Despite the frustrating lack of conclusion, the friendly art and nifty concept will leave readers eager for the next book,...

SECRET CODERS

From the Secret Coders series , Vol. 1

Hopper’s first day at Stately Academy goes terribly until her “7”-shaped earrings trigger a code in a robot bird, commanding it to display three eyes.

Classmate Eni, whose father is a software engineer, kindly explains the controlling binary code to Hopper. The user-friendly explanation takes advantage of the graphic-novel format, providing a visual alongside the narrative description. The plot makes manipulating binary a game, inviting readers to decode number sequences alongside the characters. When they decode a combination lock on a shed, Hopper and Eni enter it (against the wishes of the villainous, crotchety, old janitor) and uncover its secret content—an adorable robot programmed to clean the sidewalks. This programming too is thoroughly explained visually, then put to an unorthodox application against some kids who bully Hopper. Other villains include an over-the-top creepy visitor to the school making a mysterious demand of the principal and the student-hating principal himself. The school’s coded secrets that the protagonists unravel lead to a showdown that goes straight for cliffhanger without a hint of resolution—right when the story feels like it’s just getting going. Worse, the abbreviated story leaves little room for characterization other than introducing Hopper’s family background as conflict to be addressed in a later installment. Hopper is Asian-American, and Eni appears to be African-American.

Despite the frustrating lack of conclusion, the friendly art and nifty concept will leave readers eager for the next book, which should be able to get off to a rocketing start. (Graphic mystery. 8-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62672-276-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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