Superbly written and illustrated; keeps readers breathless and guessing until the end.

LITTLE MONARCHS

A 22nd-century picaresque with nefarious characters, chosen family, unavoidable camping, and lifesaving butterflies.

It’s 2101, and most mammals have died from sun exposure—a fate the few remaining humans suffer if they don’t live underground as Deepers. Some Deepers are friendly; others will take what they can get by any means necessary. Since Elvie’s parents departed for Michoacán, Mexico, 8 years earlier in search of more monarch butterflies, ran into danger, and have not returned, 10-year-old Black science whiz Elvie has been cared for by her guardian, Flora, a White scientist. Flora and Elvie hope to make a vaccine that enables humans to tolerate sunlight. They struggle to find food, and Flora’s awful cooking sometimes makes their foraged food inedible. Elvie’s journals, which contain her homework, science notes, and sketches, trace their journey—including tracking their latitude and longitude daily—as they follow the amazing migration path of the monarchs, whose young have the ingredient necessary for making both the sun sickness antidote and the vaccine. The eclecticism of Case’s lively visuals in this riveting graphic novel will keep readers both enthralled and learning. The book teaches some astronomy, botany, biology, entomology, animal science, knot tying, and more. Elvie’s special relationship with Flora, along with her quick wit, scientific knowledge, and careful observation skills, makes her a character worth following. Yet she’s all kid—and one who badly wants to be reunited with her parents.

Superbly written and illustrated; keeps readers breathless and guessing until the end. (author's note) (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4260-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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