Vividly rendered.

A fictionalized graphic biography of Siddhartha, from sheltered prince to founder of Buddhism.

Readers meet young Siddhartha as a boy shielded from the outside world by his father, a king who fears the negative influences of the world and seeks to protect his son from pain. Siddhartha’s compassion for an injured swan sets the tone for a life of kindness and determination. Though living within the protected walls of a palace, young Siddhartha remains curious about the world. Unsatisfied by the imposed separation from the people he will one day serve as king, he disguises himself and sneaks into the city. There, he witnesses harsh realities that change his perspective, fueling his quest for understanding. Even meeting Yashodara, the princess he later marries, doesn’t quell his concerns about the world, suffering, and impermanence. Siddhartha leaves the safety of home to join a teacher, following a spiritual path of meditation and restraint. After six years, he realizes neither indulgence nor denial provide clarity. Once he grasps the relationship between desire and suffering, Siddhartha’s path to enlightenment unfolds in flowing images of the eightfold path. The Awakened One inspires disciples and returns home, not as king but spiritual leader. The book conveys complex concepts in an accessible way and will appeal to readers who are curious about the origins of Buddhism. Ediriweera’s atmospheric illustrations include monochromatic, soothing blue watercolor-style backgrounds, and single-color accents of brown and orange highlight the crisp linework.

Vividly rendered. (further reading, developmental sketches) (Graphic historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9781665903110

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


Frankly a delight.

A lively queer Camelot for modern audiences.

Several hundred years after the time of the fabled king Arthur Pendragon, Gwendoline and her older brother, Gabriel, are princess and prince of Camelot. Gwen has been betrothed since birth to Arthur Delacey, whose father’s family claims ancestry from Mordred. Gwen’s first problem with this arrangement is that she and Arthur hate each other. The second is revealed when Arthur comes to the royal castle for the summer tournament in which knights compete for renown—and Gwen catches him making out with a servant boy. But then Arthur obtains proof of Gwen’s obsession with Lady Bridget Leclair, England’s only female knight and a competitor in the tourney. Engaging in mutual blackmail, they form an understanding, though over the course of the summer it turns into an initially begrudging, then supportive friendship, especially when Arthur starts learning more about heir-to-the-throne Gabe. In this fun summer romance, Croucher creates main characters who feel distinctly modern in their dialogue and interactions. They maneuver through the historical setting, including social expectations and limited medical care, in ways that both seem natural and often offer commentary on more current affairs. This is a wonderful expansion of the YA romance genre. Gwen and her family are white, and she is coded queer and demisexual. Arthur is Iranian on his mother’s side and coded gay, as is Gabe. There is additional diversity in the supporting cast.

Frankly a delight. (Historical romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781250847218

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023


Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers...

A harrowing tale of survival in the Killing Fields.

The childhood of Arn Chorn-Pond has been captured for young readers before, in Michelle Lord and Shino Arihara's picture book, A Song for Cambodia (2008). McCormick, known for issue-oriented realism, offers a fictionalized retelling of Chorn-Pond's youth for older readers. McCormick's version begins when the Khmer Rouge marches into 11-year-old Arn's Cambodian neighborhood and forces everyone into the country. Arn doesn't understand what the Khmer Rouge stands for; he only knows that over the next several years he and the other children shrink away on a handful of rice a day, while the corpses of adults pile ever higher in the mango grove. Arn does what he must to survive—and, wherever possible, to protect a small pocket of children and adults around him. Arn's chilling history pulls no punches, trusting its readers to cope with the reality of children forced to participate in murder, torture, sexual exploitation and genocide. This gut-wrenching tale is marred only by the author's choice to use broken English for both dialogue and description. Chorn-Pond, in real life, has spoken eloquently (and fluently) on the influence he's gained by learning English; this prose diminishes both his struggle and his story.

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers will seek out the history themselves. (preface, author's note) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-173093-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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