A moving testimony to the process of navigating abrupt, painful change—and the life-altering impact of true friendship

HELEN'S BIRDS

This wordless graphic novel is surprisingly direct in its treatment of intergenerational friendship, grief, and hope.

Casson’s four-color illustrations—rendered in colored pencil, Photoshop, and pastel—gently take up Cassidy’s story of a mother and her young child who move into a new neighborhood and befriend an elderly neighbor: Helen. Panels of varying sizes trace the child’s friendship with Helen over what appears to be several years as they play cards, read together, and study the birds that visit Helen’s yard. One night, the child is awakened by sirens and flashing lights, silently conveyed through disorienting, large red circles splashed across the pages. From the window, the child sees Helen being loaded into an ambulance; within two pages, Helen’s house is for sale. The child observes workmen removing Helen’s bird feeder and birdbath before the house itself is demolished, but the child does not appear to process the grief triggered by Helen’s passing until discovering one of their playing cards in the construction rubble. Facing grief seems to empower the child to move forward and carry on Helen’s legacy, tenderly rescuing a bird’s nest from a bush on Helen’s old property. Soon, the neighborhood is bursting with bird song once more. The three main characters, and indeed all others excepting two brown-skinned passersby, have yellow skin that could be read here as white.

A moving testimony to the process of navigating abrupt, painful change—and the life-altering impact of true friendship . (Graphic novel. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77306-038-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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