Beautiful and thought-provoking; questions unanswered will linger in readers' minds.

ICHIRO

A young American teen, son of a Japanese immigrant and an American soldier killed in combat, goes to Japan with his mother for an extended visit and begins to grapple with sophisticated cultural complexities.

The graphic novel opens with a familiar Japanese legend about a shape-changing tanuki trickster spirit. The story cuts to New York City, where Ichiro and his mother prepare for their trip. Ichiro has been very close to his American grandfather, who has schooled him in the worst kinds of American jingoism. First his mother, then his Japanese grandfather began to share the legends and history of Japan, both positive and negative, with Ichiro. A nighttime pursuit of a persimmon-thieving tanuki turns into a surreal odyssey that takes Ichiro deep into the mythic realm of Japanese folklore. Inzana’s graphic style is, at first glance, far more Western than Japanese-influenced; there is no look of manga in his figures. But his compositions and his brushwork, particularly exquisite transitional spreads between episodes, echo classical Japanese art, and his depiction of the Japanese Otherworld will seem familiar to anyone who has seen a Miyazaki film. Ichiro's realistic and mythic journeys combine to give both him and readers a better understanding of the importance of both understanding and overcoming history.

Beautiful and thought-provoking; questions unanswered will linger in readers' minds. (Graphic novel. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-25269-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A rush of emotion and suspense.

THE FIRST TO DIE AT THE END

Crowds gather across the United States for the launch of Death-Cast, a company that promises to change the world by predicting the deaths of everyone who subscribes in this prequel to They Both Die at the End (2017).

Orion Pagan, an aspiring author with a heart condition, hopes his phone won’t ring at midnight, but he knows Death-Cast’s call is coming soon. Unlike Orion, Valentino Prince, a model on the verge of his national debut, has no reason to anticipate Death-Cast’s call and isn’t sure if he believes the company’s claims. By coincidence or fate, their lives collide at a party in Times Square, and a single, historic phone call alters the courses of their futures. This heart-pounding story follows the final day of the first Decker, or person who is going to die, and the national chaos of Death-Cast’s premiere. Silvera crafts a web of intricately interconnected character perspectives and conflicts around Orion and Valentino. Apart from Valentino and his twin sister, who are presumed White, most of the characters are Latine, including White-passing Orion, whose family is Puerto Rican. The story confronts heavy topics like grief, abuse, and religious faith with complexity and care. Despite the presumed inevitability of a fatal end to the central romance between Orion and Valentino, Silvera subverts the trope of punishing gay characters with violent tragedy. Familiarity with the original book provides additional context and depth but isn’t essential to understanding the plot.

A rush of emotion and suspense. (Speculative fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-324080-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

A reimagined folktale as grand as its painted visuals are sublime.

SHUNA'S JOURNEY

A dangerous quest to feed an impoverished land leads to chance encounters and awe-inspiring sights.

Shuna, the prince of a humble, struggling country, acts on the advice of a dying traveler from an Eastern land to seek out seeds that will grow bountiful grains. What he finds is a hostile city built on greed with an active slave trade. After meeting Thea and her little sister, Shuna fights to free them from enslavers. Every scene in this cinematic work stands apart with breathtaking watercolors aided by expert staging and blocking. The sights along Shuna’s journey range from a derelict ship in a treacherous desert to supernatural creatures and settings. The certainty and simplicity of Shuna’s motivations along with Thea’s own narrative arc allow the story to move nimbly from one larger-than-life spectacle to another. The pages read right-to-left manga style, while large panels and minimal dialogue create an immediate, immersive experience for readers. The narration sits outside or along the edges of panels, allowing the lush visuals maximum room to impress. Afterwords from the author and translator describe the story’s roots in a Tibetan folktale as well as comparisons to Miyazaki’s later animated works; this story, translated from Japanese, was originally published in Japan in 1983 before Miyazaki rose to fame with Studio Ghibli. The story’s cultural origins are cued through characters’ garb and other visual elements.

A reimagined folktale as grand as its painted visuals are sublime. (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-84652-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more