Definitely on the Wimpy Kid bandwagon, but less vicious with the satire and therefore all the more welcome. (Graphic novel....

ARIOL

JUST A DONKEY LIKE YOU AND ME

From the Ariol series , Vol. 1

Scenes from the life of a middle-grade Everydonkey.

Aside from a few tears after being suddenly struck by the expressions “dumbass” and “dumb as a donkey” (his mother gently joshes him out of his funk), Ariol travels a relatively gentle emotional landscape in this series opener. Giggle-inducing episodes usually involve Ariol’s friend Ramono the pig, who sets off a nose-to-nose, no-hands game of “pass the tissue” at school and later brings fake vomit on a class outing (“My dad had bought it to play a joke on my mom, before their divorce”). Other experiences range from providing commentary for a triumphant tennis match against illusory opponent Stevie McFailure to cutting up in gym and, in the finale, suffering a nightmare in which he has to choose between class crush Petula the cow or becoming an interstellar knight with beloved equine superhero Thunder Horse. Boutavant arranges the all-animal cast in large sequential panels that never look crowded even when the dialogue balloons multiply.

Definitely on the Wimpy Kid bandwagon, but less vicious with the satire and therefore all the more welcome. (Graphic novel. 8-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59707-399-8

Page Count: 124

Publisher: Papercutz

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more.

LONG DISTANCE

After moving to a new city, a girl attends a wilderness camp to help her make new friends.

When astronomy-obsessed 9-year-old Vega’s dad Wes gets a new job, the family moves from Portland to Seattle. Vega is not happy about this change and doesn’t want to leave her best friend behind, worrying they will grow apart. Vega’s dad Javi thinks making new friends will help her adjust, so he signs her up for Camp Very Best Friend, which is designed to help introverted local children build new friendships. Vega is not exactly eager to go but makes a deal with Wes, agreeing to try out camp as long as he tries to make a new friend too. It quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary outdoor adventure, and Vega and her fellow campers try to figure out what is really going on. The story smoothly incorporates STEM facts with insets on the page to define and highlight terms or tools. An unexpected twist toward the end of this fast-paced adventure that reveals the truth behind the camp will surprise readers. The clean, bright artwork is enhanced by panels of varying shapes and clear, easy-to-follow speech bubbles. Race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are not explicitly addressed; characters’ names and physical appearances indicate a broadly diverse cast starting with brown-skinned Vega and her two dads.

A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more. (Graphic fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5566-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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NIGHTLIGHTS

When a young girl’s imagination and creativity are co-opted by a mysterious new friend, she must find a way to regain what is rightfully hers.

Sandy is a brown-skinned, dark-haired girl with big black eyes and a vivid imagination. At night, as she goes to sleep, she catches the lights bobbing about in her room and turns them into anything she imagines. The next day is spent drawing the fantastical creatures from her dreams, much to the detriment of her schoolwork. When a tall, pale-skinned girl with purple hair befriends her, Sandy is excited, though there is something eerie and unsettling about her new companion. Her excitement soon turns to anger as Morfie enters her imaginative nighttime world and tries to take it over. Readers will cheer at the clever way in which Sandy regains control. Using a lovely palette that includes a liberal amount of rich, dark purple, Colombian-born Alvarez has drawn a world that harks back to her native Bogotá and days in Catholic school, evoking it in wonderful detail and atmosphere. Her pages are not crowded yet are filled with details that will engage readers. The beings that inhabit Sandy’s nighttime world are simply delightful. The album size, cloth spine binding, and spot gloss on the cover are the icing on the cake of this beautiful graphic novel.

A winner. (Graphic fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-910620-13-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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