Kid's Advisory Board Reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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These are reviews written by members of the Kids Advisory Board.

 

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Mapmakers and the Lost Magic: (A Graphic Novel) Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9780593172865
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Random House Graphic - April 26th, 2022

This graphic novel tells a very original story. I have never read anything like it. The main character, Alidade, lives in Alden, a nice but boring town. She has never known anyplace else. One day she goes to the city limits and is caught by the police force called The Night Coats. She is able to run away, but is now essentially exiled. On the run with a friend, Alidade finds a doorknob attached to a tree and in a tiny hidden cabin they find a map. When they open the map, a bird comes out. From the bird, Alidade learns there used to be these folks called Mapmakers, who had a magic that kept the world together and safe. The Night Coats apparently shut down the Mapmakers and now they and their magic are gone. Alidade decides she wants to revive the order. And that's just the beginning of a journey of revelation. I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy fantasy, adventure and the graphic novel format.

-Review by Michael, age 13


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Realm of the Blue Mist: A Graphic Novel (The Rema Chronicles #1) Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9781338115130
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Graphix - April 5th, 2022

This graphic novel was very original, combining elements of fantasy and science fiction with a touch of Norse mythology.  The main character, Tabby, lost her dad several years ago when he died mysteriously under a giant tree he had been researching, having apparently aged 200 years overnight. The tree and the woods around it have since been declared a biohazard and research has been halted on the blue mist that pours out of it. Though the forest is forbidden, of course Tabby goes there every day, to get closer to her dad's memory and try and figure out why and how he died. One day, she sees an unfamiliar guy with blue hair approach the tree and vanish through a previously unseen portal. While leaving, he drops a ring, and she picks it up and puts it on, following him through the portal as it closes. She finds herself in another world, connected to ours and others through what turns out to be Yggdrasil, the Norse "world tree." But she cannot get home again - the portal only opened one way for her. She's taken in by the blue-haired guy, who has the unlikely name of "Philip". The ring she picked up turns out to be a "traveler's ring," conferring understanding of both spoken and written language. So while hiding out in Philip's room, she reads some of their lore. She finds out he's a "geist," possessing forbidden powers. The plot only gets more involved from there. The art was very well done and the story entertaining, if a little hard to follow sometimes.

 

-Review by Michael, age 13


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Sir Ladybug Cover Image
By Corey R. Tabor, Corey R. Tabor (Illustrator)
$7.99
Unavailable
ISBN: 9780063069077
Availability: Not Yet Published
Published: Balzer + Bray - March 28th, 2023

Sir Ladybug is a book about a Prince who comes across a mission for a "monster." But really it's just a bird looking for food. So Sir Ladybug has 2 assistants and they help him with the mission. One of them comes up with a plan that they should make a Lemon Merangue Cake. It's so good that the bird doesn't want to eat the bugs!

I liked it and I think it's suitable for kids 8 and up.

 

-Review by Mady, Age 8


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Crab and Snail: The Invisible Whale Cover Image
By Beth Ferry, Jared Chapman (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9780062962140
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: HarperAlley - March 22nd, 2022

Crab & snail is a book about 2 friends, all of a sudden they are getting rained on and it won't stop. They find out that it is an invisible whale shooting water at them! They become friends with the whale and the whale sings goodnight to them. I think people who like books about friendship and caring would like this book.

 

-Review by Mady, age 8


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Wingbearer Cover Image
By Marjorie Liu, Teny Issakhanian (Illustrator)
$12.99
ISBN: 9780062741158
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Quill Tree Books - March 1st, 2022

This full color art in this graphic novel was unbelievable - fantastic design, lush detail. I can't wait to see the full book in its finished form. As to the story, it was original, compelling and fun, with diverse characters. The main character, a little Black girl, grew up as the only human in The Great Tree, where the souls of birds go before they're reborn. Each leaf eventually becomes a new bird. Then a day comes when new leaves grow on the tree but without souls. In the world outside, no new birds are hatching. The bird Little Red is sent out to investigate what's happening, but Little Red never comes back. So the main character is sent out, accompanied by an owl companion. Complicating their journey, time works differently in The Great Tree than in the outside world. A day in the tree can be weeks, even months in the world. The main character's travels take her to an ancient city where she meets a young goblin, Orion, who has wings but glides, like a flying squirrel, rather than like a bird. Adventure ensues. The book ends on a cliffhanger and a huge plot twist, so it's obviously setting up for a second book ... which I can't wait to read.

