Category Archives: Graphic Novel

The Wendy Project by Melissa Jane Osborne

The Wendy Project by Melissa Jane Osborne. July 18, 2017. Super Genius, 98 p. ISBN: 9781545805275.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

16-year-old Wendy Davies crashes her car into a lake on a late summer night in New England with her two younger brothers in the backseat. When she wakes in the hospital, she is told that her youngest brother, Michael, is dead. Wendy — a once rational teenager – shocks her family by insisting that Michael is alive and in the custody of a mysterious flying boy. Placed in a new school, Wendy negotiates fantasy and reality as students and adults around her resemble characters from Neverland. Given a sketchbook by her therapist, Wendy starts to draw. But is The Wendy Project merely her safe space, or a portal between worlds?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Drugs, Underage drinking, Attempted suicide

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (May 1, 2017)
In this heart-wrenching graphic novel, a teen girl responsible for her younger brother’s death must decide to accept the harsh reality or lose herself in escapist denial. One fateful evening, Wendy Davies’ car goes off the road. Her brothers, John and Michael, were inside, and Michael doesn’t survive the wreck. After the crash, Wendy is sent to therapy to help her process her feelings and is instructed to draw her emotions. She envisions that Peter Pan has taken Michael to Neverland and begins seeing parallels in her everyday life. As Wendy becomes more enmeshed in her reveries, her grasp on reality becomes ever more tenuous. Will she be able to leave her daydreams behind and see the accident for what it was? Through a dreamlike and elegiac lens, Osborne and Fish conjure a visually striking portrait of mourning and acceptance. Wendy’s reality is evinced through black-and-white sketches, transitioning to a glorious wash of watercolors when her imagination takes over. While undeniably breathtaking in its style, the narrative of this slender volume occasionally falters. Its secondary characters—such as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell and their real-world counterparts—are intriguing but not as well developed as Wendy, and though Wendy’s plight is moving, it resolves itself a bit too tidily. However, readers should easily overcome these quibbles due to the sheer emotional impact of this beautifully tragic story and its gravitas. An ethereal and haunting exploration of grief and death. (Graphic fiction. 12-adult)

Library Journal – web only (November 18, 2016)
Here, Peter Pan’s Wendy Darling is reimagined as a 16-year-old who survives a car accident that renders one of her brothers mute and the other missing. Is that brother’s body lost to the watery crash site, or did Wendy really see him fly away with a mysterious figure? As Wendy struggles at a new high school, the people in her life begin to resemble Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and other J.M. Barrie characters. Wendy’s therapist prescribes drawing in a sketchbook as a coping mechanism, but the journal takes on a life of its own, one that may let Wendy shape her circumstances in more ways than one. Osborne sensitively scripts this tragic scenario-which has an especially satisfying conclusion-and Fish’s (Archie Comics) well-matched artwork often fittingly resembles that of a talented teenager, with color skillfully used to denote Wendy’s visions intruding into reality. Verdict This unexpected gem stands out among latter-day versions of Peter Pan thanks to its embrace of genuine emotion and psychological gravity. Highly recommended to all graphic novel and fantasy fans, and especially to YA readers. Some disturbing content; suitable for all but the youngest.-J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB

About the Author

Melissa Jane Osborne is an actor and writer who has worked with Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Samuel French Festival, NYFringe, Playwright’s Horizon’s Theatre School, and Stella Adler Studio of which she is an alum. Her work in new media spans from the Internet sensation The Burg to creating the first interactive scripted iPhone game Campus Crush for the Episode App, which has spawned multiple sequels and become an international teen sensation with over 6 million views per month. Her short film OMA is currently in production starring Lynn Cohen (The Hunger Games). She is a member of NYC’s FAB Women and Los Angeles’s IAMA Theatre Co. When Melissa was a kid, she broke four puppet theater kits from telling stories too hard. Now that she’s an adult, she hopes to break even more.

Around the Web

The Wendy Project on Amazon

The Wendy Project on Goodreads

The Wendy Project on JLG

The Wendy Project Publisher Page

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Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke. September 5, 2017. First Second, 208 p. ISBN: 9781626722675.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 2.87; Lexile: 460.

Like a bolt from the blue, Jack’s little sister Maddy is gone—carried into another realm by an ogre.

When Jack and Lilly follow Maddy’s captor through the portal, they are ready for anything . . . except what they find waiting for them in the floating crossroads between worlds. Even the power of their magic plants may not be enough to get them back to earth alive.

