This beautifully absurd, sometimes maddening comic book gives new meaning to “Can’t we all just get along?” (Graphic science...

THE SEVENTH VOYAGE

STAR DIARIES

This time-travel story poses a philosophical question: If you could meet yourself, would the two of you get along?

In this graphic adaptation of Lem’s 1957 short story (first published in English in 1976), a solo astronaut named Ijon Tichy is stuck in a time loop, and he keeps meeting past and future versions of himself. But rather than helping one another out, the multiple versions keep squabbling endlessly, for so long that, eventually, there are elderly Tichys onboard the ship. The many arguments make the story—almost by definition—a little repetitive, but they give Muth an excuse to paint dozens of hilariously baffled, nearly identical (all white) people in matching jumpsuits. For a story with only one character, the panels are surprisingly crowded. His artwork is as expressive as usual, but he’s adopted a different style from the one so recognizable in his Zen Shorts picture books, not quite realistic, not quite cartoonish. It’s almost as though he created a new, constantly befuddled species just for the book. The central joke is strung out a bit too long, and the introduction, written by A. Fraude on April 1, is mildly amusing but feels like padding. The solution to Tichy’s problem, though, when it finally arrives, is poetic, funny, and rather sweet.

This beautifully absurd, sometimes maddening comic book gives new meaning to “Can’t we all just get along?” (Graphic science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-00462-6

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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