 

Review by Michael, age 13


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The Legend of Brightblade Cover Image
$13.99
ISBN: 9780062995520
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Quill Tree Books - March 1st, 2022

This colorful, fast-paced graphic novel combined music and magic with a classic coming-of-age story. The characters were realistic and their motivations made a lot of sense, even the "bad guys," which was refreshing. The art was good too. The main character, Alto, is a kind of floppy-eared elf living in a fantasy world that's also populated by trolls, dragons and more. His mom, Lady Brightblade, was part of an adventuring trio a generation ago who helped to defeat a dragon and bring about a new era of peace. Alto is growing up essentially as a prince but he's not a fan of etiquette, politics and affairs of state. Denied the music/magic training he really loves, he runs away instead. Soon, he meets up with an unusual self-taught Troll bard. Impressed with the troll's skills and initiative, Alto lies about his identity and background. As things progress, he has to keep changing his lie. He also meets a young woman who's working at an instrument repair shop whose music magic is particularly strong,  Meanwhile, he learns of a rogue group of bards who go by the name of "Discord" and who are using a music spell to make people fight, turning the nation against itself and destroy the peace that Ladyu Brightblade fought so hard for. The leader of Discord, Fell, has a mysterious past with Alto's mom and is driven by a desire for revenge. Through the course of the adventure, Alto learns a lot about his world and about himself. I'd recommend the book to lovers of fantasy and the graphic novel format.

-Review by Michael, age 13


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Squire Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780062945846
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Quill Tree Books - March 8th, 2022

This was a well-drawn and comparatively complex graphic novel. The story stands on its own well enough, but I'd love to see a sequel if the author decides to write more. Aiza, a member of the Ornu tribe which is oppressed by the Empire, lives with her parents in poverty. One day, a group of knights come through town, recruiting "heroes" for the army.  Aiza wants to sign on as a squire. Her family is apprehensive but eventually agrees to let her go if that's what she really wants. In training with a motley band of young people from different backgrounds, Aiza works very hard training to go to the front lines. But as she learns more about the Empire and the role the military plays, the more there is to dislike. Meanwhile, Aiza has been hiding her ethnicity, wrapping her distinctive ethnic arm tattoo in bandages. One day, the bandages come unwound and her ethnic identity is discovered. The military higher-ups then ask her to fight against her own kind. It's a journey of discovery for Aiza and her companions as they find out about their role in the world and determine how far they're willing to go to take charge of their own lives.

-Review by Michael, age 13


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Spy School the Graphic Novel Cover Image
By Stuart Gibbs, Anjan Sarkar (Illustrator)
$12.99
ISBN: 9781534455429
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - February 15th, 2022

I don't usually read spy stories, but I liked this one and read it in pretty much one sitting. Ben Ripley has played the CIA simulation hundreds of times, but it still comes as a surprise when the CIA comes to his door to recruit him for their "spy school" for kids. It's Ben's dream come to life, but he's a little confused because he thought the simulation was just a game. Plus, he's a little reluctant to leave his family and friends to attend spy school. Unable to pass up the opportunity, though, he accepts, and Agent Alexander Hale inducts him into the training program. As soon as he gets to the school, it's under attack and he has to fight off "the enemy." Things get even more complex from there, as Ben finds his way through an unfamiliar system where you don't even know who your friends are and there are many more secrets in store. The book would probably be a hit with fans of the regular novel, but it also stood on its own and I enjoyed it.

Review by Michael, age 13


Hidden Powers: Lise Meitner's Call to Science Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781665902502
Availability: Not On Our Shelves Now--Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - January 18th, 2022

This whole book was a prose-poem, which was a bit off-putting at first. For the first few pages, I really struggled to read it and didn't think I was going to finish. Then I got used to the format and began to read it like any other book. It actually was quite fascinating, detailing the life of a scientist I hadn't known about before. Early in her life, Lise faced a lot of obstacles because she was female. Family members thought she ought to settle down and have kids, but she went to college and became a scientist. Every victory was a struggle. She was eventually accepted as the first female physics professor in her country at the time (Germany). She served as a professor and researcher, but the college had no women's bathrooms in that building, so she had to go off-campus. During World War I, Lise serves as a nurse and x-ray technician. What she sees opens her eyes to the horrors of war and she never wants to contribute to that destruction. Having overcome so many obstacles already, Lise encounters another with the rise of the Nazis, who see her Jewish heritage as a threat and begin enacting really oppressive regulations. It's interesting to see the different reactions of the people in her circle - women and men, Jews and Christians, professors and housewives, as they try and figure out what the right thing is to do in the face of such obvious wrongs.