Alone and injured, Jack and Lilly must each face their own monsters—as well as giants who grind the bones of human children to feed their “beast” and a fearsome goblin king in the sewers down below.

But when Jack finds himself in a tough spot, help comes from the most unlikely person: the goblin king!

Ben Hatke, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Zita the Spacegirl, concludes his latest middle-grade fantasy-adventure graphic novel series, Mighty Jack, with the energetic finale to his retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk

Sequel to: Mighty Jack

Part of series: Mighty Jack (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities

 

Video Reviews

Reviews

Booklist (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21))
Grades 3-6. At the end of Hatke’s series starter, Mighty Jack (2016), Jack and Lily chased after the plant ogre that spirited Jack’s sister, Maddy, away through a portal. The story picks up immediately afterward as Jack and Lily clamber into an utterly unknown place, where strange floating islands are connected by thick vines. Driven by the urge to rescue his sister at all costs, Jack brashly presses on, and when he and Lily get separated, he continues up the vine, while Lily finds herself among a gang of friendly goblins, though they have some ulterior motives. As he did in the first book, Hatke fills his full-bleed pages with hordes of fantastic monsters rendered in wild, organic shapes, and he further enlivens the story with snappy, comical dialogue. Well-wrought action scenes clearly depict the many battles, and swooping perspectives make the kid heroes look even more gallant. Fans of Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl series will be especially delighted by the cliff-hanger ending, which ensures many more adventures for the plucky, clever kids.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 1, 2017)
Jack and Lilly return in a new adventure in which they must navigate a fantastic and foreign land to save Jack’s autistic sister, Maddy.The story dives in where Mighty Jack (2016) had left off on a breathless cliffhanger, which finds Jack and Lilly emerging through a strange, keyhole-shaped portal in order to save Maddy from a fierce monster. Rather like Alice down the rabbit hole, the kids find themselves in an unfamiliar world where they must climb a tenuous beanstalk and face vicious, biting rats, lovably bumbling goblins, and fearsome giants. Hatke’s reimagined fairy tale is a masterpiece that blends all the familiar elements of “Jack and the Beanstalk” with a decidedly fresh eye in a visually arresting graphic format. His art, brilliantly colored by Campbell and Sycamore, is vividly kinetic, taking over with many wordless action scenes that fire off with rocketlike propulsion. Though Hatke’s cast is predominantly white, he gives diversity a nod with an autistic main character and defies gender convention when another female character is crowned king. Though Jack is given sole titular credit, he and Lilly share the heroic spotlight in this installment, as she is every bit as mighty and important as he. Expect demand for the next installment to be through the roof; Hatke’s brilliant final scene should elicit audible exclamations from fans of his work. Another outstanding adventure from a master storyteller. (Graphic fantasy. 7-14)

About the Author

Ben Hatke is the author and illustrator of the New York Times–bestselling Zita the Spacegirl trilogy, the picture books Julia’s House for Lost Creatures and Nobody Likes a Goblin, and the graphic novels Little Robot and Mighty Jack. He lives and works in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and their boisterous pack of daughters.

His website is www.benhatke.com

Around the Web

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King on Amazon

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King on Goodreads

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King on JLG

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King Publisher Page

Thornhill by Pam Smy

Thornhill by Pam Smy. August 29, 2017. Roaring Brook Press, 544 p. ISBN: 9781626726543.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.3.

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a Ella unravels the mystery of the girl next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2016: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines Mary s through intimate diary entries and Ella s in bold, striking art Pam Smy s Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, and a suspense-filled story

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Murder, Bullying, Arson

 

Reviews

Booklist (August 2017 (Online))
Grades 5-8. Dual stories set decades apart unfold together in this hybrid novel told in diary entries and eerie grayscale illustrations. More than 30 years ago, Mary Baines kept a diary about her life at Thornhill, an orphanage, and the cruel torment she experienced at the hands of another girl there. Meanwhile, in the present, Smy’s cinematic artwork shows lonesome Ella curious about the dilapidated former orphanage outside her window and the newspaper clippings she finds about a girl who went missing there, named Mary Baines. As Mary becomes more and more tormented for her love of books and the strange puppets she makes in her room, Ella sneaks onto Thornhill’s grounds and finds remnants of Mary’s dolls, which she takes home and lovingly repairs before returning them. The interplay between Mary’s diary entries and the images of Ella’s investigation builds depth in both girls’ narratives, though Ella’s can be a bit harder to decipher. Still, the enigmatic narrative, believable horrors, and haunting conclusion will be riveting for fans of ghost stories.

