Between the creativity-encouraging coding lessons and the character-driven plotlines, this sequel charms from PenDown to...

PATHS & PORTALS

From the Secret Coders series , Vol. 2

Following Secret Coders (2015), Hopper, Josh, and Eni unlock more of Stately Academy’s secrets—but they learn they aren’t the only ones doing so.

Starting off right at the cliffhanger from the previous book, the multicultural protagonists—Asian-American Hopper, African-American Eni, and racially indeterminate Josh—must code their way out of custodian Mr. Bee’s challenge. Through teamwork and trial and error, they succeed, and Mr. Bee gives them a secret history of the secret, abandoned Bee School beneath Stately. After an efficient rundown on the programming language Logo, he shows the kids the artistic possibilities of code, a lesson promptly used by Hopper to cheat on her Chinese homework. She’s found out, but trash duty with Mr. Bee is an ineffectual punishment now that it has become programming with Professor Bee, and even Josh misbehaves his way into joining. With this second volume, character development comes to the fore, and a central interpersonal storyline finds the three unifying into a trio. Helping to resolve the simmering conflict between Hopper and Josh are encounters with rugby team bullies, who walk a line between comical and intimidating in a way that serves tone while maintaining tension. Holmes’ green, gray, and white panels convey characterization, action, and coding principles with equal ease.

Between the creativity-encouraging coding lessons and the character-driven plotlines, this sequel charms from PenDown to PenUp. (Graphic fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62672-340-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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All in all, a sweet summer camp story about friendship in a multicultural setting.

CAMP

From the Click series , Vol. 2

Summer camp tests the bond between best friends in this new graphic novel.

Olive and Willow are besties who are lucky enough to go to summer camp together at Acorn Lake; they even share a bunk bed in their cabin. Initially, they are inseparable, always together during camp activities. Right away, Willow begins to become anxious and homesick, while Olive is enjoying the ride and making friends. Willow doesn’t like the food, she doesn’t want to join in with most of the activities, and she wants Olive by her side at all times. At first, Olive feels obligated to take care of Willow and stays close by, but inevitably, the two get into a fight and spend the next couple of days apart. But eventually Willow begins to make new friends, joining a newly formed band with the other kids, and she and Olive slowly find their ways back to each other. The emotional beats are believable, and Olive and Willow are well-enough developed that readers will sympathize with them both. Miller illustrates a very culturally diverse group of campers, representing different races and a range of gender expressions. Though the races of the protagonists aren’t specified, both are light-skinned, Olive with dark hair and Willow with blonde.

All in all, a sweet summer camp story about friendship in a multicultural setting. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-53081-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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