A disturbing but, considering the storyline, entirely justified interpretation.

THE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER

Relief-print illustrations in red and black give this retelling of Andersen’s unhappy love story between a one-legged tin soldier and a ballerina doll a particularly dark edge.

Yoon makes only minor changes to Andersen’s narrative, but her choices for color and imagery add naturalistic, even brutal notes. These are highlighted by the soldier’s encounters with a nightmarish jack-in-the-box “troll” and a huge, vicious sewer rat, followed by his later rediscovery amid the guts and gore of a fish being chopped up for the stew pot. Mirroring the soldier, the ballerina, frozen in midpirouette, is angled throughout so that only one leg is visible. Yoon’s figures are all flat, with fixed eyes and mottled surfaces. The deep black and vivid red color scheme casts a perfervid glare over jumbled settings and piles of antique toys (including, anachronistically, a retro-style robot) and looks particularly hellish in the depiction of the flames in which the lovers are climactically united…for an instant. Or maybe that’s supposed to be the consuming flames of love? This is not recommended for bedtime reading.

A disturbing but, considering the storyline, entirely justified interpretation. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59270-202-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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Perhaps the captain’s next outing will find all its elements in better sync.

CAPTAIN COCONUT AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING BANANAS

From the Captain Coconut series , Vol. 1

Part clever Sherlock Holmes, part bumbling Maxwell Smart, the turbaned Capt. Coconut is a new detective on the scene.

He sets out to solve a case involving the three members of an Indian household: Mrs. Y, her sister, and her nephew, Gilli. Mrs. Y bought 14 bananas, but some are missing. She can account for four—they were eaten—but only six can still be found. After using his calculator to perform the simple mathematical task involved, the detective quickly realizes how many are gone, but the determined sleuth must still find the perpetrator. References, visual and verbal, to Bollywood musical interludes and vaudeville slapstick (remember banana peels) spice up the action, but the math is not complex enough for readers who have the sophistication to enjoy the dry wit and the unusual collage panels of this short graphic novel. The foolish detective, with his round belly sticking out of his safari suit and his red knee socks matching his red paisley nose, can’t open his office door or start his scooter, but of course he does finally solve the mystery. Suffice it to say, an unpleasant stomach ailment provides a clue. Creative readers can provide their own tunes for the three original songs, and the digital collages are filled with zany retro details.

Perhaps the captain’s next outing will find all its elements in better sync. (Graphic mystery. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-93-83145-22-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Tara Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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This effervescent package opens to reveal plenty of wisdom.

WRITTEN AND DRAWN BY HENRIETTA

Argentine cartoonist Liniers presents a graphic ode to the pleasures and challenges of composition, starring his recurring character Henrietta, a young bibliophile.

The little girl's cat, Fellini, looks on as she writes and illustrates "The Monster with Three Heads and Two Hats." Page by page, she narrates her process, her own story appearing in a childlike, colored-pencil scrawl alongside Liniers' polished panels. "In a good story, there's always something that happens 'suddenly'!" she informs Fellini as a hand emerges from a wardrobe into her protagonist's nighttime bedroom. Henrietta and her creator are kindred spirits, displaying equal knacks for the surreal and the utterly charming. "The wardrobe was made in Narnia," she explains to Fellini as she propels protagonist and monster into it, where they discover an inscrutable mouse, a hat for the monster's bare head, and another monster. Liniers covers the importance of judiciously placed punctuation ("those three little dots really add... / ...SUSPENSE!") and research (a trip to the encyclopedia yields a bonanza of hat styles, all depicted) as well as the excitement of creation: "I'm drawing really fast 'cause I want to see what happens next." If the final joke comes at Henrietta's expense ("let's go look for a publisher," she declares at "THE END"), it does so gently and with collegiality. A Spanish-language edition, Escrito y Dibujado por Enriqueta, publishes simultaneously.

This effervescent package opens to reveal plenty of wisdom. (Graphic early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-935179-90-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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