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 15, 2017)
Decades after the tragedy at and closure of gothic Thornhill Institute, a new girl in town is drawn into its story.The past storyline is told through white, orphaned Mary’s diary entries (dated in the early 1980s); white preteen Ella’s modern, voiceless story unfolds, Wonderstruck-like, in intercut, illustrated, wordless sequences (frames of which occasionally have text, such as newspaper clippings). Selectively mute Mary is a puppet-making, literature-loving outcast at Thornhill, her situation complicated by the return of her chief tormenter and the ringleader of the other girls, back from a failed foster placement. These are Thornhill’s last days, the girls being sent to new placements so the property can be developed. Stoic Mary thinks she just wants to be left alone, until a taste of irresistible friendship turns to cruelty. In the present, lonely Ella is intrigued by Thornhill, especially the girl she sometimes sees beyond the locked walls. She sneaks onto the grounds, finds puppets, and repairs them before returning them, striking up an odd, at-a-distance friendship with the mysterious girl—who, she realizes, is likely the dead girl from the orphanage’s past. The puppets and doll figures take a familiar creepy motif and make it a source of joy and comfort. The striking monochromatic art is atmospheric and emotional in an understated way that gives it more power rather than less. It’s capped by an ambiguous climax and chilling denouement. Beautiful, moody, sad, and spooky—all at once. (Horror/graphic hybrid. 10-adult)

About the Author

Pam Smy studied Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, part of Anglia Ruskin University, where she now lectures part-time. Pam has illustrated books by Conan Doyle (The Hound of the Baskervilles), Julia Donaldson (Follow the Swallow) and Kathy Henderson (Hush, Baby, Hush!), among others. She lives in Cambridge.

Her website is pamsmy.blogspot.com

Around the Web

Thornhill on Amazon

Thornhill on Goodreads

Thornhill on JLG

Thornhill Publisher Page

The Road to Epoli by Ben Costa & James Parks

The Road to Epoli: Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo Book 1 by Ben Costa & James Parks. June 6, 2017. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 208 p. ISBN: 9780399556135.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Nimona meets Adventure Time as a singing skeleton searches for his origins in this full-color graphic novel series kickoff!
 
Meet Rickety Stitch . . . a walking, talking, singing skeleton minstrel. He’s the one skeleton in the dungeon who seems to have retained his soul, and he has no idea why.

His only clue to his former identity is a song he hears snippets of in his dreams, an epic bard’s tale about the Road to Epoli and the land of Eem.

His sidekick and sole friend is the gelatinous Goo, who Rickety alone can understand. Together they set out in search of Rickety’s past, with abundant humor and danger galore.

Part of Series: Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, War, Violence, Alcohol, Smoking, Irreverent humor, Bawdy humor

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 19))
Grades 5-8. Rickety Stitch is not like the other skeletons. Instead of being a mindless drone, Rickety is a skeleton with a soul, a wisecracking minstrel on a mission to discover his past, how he managed to escape the fate of the other skeletons, and what is so special about the mythical road to Epoli, a place he keeps dreaming about. Coming along on his journey are Gelatinous Goo, a sentient, wobbly blob that only Rickety can understand; a two-headed troll that blackmails Rickety into kidnapping a kindly gnome; an insecure imp; and a host of other fantasy creatures, some of which speak in ill-considered dialects. The world that’s been created is a gorgeously realized homage to fantasy-quest conventions, complete with knights in armor, unicorns, suspicious villagers, and ghostly evil presences, and the artwork reflects that in its bold colors and lively character designs. The jokes, on the other hand, are modern, funny, and sometimes bawdy. The first of a planned trilogy will have readers eagerly awaiting the next installment of Rickety’s adventure.

Kirkus Reviews starred (April 1, 2017)
A minstrel skeleton and his wobbly companion embark upon an epic quest to learn their origins in this gloriously ribald graphic tale. Unlike the other, dronelike skeletons, who never tire and soundlessly work, Rickety Stitch has both a soul and a song in his heart. Cast out from his dungeon into a dark and mysterious wood for his ineffectiveness and nonconformity, he and his faithful companion—a silent, shopping-bag–shaped creature named Gelatinous Goo—soon find themselves tricked by a snarky little imp. Goo is imprisoned by a two-headed giant who demands that the imp and Rickety bring him a pure-hearted gnome to eat. The plan goes awry, and hilarity ensues (along with the more-than-occasional cheerfully caustic joke). Rickety has no memories of his human life, and in addition to rescuing his friend is determined to track down something from his past. Costa and Parks’ script is imaginative and laugh-out-loud funny, unafraid to crack a well-timed, verging-on-naughty joke. Costa’s art is unfalteringly, vibrantly buoyant, with many sight gags that effortlessly turn the profane into something adorably laughable. A cliffhanger ending leaves readers poised for the sequel—they will be clamoring. For those who loved Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona (2015) and have struggled to find something similar, this may scratch that itch. Don’t be fooled by the cheery illustrations; this is irreverent, bawdy, and lots of fun. (Graphic fantasy. 13-adult)

