An anything-but-boring introduction to the beautiful mysteries of the universe.

SOLAR SYSTEM

OUR PLACE IN SPACE

From the Science Comics series

Two friends on Earth explore the solar system through an out-of-this-world tale about their space-traveling pets.

Sarah, sick in bed, is thrilled when her friend Jill comes to visit, since after organizing her socks and reading all of her books, she’s gotten pretty bored. To entertain her friend, Jill uses a nonfiction book about the solar system as framework for an adventure story starring their pets. Capt. Riley the dog, Cmdr. Pepper the cat, engineer Fortinbras the hamster, and science officer Slithers the snake are led by an AI named Precise Astronomical Locator (P.A.L. for short) who is obsessed with the game chess. They visit all eight planets, including Earth, and send reports back to Sarah in order to spark her interest and enthusiasm, which translates into the fuel they need to feed their spaceship—EnthusiPlasma! Through a bubbly plot and charming graphic-novel illustrations, author Mosco and illustrator Chad (with colorist Healy) create a world in which learning really is fun and even the faraway Pluto comes within reach. Concepts such as gravity and fusion are clearly explained with help from accompanying diagrams. Dialogue among both humans and animals feels natural, and the illustrations are colorful and vibrant; that Sarah and Jill are both kids of color is another plus. Backmatter includes a glossary and a guide to watching meteor showers.

An anything-but-boring introduction to the beautiful mysteries of the universe. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-141-8

Page Count: 130

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl.

FRIENDS FOREVER

From the Friends series , Vol. 3

Shannon just wants to get through eighth grade in one piece—while feeling like her own worst enemy.

In this third entry in popular author for young people Hale’s graphic memoir series, the young, sensitive overachiever is crushed by expectations: to be cool but loyal to her tightknit and dramatic friend group, a top student but not a nerd, attractive to boys but true to her ideals. As events in Shannon’s life begin to overwhelm her, she works toward finding a way to love and understand herself, follow her passions for theater and writing, and ignore her cruel inner voice. Capturing the visceral embarrassments of middle school in 1987 Salt Lake City, Shannon’s emotions are vivid and often excruciating. In particular, the social norms of a church-oriented family are clearly addressed, and religion is shown as being both a comfort and a struggle for Shannon. While the text is sometimes in danger of spelling things out a little too neatly and obviously, the emotional honesty and sincerity drawn from Hale’s own life win out. Pham’s artwork is vibrant and appealing, with stylistic changes for Shannon’s imaginings and the leeching out of color and use of creative panel structures as her anxiety and depression worsen.

A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl. (author's note, gallery) (Graphic memoir. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-31755-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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