DEAD WEIGHT

MURDER AT CAMP BLOOM

Four teens attempt to solve the mystery of a murdered camp counselor.

Latinx Jesse’s family makes her attend Camp Bloom, a summer weight-loss camp, while black Tony is excited to be with his buff role model, Counselor Cory, who is white. Third-year attendee Noah, also white, wants to prioritize his health and lose weight but is unsure whether he can. One night, Jesse sneaks out to procure contraband chocolate. Noah follows her, and both stumble upon Counselor Cory’s murder. Purely by chance, the crime turns out to have been documented on Jesse’s camera. Noah looks for help from Kate (also white), who finds Camp Bloom a safe refuge from homophobia. Kate includes Tony, heartbroken that his mentor is dead, in the investigation. Armed with a list of the camp counselors and a camp map, the foursome decides to find the murderer. Close-ups of the protagonists convey great emotion and are interspersed with more active panels featuring the quartet and other characters. As the teens work through the suspects, another murder occurs, and the young sleuths nearly become victims themselves. Exacting readers may be disappointed by the lack of clues or clear motives for the murders and by the strange ending. Those willing to forgive these shortcomings will find this lighthearted mystery with diverse characters an accessible, if not entirely satisfying, read.

Passable. (Graphic novel. 13-17)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62010-481-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Oni Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking.

I AM NOT STARFIRE

Sixteen-year-old Mandy considers herself the anti-Starfire: Unlike her scantily clad superhero mother, she doesn’t have superpowers, can’t fly, and doesn’t even own a bathing suit.

Mandy dyes her hair and dresses in all black to further call out how different they are. Mandy’s best friend, Lincoln, whose parents were born in Vietnam, insightfully summarizes this rift as being down to an intergenerational divide that occurs whether parents and children come from different countries or different planets. Mandy tries to figure out what kind of future she wants for herself as she struggles with teenage insecurities and bullying, her relationship with her mom, and her budding friendship (or is it something more?) with her new class project partner, Claire. Yoshitani’s vibrant and colorful stylized illustrations beautifully meld the various iterations of Starfire and the Titans with the live-action versions of those characters. Together with Tamaki’s punchy writing, this coming-of-age story of identity, family, friendship, and saving the world is skillfully brought to life in a quick but nuanced read. These layers are most strongly displayed as the story draws parallels between cultural differences between the generations as evidenced in how the characters address bullying, body positivity, fatphobia, fetishization and sexualization, and feminism. This title addresses many important concepts briefly, but well, with great pacing, bold art, and concise and snappy dialogue. The cast is broadly diverse in both primary and secondary characters.

Equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking. (Graphic fantasy. 14-16)

Pub Date: July 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-126-4

Page Count: 184

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

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Hopeful stories about art, activism, friendship, and recovery.

THE PLAIN JANES

From the Janes series , Vol. 1-3

The PLAIN Janes (2007), Janes in Love (2008), and a new entry in the Janes series, Janes Attack Back, released in a single volume.

In the first installment, printed in blue ink, Jane “Main Jane” Beckles was a regular teen until she was caught in a bombing in her city that prompted her parents to move to the suburbs. In her new school, she and her new friends—Jane, Jayne, and Polly Jane—form a guerrilla art group called P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods). The second entry, printed in pink, has the Janes struggling with interpersonal conflict and a lack of funds for art supplies. Jane corresponds with Miroslaw, the Polish stranger whose life—and sketchbook—she saved in the explosion and whom she visited while he recuperated, unconscious, in hospital. Volume 3, which features green ink, picks up as the Janes scatter for summer break with Main Jane traveling to France to visit Miroslaw and attend an art class taught by his girlfriend. The illustrations smoothly integrate different art styles so that readers experience them at the same time Jane does. Upon returning for senior year, Jane meets Payne, a new student who holds radically different views on art. Their push and pull deftly shows how complex relationships can be and how competition can build both stronger art and stronger friendships. Main characters are white. Unfortunately, the word “tribe” remains in these reprints.

Hopeful stories about art, activism, friendship, and recovery. (Graphic fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-52272-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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