About the Author

Ben Costa is a writer and artist living in the Bay Area. He has self-published two volumes of his award-winning, martial arts historical fiction comic Pang, The Wandering Shaolin Monk. He has also done work for IDW, Viz Media, and SF Weekly. Throughout his life, he has maintained a steady diet of samurai comics, kung fu movies, spacefaring farmboys, and tabletop RPGs.

James Parks is a speculative fiction writer and graphic novelist living in the Bay Area. James was weaned on monster flicks, ghostbusting, lightsaber duels, samurai cinema, and comics—with a sober dose of Victorian literature and ’80s cartoons. James is also the author of the Southern Gothic horror collection The Gospel of Bucky Dennis, was a staff writer for Campfire Graphic Novels, and is a current member of the Horror Writers Association.

Around the Web

The Road to Epoli on Amazon

The Road to Epoli on Goodreads

The Road to Epoli on JLG

The Road to Epoli Publisher Page

Hostage by Guy Delisle

Hostage by Guy Delisle. April 25, 2017. Drawn & Quarterly, 436 p. ISBN: 9781770462793.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

How does one survive when all hope is lost?

In the middle of the night in 1997, Doctors Without Borders administrator Christophe Andre was kidnapped by armed men and taken away to an unknown destination in the Caucasus region. For three months, Andre was kept handcuffed in solitary confinement, with little to survive on and almost no contact with the outside world. Close to twenty years later, award-winning cartoonist Guy Delisle (PyongyangJerusalemShenzhenBurma Chronicles) recounts Andre s harrowing experience in Hostage, a book that attests to the power of one man s determination in the face of a hopeless situation.

Marking a departure from the author s celebrated first-person travelogues, Delisle tells the story through the perspective of the titular captive, who strives to keep his mind alert as desperation starts to set in. Working in a pared down style with muted color washes, Delisle conveys the psychological effects of solitary confinement, compelling us to ask ourselves some difficult questions regarding the repercussions of negotiating with kidnappers and what it really means to be free. Thoughtful, intense, and moving, Hostage takes a profound look at what drives our will to survive in the darkest of moments.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Discrimination, War, Violence, Alcohol, Harsh realities of being held hostage

 

Author Interview

 

About the Author

Born in Quebec, Canada, Guy Delisle studied animation at Sheridan College. Delisle has worked for numerous animation studios around the world, including CinéGroupe in Montreal.

Drawing from his experience at animation studios in China and North Korea, Delisle’s graphic novels Shenzen and Pyongyang depict these two countries from a Westerner’s perspective. A third graphic novel, Chroniques Birmanes, recounts his time spent in Myanmar with his wife, a Médecins Sans Frontières administrator.

His website is www.guydelisle.com

Around the Web

Hostage on Amazon

Hostage on Goodreads

Hostage on JLG

Seriously Shifted Publisher Page

Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared by Alison Wilgus

Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared by Alison Wilgus. May 23, 2017. First Second, 128 p. ISBN: 9781626721401.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.1.

Take to the skies with Flying Machines!

Follow the famous aviators from their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, to the fields of North Carolina where they were to make their famous flights. In an era of dirigibles and hot air balloons, the Wright Brothers were among the first innovators of heavier than air flight. But in the hotly competitive international race toward flight, Orville and Wilbur were up against a lot more than bad weather. Mechanical failures, lack of information, and even other aviators complicated the Wright Brothers’ journey. Though they weren’t as wealthy as their European counterparts, their impressive achievements demanded attention on the international stage. Thanks to their carefully recorded experiments and a healthy dash of bravery, the Wright Brothers’ flying machines took off.

