A thought-provoking work that is not to be missed.

FISH GIRL

Napoli and Wiesner transport readers under the sea, introducing them to a modern-day heroine who longs to be part of their world.

In this riveting graphic novel adaptation of the famous Andersen fairy tale, the nameless mermaid character is part of an aquatic exhibit run by a man who plays the part of Neptune the sea god. Napoli and Wiesner use the form’s sparse dialogue to deftly reimagine the fairy tale’s essential elements, from the heartbreaking divide between land and sea to the indomitable heroine who is willing to risk everything to cross that barrier and follow her heart—in this case, catalyzed by her growing friendship with a human girl who visits her regularly in the aquarium. The shrewd interpretation of the tale’s sexual politics is its most striking feature. The mermaid becomes an Everygirl who discovers that her identity and personhood are subordinated to a man whose sinister charm barely conceals his marginalizing view of her as profitable merchandise. Given current events, the image of a falsely benevolent Neptune who systematically chips away at the mermaid’s self-worth feels eerily apt, rendering the mermaid’s desire for a life on land all the more poignant. Wiesner’s artwork aptly conveys the narrative’s tone, but the muted color palette makes his illustrations feel oddly inert. The mermaid, her human friend, and Neptune all have fair skin.

A thought-provoking work that is not to be missed. (Graphic fantasy. 10-16)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-81512-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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Action-filled and engaging but considerate of both topic and audience, Ebo’s story effectively paints a picture of a child...

ILLEGAL

Ebo is known across his village for his beautiful singing voice, but will his voice keep him safe in his journey to the shores of Europe?

Readers follow the flight of Ebo, a Ghanaian refugee child, to Europe to find the siblings who fled before him. Ebo’s journey takes him across the scorching heat of the Sahara and through the streets of Tripoli, where he works to raise funds for passage across the Mediterranean. All the while, Ebo and the companions he meets along the way must elude the watchful eyes of the authorities who are constantly on alert for refugees. But after Ebo finally saves enough money and secures a seat on a boat crossing to Greece, he finds himself on the brink of death. Like all the others, it is too crowded; the engine is broken; and the fuel is slowly running out. Authors and illustrator take readers back and forth through time, building suspense as Ebo’s story of survival unfolds. The format allows sensitive and difficult topics such as murder, death, and horrific, traumatizing conditions to unfold for children, Ebo’s reactions speaking volumes and dramatic perspectives giving a sense of scope. A creators’ note provides factual context, and an appendix offers an Eritrean refugee’s minimemoir in graphic form.

Action-filled and engaging but considerate of both topic and audience, Ebo’s story effectively paints a picture of a child refugee’s struggle in a world crisscrossed by hostile borders. (Graphic fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6214-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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