Involved in the study of radiation and search for new elements, she discovered an important fact about how elements break down. Later on, her discovery leads to the development of the atomic bomb, which ends the war, but at the cost of many Japanese lives. Lise is hailed as a hero for her part in the initial radiation research, but she does not want to be linked to creating a weapon of such great destructive power. I would recommend this book to fans of science and history, and feminists who want to see what it was like in a different age. The book also has a lot of resonance in the modern world too.

 

-Review by Michael, age 13


Orphans of the Tide Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780063043114
Availability: Not On Our Shelves Now--Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - December 14th, 2021

After the world was drowned by the Enemy, only one main island was left, the City. Years later a boy with no memories washes ashore, everyone thinks he is the one who serves the Enemy. One girl knows he's innocent, how much will she risk before her own secret is revealed? I loved this book because it was mystifying and clever. The plot-twists really sent me spinning. I highly recommend it for ages 8 & up, or someone looking for a thrilling mystery.

 

-Review by Samantha


Living with Viola Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781773215495
Availability: Backordered- Not Available Right Now
Published: Annick Press - November 30th, 2021

This graphic novel was touching and rang true, because I know people who are living with anxiety, But it's not exactly a relaxing read. The author drew on her own childhood as a child of Chinese immigrants who could be a bit intense in their ambitions for their children. The main character, Livy, has an invisible twin, who she calls Viola, whispering in her ear. It's not a real invisible twin like in a fantasy book, but the creation of part of her own mind, like the little stereotypical devil sitting on her shoulder. Except instead of urging her to do bad things, Viola is constantly belittling Livy and telling her that she's worthless and no one cares about her. Livy's family is well meaning and wants only the best for her, but they are unwittingly contributing to the problem, pressuring her to get the best grades and to achieve in every area of her life. Her parents are bad enough,but extended family members are even worse, comparing her to "more successful" cousins and stigmatizing mental illness in another cousin by sweeping it under the carpet and refusing to talk about him. Livy is also told that the thing that really makes her happy - art - is okay for kids, but is not a real career - that they expect her to have an "important" career like an engineer or doctor. Of course, Viola gets really out of control and begins affecting every aspect of Livy's life. The book has an important message to share with kids, and with parents, about the negative impact of pressure. People who liked Raina Telgemeier's Guts might also like this.

-Review by Michael, age 13


Heartless Prince Cover Image
By Leigh Dragoon, Angela De Vito (Illustrator)
$14.99
ISBN: 9781368028363
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Disney-Hyperion - November 30th, 2021

I was reluctant to read this at first because I thought it might be a romance, and I'm not a fan of that genre.

Instead, this graphic novel turned out to be a fantasy adventure with lots of action, witches, a magic force field and "familiars" that behaved more like a zombie army than the companion beasts readers are used to. It was well drawn too.

The main character, the fierce Evony, is orphaned at the start of the book as a baby. Then a little child, the prince Ammon takes her inside his kingdom, which is surrounded by a magical force field to keep the witches and their familiars out. There, they learn Evony is a princess, heir to the kingdom that the witches have just destroyed, and she is raised as part of the protected kingdom's royal family. Trained adults from this kingdom head outside the force field regularly to fight the witches, an effort which seems to be needed more and more. Now a teen, Ebony wants to go outside the barrier and join in the fighting. Ammon shows Evony a secret way out and sure enough, they're attacked. A witch steals Ammon's heart, which apparently will fuel the witch's power for a long time while the prince is kept in suspended animation. Evony, feeling guilty, sets out to rescue Ammon and also his little sister who gets captured by witches along the way. The book is a fast read, and though Evony is fond of Ammon, the story stayed away from gooey emotions and focused on the action There will be a sequel, so everything was not wrapped up at the end of this volume. Based on what I've read so far, I would be interested in seeing the second book.

