An anything-but-boring introduction to the beautiful mysteries of the universe.

SOLAR SYSTEM

OUR PLACE IN SPACE

From the Science Comics series

Two friends on Earth explore the solar system through an out-of-this-world tale about their space-traveling pets.

Sarah, sick in bed, is thrilled when her friend Jill comes to visit, since after organizing her socks and reading all of her books, she’s gotten pretty bored. To entertain her friend, Jill uses a nonfiction book about the solar system as framework for an adventure story starring their pets. Capt. Riley the dog, Cmdr. Pepper the cat, engineer Fortinbras the hamster, and science officer Slithers the snake are led by an AI named Precise Astronomical Locator (P.A.L. for short) who is obsessed with the game chess. They visit all eight planets, including Earth, and send reports back to Sarah in order to spark her interest and enthusiasm, which translates into the fuel they need to feed their spaceship—EnthusiPlasma! Through a bubbly plot and charming graphic-novel illustrations, author Mosco and illustrator Chad (with colorist Healy) create a world in which learning really is fun and even the faraway Pluto comes within reach. Concepts such as gravity and fusion are clearly explained with help from accompanying diagrams. Dialogue among both humans and animals feels natural, and the illustrations are colorful and vibrant; that Sarah and Jill are both kids of color is another plus. Backmatter includes a glossary and a guide to watching meteor showers.

An anything-but-boring introduction to the beautiful mysteries of the universe. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-141-8

Page Count: 130

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A rich and deeply felt slice of life.

JUST PRETEND

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 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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