Brilliant.

READ REVIEW

POWER TO THE PRINCESS

Well-known fairy tales get modern makeovers in this socially conscious compilation.

When Murrow heard these misunderstood princesses’ stories firsthand, she explains in a playful introductory note, she discovered that “a princess is a person who seeks to help others” and “is open to learning new things.” Belle the Brave is a fearless girl who goes after her father because she is good at climbing trees and jumping off ledges. She becomes a police officer with a specialty in restorative justice and is called Beauty because she can see the beauty in others. The Little Mermaid is determined to visit the land of the humans to find a way to keep the oceans clean. She meets a young woman with a similar vision, and after some time working together toward their common cause, the two marry. Rapunzel is a brilliant builder, and she doesn’t let the Prince up the tower without first finding out who he is and what he wants (which is to learn more about her inventive designs). She becomes an architect and helps make the kingdom more accessible to people who are visually impaired, like the Prince. About half of the princesses appear to be of color, with varying skin tones and eye shapes. Combining real-life, meaningful work with the trappings of kingdoms and fairy tales, this volume is a treasure for readers who are tired of traditional helpless princesses who fall in love instantly and “live happily ever after.”

Brilliant. (Fantasy. 6-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78603-203-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A warm coming-of-age story populated with a cast of memorable characters.

NAKED MOLE RAT SAVES THE WORLD

Kit and Clem are best friends, and both are dealing with life-changing adversity.

Kit is tiny and afflicted with both alopecia universalis (a complete lack of hair that strangers interpret as a result of chemotherapy) and a dysfunctional mother who named her “kit”—not Kit—as a reminder to herself to “keep it together.” Clem, a member of her Latinx family’s acrobatic team, is badly injured during a televised performance. Once she’s recovered from the worst of her injuries, Clem endures her distress by taking on an angry goth identity that contrasts sharply with her previous image. Meanwhile, kit, who is white, copes with anxiety (mostly caused by her mother) by turning into a naked mole rat (the ugly animal her mother often compares her to) and scurrying for cover—or so she believes. The girls’ stories are presented in third-person chapters that seamlessly alternate, not only providing an intimate view of each character’s largely hidden despair, but also revealing their bemused, mostly concealed judgments of each other, as their coping mechanisms serve to drive them apart. A rich cast of secondary characters enhances the tale, including kit’s mom’s somewhat witchy helper and the young teens’ former friend, a kindly boy who has many problems of his own. An author’s note explores anxiety disorder.

A warm coming-of-age story populated with a cast of memorable characters. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61620-724-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Superb. (Graphic short-story anthology. 7-12)

EXPLORER

THE MYSTERY BOXES

An outstanding out-of-the box anthology from renowned comics veteran Kibuishi.

Kibuishi’s Flight series for adults (collected in Flight, 2011), spurred a spin-off, Flight Explorer (2008), a volume specifically written for a younger audience. Both anthologies were strong on art but held no cohesive theme; this volume preserves the strong artistic stylization of its predecessors, but also employs a unifying theme—"what’s in the box"—throughout the slick and imaginative collection. The seven tales, from artists both established and up-and-coming, span the spectrum from a serious and moralistic tale of war and vengeance in “The Soldier’s Daughter” to seriously silly and fun alien hijinks in "Whatzit" to a dark and creepy yarn about doll that comes alive with a sinister purpose in "Under the Floorboards" to the light and sweet "Spring Cleaning," replete with wizards and reunited love. This volume eloquently demonstrates how well short stories work in the comics medium and Kibuishi's masterful chops as an editor. By cleverly applying the thematic catalyst to an already-winning formula, Kibuishi deftly fends off staleness. With eye-popping full-color art and palettes ranging from candy-colored to ethereal earth tones, this is both a visual feast for the eyes and a healthy helping of thought for the soul.

Superb. (Graphic short-story anthology. 7-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0010-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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