Full of charm and moxie—don’t let this one roll past.

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ROLLER GIRL

One summer changes everything for two 12-year-old girls whose friendship is tested when their interests—and attitudes—diverge.

Astrid and Nicole have been BFFs truly forever. When the girls go to the roller derby one night, Astrid is immediately hooked and jumps at the chance to attend a roller-derby camp, skating alongside the tough, dyed girls. Nicole, however, who's passionate about ballet, decides not to follow along with Astrid, creating the first real rift the girls have known. The two quickly make new friends in their new circles: Astrid with her roller-derby cohorts and Nicole with the popular ballet crowd. As Astrid navigates the rough-and-tumble sport she’s fallen in love with (and the bumps and bruises that come with it), she must also deal with what happens when friends just stop being friends and grow apart. Jamieson captures this snapshot of preteen angst with a keenly decisive eye, brilliantly juxtaposing the nuances of roller derby with the twists and turns of adolescent girls' friendships. Clean, bright illustrations evince the familiar emotions and bring the pathos to life in a way that text alone could not. Fans of Raina Telgemeier or Jimmy Gownley's Amelia series should certainly skate on over to this gem.

Full of charm and moxie—don’t let this one roll past. (Graphic fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4016-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A breath of fresh air, this tender and dynamic collection is a must-have for any graphic-novel collection.

THE CARDBOARD KINGDOM

Comics creator and illustrator Sell teams up with 10 different authors to create an extraordinary linked anthology, seamlessly interweaving stories of unabashed joy and friendship.

In a suburban neighborhood, an ebulliently diverse group of children gathers with glee to create a vibrant world of pretend play, find themselves, and support one another. In the story written by Katie Schenkel, Sophie feels terrible that people say she’s too loud until she crafts a Hulk-like play identity known as “The Big Banshee.” Manuel Betancourt’s Miguel loves fairy tales and is thrilled when Nate asks him to play in “The Prince”—only to discover he’s actually been cast as the “magical pea” and not the romantic role he’d been dreaming of. Seth pretends to be a superhero to try to protect himself from his dad in Michael Cole’s “The Gargoyle,” while in Sell’s sole authored tale, “The Army of Evil,” Jack identifies as the Sorceress because “She’s what I want to be… / Magical. And powerful. And amazing.” Some neighborhood kids prefer STEM to fantasy while others build businesses; some have trouble making friends while others choose roles on the sidelines. Sell’s cheerful, friendly artistic style, with bold borders and bright colors that unite all the stories, will appeal to fans of Victoria Jamieson. Thoughtful representation provides a true diversity of body shapes and sizes, races and ethnicities (the majority of the cast is kids of color), gender identities and expressions, sexualities, and family structures. Bios of all 11 contributors conclude the book.

A breath of fresh air, this tender and dynamic collection is a must-have for any graphic-novel collection. (Graphic fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1937-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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