live in. (Graphic romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1110-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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This winning paranormal uses witchcraft to explore adolescent rebellion.

THE OKAY WITCH

From the Okay Witch series , Vol. 1

It is Halloween when Moth Hush finds out she is descended from a line of witches.

Her mother reveals the story of their witch origins going back to 17th-century Europe, which Moth’s maternal grandmother, Sarah, fled along with her order for supposed safety in Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, only to find persecution there. Led by Sarah, the witches escaped the wrath of the Puritans through a blood ritual that opened a portal to Hecate, a spiritual realm that provided safety. Moth’s mother rebelled and broke away from the coven to live in the real world, ultimately as a single parent to Moth in the 21st century. After a talking black cat (the spirit of a deceased neighbor) appears and befriends Moth, Moth peeks at her mother’s diary—which opens a portal to Hecate, and Moth secretly begins to practice spells unsupervised and to connect with her family there. Moth and family sort through a complicated lineage whose legacy reveals itself to be very much alive in present-day Founder’s Bluff. In Steinkellner’s graphic panels, Moth and her family have brown skin and puffy dark hair, and the 17th-century coven is shown to be multiracial. The complex history provides a mechanism through which Moth sorts through her own coming-of-age as a modern girl of color, and it’s the loving, oftentimes humorous rapport among the Hush women that grounds this graphic novel.

This winning paranormal uses witchcraft to explore adolescent rebellion. (Graphic fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3146-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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