Superpowered fun with depth besides.


One family stands between a city and destruction.

In an alternate future North America, Malcolm has trained to be a Guardian along with the rest of his uniquely superpowered family, the Gravenhursts. They are known as the city’s protectors against the klek, mysterious alien robot adversaries, as well as leaders in technological innovation. Now, on his 15th birthday, Malcolm’s wish is finally coming true, as he is presented to the public at a media event. But Malcolm wants to help people by fighting regular street crime, like the superheroes he idolizes from old comic books. He makes a rare exit from his family’s towering skyscraper and goes on patrol only to find something unexpected: Drew, someone else with powers. Drew introduces him to Blair and Kazue, more superpowered kids; their friend Ibrahim is missing, along with others. Initially thrilled, sheltered Malcolm isn’t expecting to learn from them that people’s powers don’t work outside the city limits and that his family has some connection to these unsettling truths. Arbuthnott revels in some tried-and-true aspects of superhero stories—presenting lots of action, pondering questions of morality, and protecting humanity against alien invaders—making for exhilarating storytelling. But the book goes deeper as Malcolm comes face to face with the limitations of his earlier, limited understanding of crime, policing, and society. Malcolm is White; Drew and Blair have dark skin, Kazue’s name indicates Japanese heritage (she and Blair are girlfriends), and Ibrahim is cued as being of Middle Eastern descent.

Superpowered fun with depth besides. (Science fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2704-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.


From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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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 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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