"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

15 October 2018

Bloom


Panetta, Kevin. Bloom. First Second, 2019.

Ari has just finished high school and is excited to move to the big city with his band and pursue his love of music, but his family is insisting that he stay home and help run the bakery in the hopes that they will not have to close it down. Ari finds Hector to replace him at the bakery. Hector is in culinary school and loves to bake, and Ari finds himself drawn to Hector. But what about the band and Ari's musical pursuits?

This is a lovely graphic novel love story that is perfect for teens still searching for their place in the world. Ari isn't sure what he wants to do with himself, but he is definitely sure he doesn't want to bake. Maybe. Probably. The blue palette used for the panels is appropriate for the wistful tone of most of the story and helps to keep the focus on the characters and their relationship. Ari's love for Hector is beautiful, especially considering that it happens organically in the tale and that this isn't a coming out story, but rather a love story where the two main characters are male. Recommended.

Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: none
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley for the purpose of review.

12 October 2018

The Whispers


Howard, Greg. The Whispers. G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR, 2019.

Riley believes in the old tales of the Whispers, forest creatures who can grant wishes if you bring them tribute. He also thinks they know what happened to his mama and how he can take care of what he refers to as his "other problem," aka his crush on an older boy. But he's having difficulty convincing anyone else that the Whispers are real.

This is a whimsical story of a boy who still believes in miracles and fairy creatures, but who is also struggling with a family with a missing member and who hasn't yet come out to anyone and is relentlessly teased. This mashup of contemporary fiction and fantasy makes for a few awkwardly written transitions between the two, and Riley's inner monologue doesn't always read true for a junior high student. Nonetheless, the fantasy element will draw readers in, particularly those who have enjoyed fairy tales in the past.

Recommended for: tweens
Red Flags: some homophobic commentary from Riley's classmates
Overall Rating: 3/5 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Edelweiss for the purpose of review.

10 October 2018

Kiss Number 8


Venable, Colleen AF. Kiss Number 8. First Second, 2019.

Amanda's first seven experiences with kissing haven't sold her on it being a wonderful idea, but her friends seem obsessed with it, and she is determined to find out what's so exciting about it. Her eighth kiss involves another girl and sets in motion the possibility that maybe she likes girls and not boys and maybe that's why kissing hasn't worked for her so far. Her family is holding back some secrets as well, and Amanda is determined to get to the bottom of that just as she is set on hiding her newfound crush from her family.

This is a fairly typical coming-out style story, with appropriate characterization for Amanda's teenage friends. LGBTQ+ representation is very important in all aspects of literature, including graphic novels, so I would readily purchase this book for my library's shelves, although I am not certain that it would circulate well.

Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: language, underage drug and alcohol use
Overall Rating: 3/5 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley for the purpose of review.

08 October 2018

Toxic


Kang, Lydia. Toxic. Entangled Teen, 2018.

Hana has been hidden on a bioship her entire life. She is not allowed to leave her room, which her mother arranged to have hidden even from the ship's map. No one really knows she's there. But her ship is dying, and when a crew comes aboard to observe the slow death of the ship, Hana decides she wants to live.

This is a good book for fans of Across the Universe or other epic science fiction stories that focus more on the characters and their relationships than on the exploration or science aspects. It would also be easy to recommend this book to teens who enjoy John Green's stories, because these may have a different setting, but the plot is still quite similar.

Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: none
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley for the purpose of review.

05 October 2018

Crush


Chmakova, Svetlana. Crush. JY, 2018.

Following up where Awkward and Brave left off, Crush follows Jorge, a quiet guy who is known as the sheriff in school because he uses his size to help others. He has a crush on a friend but doesn't know how to tell her. Will he be able to ask her out to the school dance? And how will his other friends react?

There's a lot to like in this continuation of the series: tons of diversity in the student body and staff at the school, good life lessons, plenty of teen drama. The brightly colored illustrations match the overall happy and hopeful tone of the story. This book is sure to be popular with graphic novel fans. Recommended.

Recommended for: teens and tweens
Red Flags: none
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley for the purpose of review.