-Review by Michael, age 13


A-Okay Cover Image
By Jarad Greene, Jarad Greene (Illustrator)
$12.99
ISBN: 9780063032842
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperAlley - November 2nd, 2021

This graphic was very realistic and character driven and perfectly captures the middle school atmosphere. It was very relatable. The main character, Jay, has had very clear skin up until now, in his eighth-grade year. Now he's having huge problems with acne. He has tried all kinds of different meds and they are not working. On top of that, he's dealing with the changing social situation at school. Two of his friends, a guy and a girl, appear to like him as more-than-a-friend, but he just doesn't share that feeling. The book is about finding your own way and being okay with who you are even if it's not like everyone else.

-Review by Michael, age 13


The Deadliest Diseases Then and Now (The Deadliest #1, Scholastic Focus) Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9781338360226
Availability: Not On Our Shelves Now--Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scholastic Focus - October 5th, 2021

From the Bubonic Plague, then called "The Great Mortality," in the 1300s through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this book explores deadly diseases which have impacted the human world through history. It combines gross but true-to-life details (buboes! contagion! People barricaded in their homes and left to die!) with hopeful stories of research and advances in science which we have discovered can tame some of the deadliest plagues of the past and which offer hope for the future. It also makes me thankful to live in modern times when the whole world can work together to research and find effective treatments and create vaccines in record time.

-Review by Michael, age 13


Violets Are Blue Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781534469181
Availability: Not On Our Shelves Now--Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Aladdin - October 12th, 2021

I liked this book for it's whimsical, yet real life view of things. I especially loved the fact that I could see this girl as my neighbor, the kid down the street, or even a stranger passing by. This book really captured some of the real life struggles kids have. It also made me feel what the characters felt. I highly recommend it for ages 9 & up, or anyone looking for a good book to pass the time.

-Review by Lella, Age 12


Great Power, No Responsibility (Spider-Ham Original Graphic Novel) Cover Image
By Steve Foxe, Shadia Amin (Illustrator)
$8.99
ISBN: 9781338734300
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graphix - September 28th, 2021

This book is a graphic novel about spider ham, the Spider-Man of the animal world. He has absolutely no responsibility for his powers. But when he loses a key that can open anything, he has to find it before something terrible happens. I like this story because like the actual spider man comic, it reminds us we all should have some responsibility for our actions.

-Review by Jack


Great Power, No Responsibility (Spider-Ham Original Graphic Novel) Cover Image
By Steve Foxe, Shadia Amin (Illustrator)
$8.99
ISBN: 9781338734300
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graphix - September 28th, 2021

This book is a graphic novel about spider ham, the Spider-Man of the animal world. He has absolutely no responsibility for his powers. But when he loses a key that can open anything, he has to find it before something terrible happens. I like this story because like the actual spider man comic, it reminds us we all should have some responsibility for our actions.

-Review by Jack


Garlic and the Vampire Cover Image
By Bree Paulsen, Bree Paulsen (Illustrator)
$12.99
ISBN: 9780062995087
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Quill Tree Books - September 28th, 2021

This book is aimed at younger kids but could be enjoyed by readers of all ages. The art is good if not amazing, and the story entertaining. The main character is a sentient vegetable named Garlic (and yes, she is a walking garlic clove)  grown in a witch's garden. She and her fellow vegetables have small lives in a simple village, traveling regularly to a larger market at a nearby town to sell (non-sentient) vegetables. One day, the little vegetable people see smoke coming from the castle on the hill, where Witch Agnes has told them legend says a vampire lives. All of the vegetable people freak out.Celery, a rival to the timid Garlic, suggests that Garlic be the one to go fight the vampire. Witch Agnes, realizing the town will pressure Garlic to do it no matter what, tries to help prepare her. But the witch insists that Celery (a guy) go with Garlic. Once they arrive at the vampire's castle, however, there's a surprise in store.