Part of Series: Science Comics

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (April 15, 2017 (Online))
Grades 5-8. The history of aviation gets enthusiastic treatment in this Science Comics series title. Narrated by Katherine Wright, sister to Orville and Wilbur, Wilgus and Brooks’ engaging account of the development of modern aircraft covers key historical moments and figures as well as some of the science behind the designs. While the spreads in which Katherine and other airplane designers explain concepts can get a little wordy, they add very helpful context for how each of the advancements, from the Wrights’ movable rudder to the invention of the aileron to modern turbojet engines, helped improve air travel. Brooks’ depictions of aircraft are detailed and nicely labeled, and they come to life as they zip (or stutter and lurch) through the panels. The Wrights’ competition with blustery European “aeronauts” both enlivens the story line and calls attention to the rapid pace of advancement once early airplanes finally got off the ground. With infectious enthusiasm, clearly articulated concepts, and an engrossing format, this should pique the interest of plane-obsessed kids.

Kirkus Reviews (April 15, 2017)
In this entry in the Science Comics series, Katharine, the younger sister of Orville and Wilbur Wright, explains the science behind flight and how her brothers invented and flew the first successful airplane.The Wright brothers were not the first to try to create flying machines, nor were they alone in their era in experimenting with them. In addition to chronicling their failures and successes, the narrative discusses the work of other pioneers in heavier than air flight, such as Otto and Gustav Lilienthal and Alphonse Pénaud. Scientific concepts including Newton’s laws of motion are clearly and concisely explained, as are technical components of the airplanes the Wright brothers invented and tested. Further innovations in flight are explained, ending with the invention of the jet engine. The text is informative and engagingly written, and the illustrations are colorful and appealing. A palette of brown, ocher, and blue-gray gives the graphic panels an appropriately antique feel. Unsurprisingly, they are almost exclusively populated by white people. Backmatter includes brief profiles of other aviation pioneers and a short biography of Katharine Wright. There is no bibliography or source notes and a surprising paucity of age-appropriate titles in the suggestions for further reading. An accessible and engaging introduction to the Wright brothers and how they ushered in the age of flight. (glossary, further reading) (Graphic nonfiction. 8-12)

About the Author

Alison Wilgus is a Brooklyn-based author of comics and prose. She got her start as an animation writer on Codename: Kids Next Door, and her work has since been published by Scholastic, Nickelodeon Magazine, Del Rey, Dark Horse, and Tor.com, among others.

Her website is www.alisonwilgus.com

Around the Web

Flying Machines on Amazon

Flying Machines on Goodreads

Flying Machines on JLG

Flying Machines Publisher Page

Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman

Mystery of the Ghost Ship: The Adventures of John Blake by Philip Pullman. September 30, 2017. Graphix, 160 p. ISBN: 9781338149128.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Trapped in the mists of time by a terrible research experiment gone wrong, John Blake and his mysterious ship are doomed to sail between the centuries, searching for a way home. In the ocean of the modern day, John rescues a shipwrecked young girl his own age, Serena, and promises to help.

But returning Serena to her own time means traveling to the one place where the ship is in most danger of destruction. The all-powerful Dahlberg Corporation has an ambitious leader with plans far greater and more terrible than anyone has realized, and he is hot on their trail. For only John, Serena, and the crew know Dahlberg’s true intentions, and only they have the power to stop him from bending the world to his will …

Part of Series: The Adventures of John Blake (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence

 

Reviews

Horn Book Magazine (July/August, 2017)
Pullman’s first original graphic novel is a smorgasbord thriller containing a little bit of everything–including espionage, time travel, bloodthirsty pirates, high-tech gadgets, and substantial explosions. Several intersecting story lines and a large cast of characters swirl around the mysterious teenager John Blake and his time-hopping ship the Mary Alice. Multiple tangential players–a determined maritime agent, a formidable British spy, and an evil billionaire inventor–all with their own agendas, work with and against one another as they pursue John and the Mary Alice. A narrative of corporate greed, murder, and collusion quickly develops after John and his crew rescue the shipwrecked Serena, a modern-day teenager traveling the seas with her family, and attempt to get her back to the present day. Cinematic illustrations, along with a strong sense of atmosphere and liberal deployment of panels per page, carry much of the storytelling. A few exceptional visual moments–a jarringly vertical panel of Serena sinking into the depths of the ocean and a nearly all-white double-page spread depicting John’s first time-travel experience–are a relief from the persistent mannequin-esque appearance of the characters. While many pieces of the story have a tendency to fall into place too easily, readers searching for a rollicking adventure comic will be thoroughly satisfied.

