Miserably fails both the original Alcott classic and, more importantly, readers.

LITTLE WITCHES

MAGIC IN CONCORD

In this new graphic-novel take on Little Women, the March sisters are witches.

When two witch finders move in next door, the March women initially panic. But writer Augustus Laurence and his grandson, Laurie, say they pose no threat—they pursue only witches of the nefarious brand. Meanwhile, crotchety Aunt March insists on training the youngest sister, Amy, in proper witchcraft as her apprentice in exchange for her financial assistance. Jo is quickly distracted from her jealousy by the handsome, charismatic Laurie. When, as in the original story, Marmee departs Concord to visit their father in a Union hospital, the timing couldn’t be worse. Things begin to mysteriously disappear around town: a bolt of silk, a cow, and eventually an actual girl. The March sisters team up with Laurie to get to the bottom of the strange happenings. The witchcraft element isn’t the only departure from the original. Both Laurie and his grandfather are black, and they are not the only townspeople of color; all the Marches are white, however. This story goes awry when Augustus Laurence, a former slave, tells the girls that the reason Africans are slaves in America is because the plantation owners “use magic to keep the slaves tied to them and the land.” This supernatural revisionist history makes mockery of the factual history of kidnapping, brutality, and violence that kept Africans enslaved.

Miserably fails both the original Alcott classic and, more importantly, readers. (Graphic fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62010-553-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Oni Press

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Problem-solving through perseverance and friendship is the real win in this deeply smart and inspiring story.

SWIM TEAM

Leaving Brooklyn behind, Black math-whiz and puzzle lover Bree starts a new life in Florida, where she’ll be tossed into the deep end in more ways than one. Keeping her head above water may be the trickiest puzzle yet.

While her dad is busy working and training in IT, Bree struggles at first to settle into Enith Brigitha Middle School, largely due to the school’s preoccupation with swimming—from the accomplishments of its namesake, a Black Olympian from Curaçao, to its near victory at the state swimming championships. But Bree can’t swim. To illustrate her anxiety around this fact, the graphic novel’s bright colors give way to gray thought bubbles with thick, darkened outlines expressing Bree’s deepest fears and doubts. This poignant visual crowds some panels just as anxious feelings can crowd the thoughts of otherwise star students like Bree. Ultimately, learning to swim turns out to be easy enough with the help of a kind older neighbor—a Black woman with a competitive swimming past of her own as well as a rich and bittersweet understanding of Black Americans’ relationship with swimming—who explains to Bree how racist obstacles of the past can become collective anxiety in the present. To her surprise, Bree, with her newfound water skills, eventually finds herself on the school’s swim team, navigating competition, her anxiety, and new, meaningful relationships.

Problem-solving through perseverance and friendship is the real win in this deeply smart and inspiring story. (Graphic fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-305677-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperAlley

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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This winning paranormal uses witchcraft to explore adolescent rebellion.

THE OKAY WITCH

From the Okay Witch series , Vol. 1

It is Halloween when Moth Hush finds out she is descended from a line of witches.

Her mother reveals the story of their witch origins going back to 17th-century Europe, which Moth’s maternal grandmother, Sarah, fled along with her order for supposed safety in Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, only to find persecution there. Led by Sarah, the witches escaped the wrath of the Puritans through a blood ritual that opened a portal to Hecate, a spiritual realm that provided safety. Moth’s mother rebelled and broke away from the coven to live in the real world, ultimately as a single parent to Moth in the 21st century. After a talking black cat (the spirit of a deceased neighbor) appears and befriends Moth, Moth peeks at her mother’s diary—which opens a portal to Hecate, and Moth secretly begins to practice spells unsupervised and to connect with her family there. Moth and family sort through a complicated lineage whose legacy reveals itself to be very much alive in present-day Founder’s Bluff. In Steinkellner’s graphic panels, Moth and her family have brown skin and puffy dark hair, and the 17th-century coven is shown to be multiracial. The complex history provides a mechanism through which Moth sorts through her own coming-of-age as a modern girl of color, and it’s the loving, oftentimes humorous rapport among the Hush women that grounds this graphic novel.

This winning paranormal uses witchcraft to explore adolescent rebellion. (Graphic fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3146-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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