This solid addition to the series should please fans and newcomers alike.

THE MIDWINTER WITCH

Will Aster, accepted as a witch by his immediate family, find that approval with his extended family? And does Ariel, welcomed into the Vanissen fold, even want a family?

As the ward of the Vanissen family, Ariel’s now being trained in witchcraft, and in a world in which magic is passed down and learned within families, this should be a wonderful thing. But orphaned Ariel chafes against magical traditions and the emphasis on family, a response that appears to be the result of her understandable fear of abandonment and intimacy. Added to this are nightly dream visitations from a woman named Isabel Torres. Claiming to be her aunt, Isabel plants doubts about the Vanissens’ acceptance and feeds Ariel’s anti-traditionalist leanings. Meanwhile, the Midwinter Festival—an annual magical extended family reunion—is coming, and Aster wants to compete in the Jolrun for the title of Midwinter Witch. As the first boy to openly study witchcraft, he’ll be the first boy to compete. The Vanissens, Ariel, and nonmagical friend Charlie attend, but a surprise at the Jolrun causes conflict. Ostertag’s signature bold, clear, thick-lined illustrations are at work here, as are her fascinating magical world-within-a-world worldbuilding and thoughtfully inclusive approach to LGBTQ and racial representation. Aster is biracial, with a white mom and brown-skinned dad, Ariel has olive skin and dark hair, and Charlie is black, with two black dads.

This solid addition to the series should please fans and newcomers alike. (Graphic fantasy. 8-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-54055-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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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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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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