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2017)
Purloined technology, time travelers, ghost ships, and deception converge in this graphic page-turner. In a world not too unlike our own, most everyone is connected by Apparators, smartphonelike devices that can also project images, created by technology mogul Carlos Dahlberg. A member of the crew on the ghost ship Mary Alice, white time traveler John Blake is doomed to ride in and out of different time periods after an accident suffered during an experiment conducted by his scientist father. Young Blake knows Dahlberg’s darkest secret and has the evidence and desire to expose him. Serena Anderson, a white Australian teenager lost at sea, Danielle Quayle Reid, a black Harvard Law graduate, and Roger Blake, a white commander in the Royal Navy, all become caught up in Dahlberg and Blake’s tangled web. High-adrenaline chases, blazing explosions, and gunfights abound as they come to discover their shocking connections. Will they be able to stop Dahlberg before his nefarious plans come to fruition? Pullman has created an intricate blend of science fiction and adventure, skillfully weaving together many disparate elements into a cohesive and exciting tale. Fordham’s art, although realistic and spare, is cinematic in scope, imbuing this with all the momentum of a Hollywood blockbuster. Some of the finer plot details have a tendency to be quickly glossed over, but expect readers to be too caught up in this whirlwind ride to care. A richly imagined high-octane thriller. (Science fiction/adventure. 13-adult)

About the Author

In 1946, acclaimed author Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England, into a Protestant family. Although his beloved grandfather was an Anglican priest, Pullman became an atheist in his teenage years. He graduated from Exeter College in Oxford with a degree in English, and spent 23 years as a teacher while working on publishing 13 books and numerous short stories. Pullman has received many awards for his literature, including the prestigious Carnegie Medal for exceptional children’s literature in 1996, and the Carnegie of Carnegies in 2006. He is most famous for his “His Dark Materials” trilogy, a series of young adult fantasy novels which feature freethought themes. The novels cast organized religion as the series’ villain. [He wants] to emphasize the simple physical truth of things, the absolute primacy of the material life, rather than the spiritual or the afterlife.” He argues for a “republic of heaven” here on Earth.

His website is www.philip-pullman.com

Around the Web

The Mystery of the Ghost Ship on Amazon

The Mystery of the Ghost Ship on Goodreads

The Mystery of the Ghost Ship on JLG

The Mystery of the Ghost Ship Publisher Page

 

Pigs Might Fly by Nick Abadzis

Pigs Might Fly by Nick Abadzis. July 11, 2017. First Second,  208 p. ISBN: 9781626727434.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.9.

All the sensible hogfolk in Pigdom Plains know that if pigs were meant to fly, they’d have been born with wings―but there’s no convincing Lily Leanchops. The daughter of renowned inventor Hercules Fatchops, Lily has watched her father’s flying machines fail time and time again. Working in secret, Lily is trying to build what her father couldn’t: an aircraft that actually works. And of course, she’s following his example and employing scientific principals alone―not magic. (Well, a protection spell or two doesn’t count, right?)

Lily’s secret project takes on a new sense of urgency when a mysterious enemy emerges from beyond the mountains. The Warthogs are coming, and they’re piloting flying machines powered by dangerous magic spells. To save Pigdom Plains, Lily must take to the skies in her own experimental aircraft―and there’s no time for a test run.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21))
Grades 7-10. Lily Leanchops, daughter of a famous inventor, has built an aircraft using only her own mechanical skills; no magic needed. But when warthog flying machines begin dive bombing the peaceful Pigdom Plains, Lily must look deep into her father’s past to find out who gave the warthogs their newfound knowledge. A 1920s-like setting combines with anthropomorphic, porcine characters and a touch of unusual magic for a unique tale of feminism, desperation, and scientific endeavor. Though Abadzis could have played for laughs, he instead chooses to give his story a serious tone, which will draw readers in. Dye’s art strikes a good balance between cartoonish—after all, these are pigs!—and serious, using a lot of detail to illustrate the settings, the aerial battles, and the emotions of the characters. His muted colors fit the apparent time period, adding gravity to an already thoughtful story. Lily’s frustration at being subject to limitations due to her gender will resonate with teen readers, as will her determination to show off her skills while helping her people.

