Passable.

READ REVIEW

DEAD WEIGHT

MURDER AT CAMP BLOOM

Four teens attempt to solve the mystery of a murdered camp counselor.

Latinx Jesse’s family makes her attend Camp Bloom, a summer weight-loss camp, while black Tony is excited to be with his buff role model, Counselor Cory, who is white. Third-year attendee Noah, also white, wants to prioritize his health and lose weight but is unsure whether he can. One night, Jesse sneaks out to procure contraband chocolate. Noah follows her, and both stumble upon Counselor Cory’s murder. Purely by chance, the crime turns out to have been documented on Jesse’s camera. Noah looks for help from Kate (also white), who finds Camp Bloom a safe refuge from homophobia. Kate includes Tony, heartbroken that his mentor is dead, in the investigation. Armed with a list of the camp counselors and a camp map, the foursome decides to find the murderer. Close-ups of the protagonists convey great emotion and are interspersed with more active panels featuring the quartet and other characters. As the teens work through the suspects, another murder occurs, and the young sleuths nearly become victims themselves. Exacting readers may be disappointed by the lack of clues or clear motives for the murders and by the strange ending. Those willing to forgive these shortcomings will find this lighthearted mystery with diverse characters an accessible, if not entirely satisfying, read.

Passable. (Graphic novel. 13-17)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62010-481-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Oni Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Hopeful stories about art, activism, friendship, and recovery.

THE PLAIN JANES

From the Janes series , Vol. 1-3

The PLAIN Janes (2007), Janes in Love (2008), and a new entry in the Janes series, Janes Attack Back, released in a single volume.

In the first installment, printed in blue ink, Jane “Main Jane” Beckles was a regular teen until she was caught in a bombing in her city that prompted her parents to move to the suburbs. In her new school, she and her new friends—Jane, Jayne, and Polly Jane—form a guerrilla art group called P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods). The second entry, printed in pink, has the Janes struggling with interpersonal conflict and a lack of funds for art supplies. Jane corresponds with Miroslaw, the Polish stranger whose life—and sketchbook—she saved in the explosion and whom she visited while he recuperated, unconscious, in hospital. Volume 3, which features green ink, picks up as the Janes scatter for summer break with Main Jane traveling to France to visit Miroslaw and attend an art class taught by his girlfriend. The illustrations smoothly integrate different art styles so that readers experience them at the same time Jane does. Upon returning for senior year, Jane meets Payne, a new student who holds radically different views on art. Their push and pull deftly shows how complex relationships can be and how competition can build both stronger art and stronger friendships. Main characters are white. Unfortunately, the word “tribe” remains in these reprints.

Hopeful stories about art, activism, friendship, and recovery. (Graphic fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-52272-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Beautifully illustrates how sharing old stories can be the best way to learn how to share new ones.

THE MAGIC FISH

While Tiến is fluent in English, his Vietnamese refugee parents are not, leaving them struggling at times for a shared language.

Tiến’s mom, Hiền, asks him to read aloud the fairy tales he checks out from the library; they both love them, and she can use them to practice English. When Tiến selects “Tattercoats,” his seamstress mother tells him that there is a Vietnamese version that her own mother told her, long ago. As he reads the story of love, longing, and travel across a sea, Hiền is reminded of family she left behind in Vietnam while Tiến tries to navigate his own first love, a boy he is friends with. Le Nguyen’s gorgeous, flowing, detailed illustrations deftly weave Vietnamese and Western fairy-tale worlds together with Hiền’s memory of her past and Tiến’s struggle over coming out. The rich color palette highlights both the layers within each panel as well as serving as a road map for readers by indicating whether the panels are set in the present, the past, or within the fairy tale. This clever use of color smooths the way for the sophisticated embedding of stories within a story that highlights the complex dynamics between first-generation and second-generation family members. Warm, loving family and friends are a refreshing alternative to immigrant stories that focus on family problems.

Beautifully illustrates how sharing old stories can be the best way to learn how to share new ones. (author’s note, notes about the illustrations, bonus artwork) (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12529-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random House Graphic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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