Powerful storytelling based on documented experiences; despite being set in 2002, it’s as relevant as ever since the LRA is...

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WAR BROTHERS

THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

A graphic format adds heart-rending images to McKay’s violent 2008 tale of children kidnapped and forced to become soldiers in Uganda.

The book opens with an awareness-raising letter to readers from teen protagonist Kitina Jacob and a brutal preview to set the stage. The tale then takes him and schoolmates Tony, Paul and Norman into a sudden nightmare when soldiers of the Lord’s Resistance Army burst into their dormitory. After weeks of forced marches, vicious beatings and atrocities designed to turn them into uncaring killers, the captives escape with help from mutilated campmate Hannah and others—profoundly scarred but, ultimately, resilient enough to take back their lives. Switching from white to black borders between his panels during the time of captivity to intensify the atmosphere of terror, Lafrance puts shadows or at least a little visual distance between viewers and violent acts. Wrenchingly, though, he ramps up the immediacy and emotional intensity by cutting again and again to the wide-eyed, tear-stained faces of children forced to do or to witness those acts.

Powerful storytelling based on documented experiences; despite being set in 2002, it’s as relevant as ever since the LRA is still all-too-active. (afterword) (Graphic historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55451-489-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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A first-rate visual reframing: sensitive, artistically brilliant, and as charged as its enigmatic predecessor with profound...

THE GIVER

From the Giver Quartet series

An eerie graphic version of the Newbery Award–winning classic.

Russell (Murder Mysteries and Other Stories, 2015, etc.) pays no more attention than Lowry (Looking Back, 2016, etc.) did to continuity of detail or to justifying the counterintuitive notion that memories can be shed by transmitting them, but without taking significant liberties he skillfully captures the original’s full, creeping horror. By depicting human figures with uncommonly precise realism, bearing calm, smiling demeanors and moving through tidy 1950s style settings, he establishes an almost trite air of utopian normality at the outset…then proceeds to undermine it with disquieting (to say the least) incidents capped by an explicit view of Jonas’ serene dad “releasing” a supernumerary newborn by ramming a hypodermic into its head. He also neatly solves the color issue by composing his many small sequential scenes in blue pencil outlines with occasional pale washes—which makes Jonas’ disturbing ability to “see beyond,” from the red in an apple and a classmate’s hair to the garish orange memories the Giver downloads to his brain, startlingly vivid and presages the polychrome wilderness into which he ultimately vanishes. Jonas and the rest of the cast are uniformly light-skinned and generically European of feature, but that is explicitly established as part of the hideous scenario.

A first-rate visual reframing: sensitive, artistically brilliant, and as charged as its enigmatic predecessor with profound challenges to mind and heart. (interviews with the creators) (Graphic dystopian fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-544-15788-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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A blunt, effective record of the refugee crisis that’s wounding the Americas.

MANUELITO

Fleeing from violence at home, 13-year-old Manuelito braves the journey through Mexico to the United States.

As the repercussions of war fade away, Manuelito’s Guatemalan village returns to normality. School resumes (even though Manuelito finds it tedious), and he finds plenty of time to play with friends, including Coco Loco. Suddenly, a new kind of war commences. Menacing, armed groups begin to disrupt village life: the PACs (Armed Civil Patrol); the maras, gangs of tattooed men; and government soldiers. To avoid gang recruitment or death, Manuelito’s parents send him off to Tía Adela, who resides in the U.S. Joined by Coco Loco, Manuelito arrives in Mexico following a river crossing only to fall prey to the Coyote. Setbacks bombard the young boy, but he eventually crosses the Río Bravo into the U.S., where he surrenders himself to Border Patrol as an asylum seeker. Just as Manuelito begins anew in the U.S., the arrival of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement derails his life yet again. An undercurrent of tragic inevitability in the text lends urgency to Manuelito’s narration, which delineates the circumstances of his escape without wallowing in sentimentality. The author’s preference for universal appeal posits Manuelito as a symbol of child refugees; as a result, the novel loses that extra spark that would make this story more memorable. Meanwhile, the stark, colorless illustrations hint at grueling ordeals.

A blunt, effective record of the refugee crisis that’s wounding the Americas. (afterword) (Graphic novel. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77321-266-1

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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