Kirkus Reviews (May 1, 2017)
Can teen pig Lily realize her dream to fly with the power of science?Lily’s engineer father, Professor Fatchops, has long been working on powered flight, but the government has other priorities. Lily and her younger cousin Archie secretly take up the task of creating a plane that doesn’t need magic to stay aloft. Just as she’s one model away from success, warthogs from the wilds west of the mountains attack in aircraft. With a few tweaks, Lily has a working plane ready to answer the warthogs’ next attack. Her actions are greeted with acclaim, but when her secret’s revealed, her father’s angry outburst sends Lily on another mission…to try to reason with the warthogs. What she finds over the mountains is a magical surprise—and a terrifying threat on both physical and supernatural fronts. Abadzis sets his piggie parable in a steampunk-y world that looks a lot like early-20th-century America at its outset. Experienced readers will easily predict the tale’s trajectory, as it follows in the trotters of fantasy comics past, which means it also acts as a nice primer for middle graders just starting out in the genre. Dye’s colorful artwork fleshes out both the anthropomorphic pigs, clothing them in period garb that’s filled out with very humanlike physiques, and their world, which expands impressively once Lily reaches the dominion of the warthogs. Lily’s fans will look forward to the sequel set up at the close. (Graphic fantasy. 9-14)

About the Author

Nick Abadzis was born in Sweden to Greek and English parents and was brought up in Switzerland and England. He is a writer and artist who likes comics (which means these days he seems to be known as a “graphic novelist”). His work for both adults and children has been published in many countries across the world.

He also works as an editorial consultant and has helped set up several best-selling and innovative children’s magazines, including most recently, The DFC for David Fickling Books, the first British children’s comic to feature original characters in nearly a quarter of a century. His storytelling contribution, Cora’s Breakfast, was featured in The Guardian. His work has also appeared in The Times, The Independent on Sunday, TimeOut, Radio Times and various other BBC publications and websites. Other clients have included Eaglemoss Publications, HarperCollins, Harcourt Education, Scholastic, Orchard Books, DC Comics, Marvel Comics and 2000AD. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

His website is www.nickabadzis.com

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Pigs Might Fly on Amazon

Pigs Might Fly  on Goodreads

Pigs Might Fly on JLG

Pigs Might Fly Publisher Page

Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke

Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke. April  18, 2017. Pantheon Books, 278 p. ISBN: 9781101870839.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

A gorgeous graphic memoir about loss, love, and confronting grief

When Kristen Radtke was in college, the sudden death of a beloved uncle and the sight of an abandoned mining town after his funeral marked the beginning moments of a lifelong fascination with ruins and with people and places left behind. Over time, this fascination deepened until it triggered a journey around the world in search of ruined places. Now, in this genre-smashing graphic memoir, she leads us through deserted cities in the American Midwest, an Icelandic town buried in volcanic ash, islands in the Philippines, New York City, and the delicate passageways of the human heart. Along the way, we learn about her family and a rare genetic heart disease that has been passed down through generations, and revisit tragic events in America’s past.

A narrative that is at once narrative and factual, historical and personal, Radtke’s stunning illustrations and piercing text never shy away from the big questions: Why are we here, and what will we leave behind?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War, Mild sexual themes, Alcohol

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
When Radtke was in college, studying art in Chicago, the uncle she’d grown up adoring died of a heart condition. Around the same time, she visited Gary, Indiana, and began to cultivate a deep interest in the ruins of cities and decaying places. The idea of “how something that is can become, very suddenly, something that isn’t” obsessed her. Radtke’s neat, grayscale drawings are detailed and coloring-book precise, and her thoughtful, meticulous narration makes true visual essays of them. In grad school, she travels to the Philippines, Burma, Singapore, and Vietnam, seeking and studying international “ruin-porn,” as she notes some call it. Her story cartwheels, too, exploring the science behind her uncle’s defect and the probability that she has it, too. She tells the story of the infamous fire in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, her home state, which decimated the area and took thousands of victims but remains regional lore after occurring on the same day as the Great Chicago Fire. In her cerebral journey of a first book, Radtke, an illustrator, designer, and managing editor of a small press, asks and answers: Why do ruins fascinate, and why is this fascination considered perverse? Why are ruins there at all?

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 1, 2017)
Insights and images combine in a meditation on loss, grief, and the illusions of permanence.  Sarabande Books managing editor Radtke isn’t an artist who also writes a little or a writer who scrawls but a master of both prose narrative and visual art. Like memory, the narrative loosens the binds of chronology, playing hopscotch through the author’s girlhood, college, formative years as an artist, and apocalyptic fantasy of her current home in New York. A strain of heart failure seems to run in Radtke’s family, and the key to this memoir is the death of her favorite uncle, who was recovering from the surgery that ultimately killed him and whose death made the author and her family all the more concerned with the family medical history. The event also planted the seed for this book and its larger thematic focus, as Radtke became “consumed by the question of how something that is can become, very suddenly, something that isn’t.” On her return home for the funeral, the author discovered an abandoned mining town that she would later revisit. During art school, she became fascinated by Gary, Indiana, a city in ruins, where she discovered the photos of someone whose attempts to document the city led to his death. She left a fiance and what she imagined to be a “stagnant future” for vagabond travels taking her from the ruins of Italy to the ravages of Southeast Asia, while her own heart condition gave notions of impermanence and loss a personal emphasis. “I couldn’t comprehend why the dead couldn’t be made undead,” she writes. “Why a heart that caved couldn’t be filled out again.” In a way, what she has done in this impressive book is to revive the dead and recover the lost while illuminating a world in flux, in which change is the only constant. Powerfully illustrated and incisively written—a subtle dazzler of a debut.

