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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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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Lively, engaging, perfectly pitched tween drama.

ENEMIES

From the Berrybrook Middle School series , Vol. 5

In this latest addition to the Berrybrook Middle School series, a girl enters a school contest for the wrong reasons—with mixed results.

Felicity Teale loves art, writing, and cosplay; she is less keen on school. In contrast to her organized, punctual, science-award–winning younger sister, Letty, Felicity has serious gaming and drawing skills but fails to complete projects. In elementary school, Felicity, who is Black, was close friends with Korean American Joseph Koh, but their middle school relationship has been complicated since super outgoing Felicity tried to pressure Joseph to socialize more. To prove to Letty that she can complete and win something, Felicity enters an entrepreneur club contest with a $1,000 prize. But Joseph also enters, partnering with someone from their gaming group and shutting Felicity out. Obsessed with winning, Felicity nixes her partner Tess’ suggestions and rejects Letty’s offer of help with the business plan. Although Felicity and Tess come up with a great idea, they fail to complete the submission on time, and Felicity’s behavior alienates Joseph and offends Tess. Felicity’s humorous, colloquial, first-person narration rings true, from her passion for gaming to her sibling rivalry to her volatile middle school relationships. With its use of emphatic text, exaggerated gestures and facial expressions, a muted color palette, and rapidly changing visual perspectives, the graphic format proves ideal for anime fan Felicity’s tale of self-acceptance, friendship, and family.

Lively, engaging, perfectly pitched tween drama. (Graphic novel. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-975312-79-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: JY

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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