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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A rather unsatisfying graphic novel, sure to disappoint fans of Ellis’ book.

THE BREADWINNER

A GRAPHIC NOVEL

A graphic-novel adaptation of Ellis’ heartwarming story of Parvana, a young girl in Afghanistan who cuts her hair and dresses as a boy to earn money for her family when her father is imprisoned by the Taliban.

Adding a layer of remove from the original, this graphic novel is an adaptation of the upcoming film version, and it varies significantly from the original book. Notable deviations include the absence of helpful Mrs. Weera, who provides so much support to Parvana and her family in the original book, and two new details: a grudging former student who tattles on Parvana’s father and Parvana’s solo visit to rescue her imprisoned father. Much story is lost as a result of the numerous deviations, which also sadly promote Western views of Afghanistan, such as rampant corruption and violent men. Even as a stand-alone title for readers not familiar with the book, the storyline is bumpy, moving in fits and starts. At one point, Parvana’s mother decides to abandon Parvana and leave for the neighboring village but then changes her mind midway. Another disappointment is the book cover, which shows Parvana selling chai, something she does not do in either story (although her friend does). The only redeeming factor is the beautiful artwork, stills from the film, with its vivid use of colors to display context, such as use of red for war and black for the Taliban rule.

A rather unsatisfying graphic novel, sure to disappoint fans of Ellis’ book. (Graphic historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77306-118-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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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