Don’t bother trying to explain it to your friends. Just tell them it’s hilarious. (Graphic mystery. 9-14)

A MIDTERM NIGHT'S SCHEME

From the Chicagoland Detective Agency series , Vol. 6

Fans of the Chicagoland Detective Agency series have a problem. With each book, the plot gets more and more difficult to explain.

The science-fair projects at James A. Garfield Middle School include a jet pack and a robot that can bag groceries. The students have built every invention that was ever promised by the World’s Fair or The Jetsons. The graphic novel feels like a mashup of Hanna-Barbera cartoons and science-fiction comics and everything Robbins watched or read when she was growing up. It has a talking dog and a love potion and snippets of haiku. Some of the plot is borrowed, loosely, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as the title suggests: 13-1/2-year-old Megan drinks a potion and falls in love with the talking dog. A few readers will find this creepy, but anyone who grew up on Hanna-Barbera cartoons will think it’s perfectly normal. The author and the artist must have had a ball throwing new complications into the story, and Page has crammed every possible detail into the pictures of the science fair. The story gets more absurd with every page (by the last chapter, a character has turned into a cat), but the book is still a perfectly credible mystery with a very satisfying solution.

Don’t bother trying to explain it to your friends. Just tell them it’s hilarious. (Graphic mystery. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-1499-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

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NEW KID

From the New Kid series , Vol. 1

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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DRAMA

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 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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