 

Review by Michael, age 13


The Awakening Storm: A Graphic Novel (City of Dragons #1) Cover Image
By Jaimal Yogis, Vivian Truong (Illustrator)
$12.99
ISBN: 9781338660425
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graphix - September 21st, 2021

This was a fun, entertaining graphic novel with well-drawn, diverse characters, even though it is a little simplistic. Grace, who is Asian American, with mixed parentage, moves to Hong Kong with her new stepdad and her mom. Though her stepdad is pleasant enough and makes her mom happy, Grace is still broken up about the loss of her dad to cancer a couple of years before. They shared a special bond and he used to tell her stories from his homeland about dragons. In Hong Kong, Grace enters a top-flight international boarding school and has some trouble fitting in right away. Then an ancient fortuneteller at the market gives her an egg which hatches into a mythic water dragon. When fellow students catch her, the group becomes friends, sharing the secret about the dragon. Grace's dad then returns in a dream and tells her to "wake the dragons." Then her baby dragon is kidnapped and she and her friends enter a world of hidden myth and contemporary danger. This is the first of a new series. I'd go on to read the next one, as I'm interested in what happens next.

 

Review by Michael, age 13

 


Unsolved Case Files: Jailbreak at Alcatraz: Frank Morris & the Anglin Brothers' Great Escape Cover Image
By Tom Sullivan, Tom Sullivan (Illustrator)
$12.99
ISBN: 9780062991546
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - September 7th, 2021

This nonfiction book follows up the first in the series, Escape at 10,000 Feet, which I also enjoyed.

This book centers on the Alcatraz island prison off California. It was supposedly unescapable and was surrounded by deep, cold ocean waters on all sides. Yet three people did manage to escape without a trace, apparently succeeding in building new lives elsewhere. There had been 12 previous escape attempts prior to this one, which happened in 1962, and all had resulted in the capture or death of the attempted escapees. This one was much better planned than the ones before, however, including homemade tools, sawed bars, tunnels, and papier-mache heads with real human hair that made it look like the escapees were still in their beds. The story is illustrated with drawings, but also includes lots of maps, news stories, photos and details from that time. I found it interesting and a bit inspiring. Even though the people involved were criminals who had done bad things, their determination could be an example to us all.

 

Review by Michael, age 13


Andy Warner's Oddball Histories: Pests and Pets Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9780316463386
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - September 7th, 2021

I really enjoyed this graphic-novel-format book on how humans have changed animals over time. Pigeons, dogs, cows, rats ... all of these wouldn't have evolved the way they did without human interaction and in some cases direct intervention. And the changes went both ways. I already knew cows changed humans' guts, for example. We didn't used to be able to process cow's milk. Everybody was basically lactose intolerant. I learned a bunch of things about other species and how they changed due to humans. Some animals were domesticated and made "fancy" in various ways, like dogs and pigeons. Others, like cats, essentially domesticated themselves to take advantage of humans. The format and the humor make the information really accessible and fun to read. The book also circles back a lot to some of the same themes, when things that happened with one species happen with another. I would recommend the book to anyone interested in the intersection of biology and history, animal lovers in general and people who like non-fiction presented in graphic novel format.

-Review by Michael, age 13


The Smashed Man of Dread End Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062990525
Availability: Not On Our Shelves Now--Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - August 17th, 2021

The Smashed Man of Dread End is a horror book about a girl named Noe who has a little sister named Len. They just moved across town to a bigger house on Totter court. But when they get there Noe is given a weird warning from the neighborhood kids not to go into her basement at night. Noe doesn't take them seriously and she goes in her basement. And there the smashed man is. He is terrifying and the kids of Totter court have good reason to be afraid. This book is a great book for fans of the goosebumps books and for kids who like a good mystery to solve. This is my new favorite book I loved it!

-Review by Maddie


Hide and Don't Seek: And Other Very Scary Stories Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780063026957
Availability: Not On Our Shelves Now--Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Quill Tree Books - August 3rd, 2021

This is a book of 20 short horror stories that are easy to read. It is a little similar to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark but much shorter. None of the short stories are connected and there is a good mixture of different kinds of horror including supernatural, monster, and psychological. I think young readers in their tweens will enjoy this book best and wont be too scared by the stories. I won’t get into the details because, well… it’s a lot more fun if you don’t know what is going on. The author of this book is ANICA MROSE RISSI and she nails the spooky genre. (honestly there should be a movie about this book) My favorite short story in the collection is YOUR IT because the style of writing is fun; it evolves in a series of text messages for the reader. 

