THE WITCH'S HAND

From the Montague Twins series , Vol. 1

An adventure set in a New England town in the summer of 1969, a time period well referenced in the art and text.

Twin brothers Alastair and Peter Montague are surprised when their summer activities move from rescuing the dog of Roger Bradford—business mogul and descendant of Port Howl’s colonial founders—to becoming embroiled in a mystery packed with action, suspense, and magic. The boys live with David, a professor; his truck-driver wife, Shelly; and the couple’s daughter, Charlie. After harrowing experiences involving a decrepit lighthouse and a robed, hooded figure with a clawlike hand, the three teenagers are determined to figure out what evil is lurking below the surface of Port Howl. When David learns what they are up to, he enlists his protégé, Rowan, to help him reveal to the twins their unusual history—and to teach them and Charlie how to use magic responsibly. Meanwhile, Bradford’s daughter, Rachel, engages two friends in scrying—with scary results. The full-color illustrations in nostalgic tones evoke classic comic book art. The artwork is emotionally expressive, enhancing the characterization. Humor and character development abound along with thoughtful musings as the novel skillfully entwines its subplots into a tale that ties up every loose end by the time the United States has had its first successful moon landing. One character’s coming out is handled sensitively. Main characters are white; Rowan and a secondary character present as people of color.

Riveting. (Graphic mystery. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-64676-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Painfully important.

I AM ALFONSO JONES

From the afterlife, black teenager Alfonso Jones, a 15-year-old victim of police brutality, watches the effect his murder has on his loved ones and community.

The first page is dedicated to the image of a sole speeding bullet, which catches up to fleeing Alfonso on Page 2 in a powerful, heart-rending image. The next few chapters flash back to Alfonso’s life: biking around Harlem, spending time with his mom, and joyfully learning his wrongfully convicted father will be released from prison. Narrator Alfonso chronicles his fondness for playing trumpet, acting, and his fellow thespian Danetta. As the pair shop for a suit for Alfonso to wear to his father’s release, Alfonso is murdered by a white off-duty police officer. Afterward, Alfonso finds himself on a subway with strangers who turn out to be ancestors: all are unable to find peace when there is no justice. There are no pat solutions here, and readers are left to wonder if Alfonso will ever leave the ghost train. One of the final pages includes images of real victims of police brutality, and the book closes with a vigil for Alfonso. Some of the most profound truths come from Alfonso’s grieving survivors. “We’re not going to let you make a circus of our pain. Our black misery is not for your white amusement!” declares his mother; his grandfather reminds readers, “Too many of our people are getting vacuumed into the prison industry, or killed for no rational reason whatsoever but the skin they’re living in….”

Painfully important. (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62014-263-9

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Tu Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Shakespeare’s fantastical dream in an appealing format that can be shared with a wider audience.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

From the Manga Classics series

Manga that brings to life Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy.

This third entry in Manga Classics’ adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays maintains their practice of reproducing the full text of the original. The black-and-white illustrations allow readers to easily follow the plot while also picking up on subtle themes that are significant to understanding the play. For example, the abundant imagery surrounding the moon is emphasized by the moon’s presence in the backgrounds of many panels throughout the book, drawing readers’ attention. Long dialogues are also explained visually, which allows young readers to grasp what is being discussed without the need for a glossary or translation into modern English. The nobility is portrayed in a typical manga fashion with large eyes, small noses, and well-defined ears—but with appropriate Grecian clothing—while the commoners are easily visually distinguishable from them in style. The guide to reading manga at the beginning unfortunately describes the right-to-left reading order as “backwards from the normal books you know,” a strangely judgment-laden description for a book using manga to broaden the cultural exposure of young readers. However, the creators’ notes at the end offer fascinating insights into the adaptation process and may inspire budding manga artists to attempt their own works.

Shakespeare’s fantastical dream in an appealing format that can be shared with a wider audience. (cast, creators’ notes, character design sheet) (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947808-10-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Manga Classics

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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