About the Author

Kristen Radtke is a writer and illustrator based in Brooklyn. Her graphic memoir, Imagine Wanting Only This, is forthcoming from Pantheon Books in April.

She is the managing editor of Sarabande Books and the film & video editor of TriQuarterly magazine. She has an MFA from the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program.

Her website is kristenradtke.com

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Imagine Wanting Only This on Amazon

Imagine Wanting Only This on Goodreads

Imagine Wanting Only This on JLG

Imagine Wanting Only This Publisher Page

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfield

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfield. May 2, 2017. First Second, 211 p. ISBN: 9781596439368.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Uncanny manifestations and lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone.

The Spill claimed Addison’s parents and scarred her little sister, Lexa, who hasn t spoken since. Addison provides for her sister by photographing the Zone’s twisted attractions on illicit midnight rides. Art collectors pay top dollar for these bizarre images, but getting close enough for the perfect shot can mean death or worse.

When an eccentric collector makes a million-dollar offer, Addison breaks her own hard-learned rules of survival and ventures farther than she has ever dared. Within the Spill Zone, Hell awaits and it seems to be calling Addison’s name.

Part of series: The Spill Zone (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Smoking, Gore, Horror themes

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (April 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 16))
Grades 9-12. As he did in the YA favorite Uglies (2005), Westerfeld crafts a world drastically and subtly altered by an extranormal development, then rivetingly explores its practical and psychological consequences. The development in this case is something otherworldly that has “spilled” into a small town in upstate New York. Addison illegally penetrates the spill zone to photograph its disturbing effects on people, animals, and environment and sells the pictures as black-market art to support her little sister, an escapee from the spill zone but not, perhaps, from its effects. When Addison is approached with a shady deal to penetrate the zone more deeply than ever before, she will have to break every rule she’s ever set to buy freedom for her sister and herself. Westerfeld handles the spooky business of the infected town magnificently, spiking the eerie and inexplicable with moments of genuine horror while always keeping the emotional tensions of his highly accessible teenage protagonist at the center. Puvilland provides rough, gritty visuals that deliver on the haunted world of the zone as well as the more realistic world of subterfuge and danger that Addison must navigate. The story breaks at a high-tension moment with plenty left to resolve in book two, but it is nevertheless a terrifically satisfying read.

Horn Book Magazine (May/June, 2017)
This first entry in a creepy, addictively suspenseful graphic novel series makes for compulsive reading. Three years ago, something very strange happened in Poughkeepsie, New York–no one is certain exactly what–but weird things happened in the city and weird things now populate it. Although the entire Spill Zone has been cordoned off, Addie continues to live just inside the checkpoint with her younger sister, Lexa (who doesn’t speak, except to her doll Vespertine), after losing both parents in the Spill. Addie regularly and illegally rides through the Spill Zone on her motorcycle, photographing the bizarre things she witnesses and selling her pictures to a local art dealer. Then a wealthy collector (who, it turns out, has bought up all of Addie’s photographs) makes her an offer she can’t refuse: a million dollars for retrieving a single item from a building inside the Spill Zone. As Addie sets out on her mission, the local authorities discover that she is the rogue motorcyclist; the North Koreans (who are also interested in this item) begin to close in; and, worst of all, Vespertine becomes animated by the same evil presence that permeates the Spill Zone. Puvilland’s dynamic panel layouts, striking use of unexpected colors, and sketchy line work serve the story well while conveying the unsettling mood of the piece. Westerfeld has set up his series with a provocative premise, and as the precise nature of the Spill Zone continues to be revealed, the stakes are sure to be raised accordingly in future volumes. jonathan hunt

About the Author

Scott Westerfeld is a New York Times bestselling author of YA. He was born in the Texas and now lives in Sydney and New York City. In 2001, Westerfeld married fellow author Justine Larbalestier.

His website is www.scottwesterfield.com.

 Around the Web

Spill Zone  on Amazon

Spill Zone on Goodreads

Spill Zone on JLG

 

Spill Zone Publisher Page