-Review by Jack


The Graveyard Riddle: A Goldfish Boy Novel Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781338679038
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Press - August 3rd, 2021

This book is a mystery book by Lisa Thompson. The Graveyard Riddle is a rather interesting book. It follows a girl named Melody Bird, as she goes to the graveyard on a walk with her dog, only to find an abandoned old building in the corner of it. She finds a message on a door that reads “Lord have mercy upon us,” and a nice lady who lives nearby, named old Nina, explains that it used to be a plague house (a house that sick people stayed in during the plague). Melody and her friends later meet a boy named Hal who claims to be a spy and he is using the old plague house to investigate a criminal. He asks them to help, only for them to start questioning him, to see if he is telling the truth.  I really like the suspense of this story, as the mystery unravels about who this spy is.

 

-Review by Jack


The Accursed Vampire Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9780062954343
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Quill Tree Books - July 27th, 2021

This book stars three young vampires. By young, I mean, they're still children, even though they've been children for hundreds or even thousands of years. The main character, a non-binary vampire named Dragoslava, was born in 1460. They are drawn weirdly, like a cross between the stereotypical caped Dracula and Charlie Brown. Their friends, drawn much more realistically, are Eztli, born in 1597, and Quintus, the son of the (black) vampire queen, born 129 BCE. Centuries ago, Dragoslava was cursed by a witch and now has to do anything the witch asks. This time, the witch asks Dragoslava to retrieve a grimoire that was allegedly stolen from her a long time ago. Eztli and Quintus don't have to go along on this quest, but they want to help. Along the way, they learn more about this witch they've known for so many centuries, and find a way to change their destinies. I would recommend this book to fans of diverse, supernatural graphic novels like The Witch Boy

-Review by Michael, age 12


The Ghoul Next Door Cover Image
By Cullen Bunn, Cat Farris (Illustrator)
$12.99
ISBN: 9780062896094
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperAlley - July 13th, 2021

This story was very creative - I haven't read a book like this before. It takes a lot of elements that I have liked from other stories, like graveyards, underground cities and multiple races barely at peace with one another, and puts them together in a new way.

the story starts when the main character, Grey, picks up a 1919 penny which his friend says is unlucky. Grey decides to take a shortcut through the graveyard to get his diorama to school on time. But he drops the diorama into what appears to be an open grave, and a hand reaches out and grabs it. 

At school, he can't say what really happened, so he says he left his project at home. He stays up all night to remake it and it's stolen again - then he finds at his doorstep an amazingly complete model of the graveyard, which he turns in. The weird gifts don't stop there, though. Suddenly he's finding bone necklaces, tied-together bone keys, a doll that looks like him with real teeth sewn on.... Someone is apparently trying to be nice, but it creeps Grey out. Then he meets the gift-giver, Lavinia, who's a child ghoul. She explains her culture and why they're not supposed to reveal their presence to humans. Of course Grey winds up getting caught up in their culture nonetheless, and eventually embarks on an adventure in their underground realms that's equal parts fascinating and terrifying. The ghoul character is really fun - sincere and naive in terms of our culture, yet the holder of arcane secrets. Hideous, yet appealing. The other characters were well depicted too, rounded, realistic and believable.

-Review by Michael, age 12


Long Distance Cover Image
By Whitney Gardner, Whitney Gardner (Illustrator)
$14.99
ISBN: 9781534455658
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - June 29th, 2021

This graphic novel was not your typical "person goes to camp and makes friends" story. As the book opens "Long Distance" seems to refer to the separation the main character, Vega, is experiencing from her best friend after moving to Seattle. Then her dad sends Vega to the "Very Best Friends" camp. Vega doesn't initially want to open up one bit and make new friends. She's fine with staying in contact with her old friend by phone - but she learns her cell doesn't get a signal way out here. Then Vega starts discovering weird staff at the camp. For one, the camp counselors are really weird, annoying and snoopy, and there's this kid at the camp whose parents supposedly run it. He keeps changing his personality to get people to like him more. It turns out there's a lot more going on than just summer camping activities. Vega has to work with others to figure out what's going on and possibly make new connections, learning that despite vastly different backgrounds, she and those she meets aren't that different after all. The story is very original, with diverse and realistic characters. I would recommend it for fans of sci-fi, adventures and graphic novels.

-Review by Michael, age 12