A dreamlike and existential rumination.

BUG BOYS 2

OUTSIDE AND BEYOND

From the Bug Boys series , Vol. 2

Bug BFFs marvel over natural wonders in their bucolic microcosm.

In this graphic-novel sequel to Bug Boys (2020), beetle best friends Stag-B and Rhino-B have more quiet adventures told in tiny vignettes. The duo ventures out of their quiet home, Bug Village, seeing new surroundings with wide-eyed awe and contemplating their roles within these settings. In “The Ultimate S’mores,” the pair go on a camping trip, and Stag-B feels inferior when compared to Rhino-B’s outdoorsy know-how until they decide to talk about their feelings, which helps Stag-B realize his own valuable strengths. In “The Pearl Dragon’s Castle,” the bugs explore a mysterious tower that seems to change uncannily with every step they take. They encounter a strange lavender dragon who claims to need help, leading them on a journey from frustration to collaboration. In the final tale, “Wave’s World,” they help a bat find a lost magical earring; riding on its back and gazing at their village from aloft, they admire the beauty of the night. Knetzger’s tiny tales are rambling and often surreal, thoughtfully examining both the beautiful complexity of nature and one’s place therein. With a muted, earth-toned palette, her illustrations firmly anchor readers in this intricately whimsical world. Perhaps not a splashy crowd pleaser, this sophomore effort may fare best when put in the hands of those seeking that which is both philosophical and introspective.

A dreamlike and existential rumination. (Graphic fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984896-78-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House Graphic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Korman’s fans will be right at home with this stand-alone novel.

SLACKER

From the Slacker series , Vol. 1

What could get the “Leonardo da Vinci of slackers” off his gaming couch?

Thirteen-year-old Cameron Boxer’s worked hard on his “lifestyle”: minimal effort at school and maximum time perfecting his gaming skills. His goal? Winning the Rule the World tournament with one of his two best friends, technical genius Pavel or loyal Chuck…but they have to avoid Evil McKillPeople, a Canadian gamer who for some reason has it in for Cam. Then the Great Ziti Inferno (Cam was too busy playing to take the ziti out of the oven as instructed) causes Cam’s parents to insist he unplug and do something with his life. The friends cook up a fake club, the Positive Action Group. They make Cam president and put a page on the school’s website, attracting the attention of do-gooder Daphne, who wants to save a beaver, class-president candidate Jordan, who needs a leg up in the election, along with reprobates and jocks who need to do community service. Suddenly the fake club is real, doing actual good, and sucking up valuable game time; that was never the plan! Prolific Korman turns in another group caper that would fit easily in his Swindle series. Cam’s borderline unlikable, and a few in the supporting cast don’t act like real people; but the tale, narrated by Cam and several others, is a pleasant diversion, though it’s not notable for its diversity.

Korman’s fans will be right at home with this stand-alone novel. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-82315-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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A coming-of-age tale that is both comforting and wonderfully peculiar.

SÉANCE TEA PARTY

As a girl struggles to navigate adolescence, she finds support from an unlikely source.

In this graphic novel, 12-year-old Lora Xi finds herself increasingly isolated. While her best friend and her classmates seem obsessed with parties, boys, and texting, her interests have remained fixed on witches, ghosts, and nostalgic activities of childhood. While throwing herself a séance tea party in the attic, she discovers a ghost, a girl about her age, named Alexa. The two become fast friends, with Alexa gently prodding Lora to reach out to peers and slowly engage in more social events. The energetic, flowing graphics embellished with colorful details reveal complex narratives for both characters. With the help of some old friends, Alexa eventually discovers more about her long-forgotten past, having lived in the same town 50 years prior. Lora finds the courage to participate in more social events while staying authentic. But the two friends gradually find their goals diverging, which leads to an emotional climax. While this is Yee’s middle-grade debut, she is a veteran of comic books, and it shows. She artfully balances complex character arcs and suspense while bringing a touch of fantasy and wonder without overcrowding the plot. Lora is of Chinese descent, and Alexa is White; Lora’s middle-class North American community is vibrantly diverse.

A coming-of-age tale that is both comforting and wonderfully peculiar. (author's note) (Graphic fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12532-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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