A nearly wordless tale, billed as “Level One” but probably with a more natural audience among teens or adults, centers on a long chase after a fugitive broken heart.

The departure of her best friend in a rocket ship leaves Penelope—depicted in the geometrical, silkscreen-style art with a human body and the head and tail of a fox—sitting beside the sea with her cracked heart in her lap. When that heart slips into the water and is carried away by dolphins, birds, a paper airplane and other agents, she pursues it, picking up a chicken-headed, cartwheeling companion she has met along the way. Penelope finds it at last in a “garden of lost things” but then sacrifices it to rescue her new friend from a toothy monster. In return, her new friend presents her with an egg that cracks open in the final scene to reveal an unmarked replacement heart. Sound effects and short lines of dialogue in the large sequential panels won’t help younger readers make sense of either the characters or the sketchy storyline. A metaphorical journey toward healing from traumatic loss inspired, writes Rowe, by the death of her cat—not, as the cover protests, a “first comic for brand-new readers!” (Graphic picture book. 13 & up)


Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-9351-7959-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: TOON/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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Forget the capes and tights: this is an entirely accessible and richly imagined superhero tour de force.


From the Battling Boy series

A teenage superheroine vows to destroy the monster that killed her mother but discovers vengeance doesn’t come without dire consequences.

Following The Rise of Aurora West (2014), Aurora and her notorious superhero father are still haunted by the long-unsolved murder of her mother by a nefarious seven-fingered monster. Determined to solve the mystery herself, Aurora also yearns to break free from the shadow of her famous father. Venturing out alone, she stalks a fiendish syndicate of masked monsters that has been terrorizing her home, Arcopolis. Through her unrelenting search, she discovers a shocking truth—could she have played a role in her mother's murder? Now imbued with her newfound dangerous knowledge, Aurora must make a decision that could not only save her family, but the city at large. Rubín's frenetic black-and-white illustrations stylistically complement Pope and Petty's breakneck-paced plotting. True to the genre, the story explores notions of good and evil but provides no easy answers. Aurora is a powerful heroine who is refreshingly free of sexualized buxom stylings, instead relying on her intelligence and strength. This is a must-read for readers tired of traditional superheroes with endlessly shifting storylines and vast back stories. With their wholly original worldbuilding and cinematically explosive pace, Pope and Petty have created a strong female protagonist that should easily appeal to both genders.

Forget the capes and tights: this is an entirely accessible and richly imagined superhero tour de force. (Graphic adventure. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62672-010-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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Opening episodes of a comic-book series created by an American teacher in Japan take a leap into chapter-book format, with only partial success. Resembling—in occasional illustrations—a button-eyed, juvenile Olive Oyl, Akiko, 10, is persuaded by a pair of aliens named Bip and Bop to climb out her high-rise bedroom’s window for a trip to M&M-shaped Planet Smoo, where Prince Fropstoppit has been kidnapped by widely feared villainness Alia Rellaport. Along with an assortment of contentious sidekicks, including brainy Mr. Beeba, Akiko battles Sky Pirates and video-game-style monsters in prolonged scenes of cartoony violence, displaying resilience, courage, and leadership ability, but not getting very far in her rescue attempt; in fact, the story cuts off so abruptly, with so little of the quest completed, and at a lull in the action to boot, that readers expecting a self-contained (forget complete) story are likely to feel cheated. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-32724-2

Page Count: 162

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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