This solid addition to the series should please fans and newcomers alike.

THE MIDWINTER WITCH

Will Aster, accepted as a witch by his immediate family, find that approval with his extended family? And does Ariel, welcomed into the Vanissen fold, even want a family?

As the ward of the Vanissen family, Ariel’s now being trained in witchcraft, and in a world in which magic is passed down and learned within families, this should be a wonderful thing. But orphaned Ariel chafes against magical traditions and the emphasis on family, a response that appears to be the result of her understandable fear of abandonment and intimacy. Added to this are nightly dream visitations from a woman named Isabel Torres. Claiming to be her aunt, Isabel plants doubts about the Vanissens’ acceptance and feeds Ariel’s anti-traditionalist leanings. Meanwhile, the Midwinter Festival—an annual magical extended family reunion—is coming, and Aster wants to compete in the Jolrun for the title of Midwinter Witch. As the first boy to openly study witchcraft, he’ll be the first boy to compete. The Vanissens, Ariel, and nonmagical friend Charlie attend, but a surprise at the Jolrun causes conflict. Ostertag’s signature bold, clear, thick-lined illustrations are at work here, as are her fascinating magical world-within-a-world worldbuilding and thoughtfully inclusive approach to LGBTQ and racial representation. Aster is biracial, with a white mom and brown-skinned dad, Ariel has olive skin and dark hair, and Charlie is black, with two black dads.

This solid addition to the series should please fans and newcomers alike. (Graphic fantasy. 8-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-54055-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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