HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY AND NEVER BE FOUND

In this spookily surreal adventure yarn with a cherry-on-top ending, two oddball loners on separate quests team up to solve a mystery embedded in the past. Ever since her father drowned four years ago, Margaret, now 12, has longed for information about his death. But her uncommunicative, deeply depressed mother refuses to discuss it, and Margaret’s curiosity remains unsated. This all changes when, on a journey to the decrepit island house her father grew up in, she finds a package addressed to her mother but returned unopened. Inside is the first volume of a handwritten comic book titled Ratt, as well as her father’s swimming medal and a key. Convinced that the package is somehow related to the mystery of her father’s death, Margaret journeys to the seemingly abandoned house to investigate, and the plot, which had been slowly heating up, finally begins to cook. On the island, Margaret gets involved with Boyd, a friendless outcast who gains hope and heart from “the wonderful, terrible and truly amazing world of the Ratt,” now a multi-volume saga that chronicles the exploits of its strange hero, a “half man, half rodent who called himself Ratt.” In the eerie and unexpectedly hair-raising adventure that follows, Margaret and Boyd learn how Margaret’s father died and discover the surprising identity of the Ratt. There’s a lot going on in this multifaceted novel, and some of it is impossible to buy, even within the story’s otherworldly comic book–like perimeters. Still, engrossing, thematically rich, and atmospheric. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-029771-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

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NEW KID

From the New Kid series , Vol. 1

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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