36 Booklist March 15, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
secrets to light and put an end to Fish Girl’s
solitude. Wiesner and Napoli, two longtime,
well-respected children’s book creators, have
turned their focus to graphic novels, and the
result is simply beautiful.
Napoli tells the story from
Fish Girl’s perspective,
and she is a smart, determined character, despite
her restrictive upbringing.
She and Livia appear to
be about 12 and have the
combination of impending maturity and childishness that is unique to
tweens. Their friendship is strong and believable, creating a solid foundation for a tale that
eschews The Little Mermaid’s reliance on romance as an agent of change. Caldecott-winner
Wiener keeps all of the subtlety and quirkiness
of his picture books and adds the clear panel
layouts and the skillful narrative flow of a well-executed graphic novel. His luminous colors
give the perfect touch of magic to this graceful, gentle story that will strike a chord with
fans of such Studio Ghibli movies as Ponyo.
By Irene N. Watts. Illus. by Kathryn
Mar. 2017. 128p. Tradewind, paper, $15.95
(9781926890029). 741.5. Gr. 4–7.
This beautifully rendered graphic novel tells
the story of Marianne, an elementary-age Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. She escapes
to the relative safety of Britain on a
kinder-transporte, ending up in the Welsh countryside
before the London Blitz. Marianne never gives
up hope that she will be reunited with her parents. She writes them religiously and hangs on
every word of incoming post from Germany.
The sketchy, dark pencil artwork elevates the
sense of dystopia that Marianne feels as she
floats from one foster home to the next. Although the story addresses heavy elements
of history (the Holocaust, systemic anti-Semitism, the separation of displaced families),
it maintains an optimistic tone throughout.
Marianne is a resilient and forgiving young
woman. She sees past the faults and judgments
of her foster families, focusing rather on her
gratitude for their willingness to shelter her.
This would make a gentle, highly visual addition to Holocaust curricula, or it could be an
excellent tool for introducing xenophobia and
refugee crises to upper-elementary and middle-grade readers. —Courtney Eathorne
Soupy Leaves Home.
By Cecil Castellucci. Illus. by Jose
Apr. 2017. 208p. Dark Horse, paper, $14.99
(9781616554316). 741.5. Gr. 7–10.
Fed up with her abusive father, Pearl runs
away from home, disguising herself as a boy
named Soupy. A hobo named Ramshackle
takes her under his wing and teaches her the
ways of the rails and how to see beyond the
pain of the world. But despite his training,
Soupy finds herself unwilling to face the de-
mons she ran away from. A mix of metaphysics
and historical fiction, Castellucci’s story doesn’t
allow either to overtake the other. Ramshackle
is a good man but he’s also clearly flawed, as
are many of the other characters Soupy en-
counters. She’s hard to get to know at first,
which fits with her cautious nature, but as she
gains confidence, more of her personality and
thoughts are revealed. Pimienta makes beauti-
ful use of single colors to highlight his strong
line art, switching from page to page to keep
the reader’s eye flowing across the tale. Though
the ending is a bit too easy, the story definitely
leaves contemplative readers with much to sa-
vor. —Snow Wildsmith
The Stone Heart.
By Faith Erin Hicks. Illus. by the author.
Apr. 2017. 256p. First Second, paper, $14.99
(9781626721586). 741.5. Gr. 6–10.
Kai and Rat narrowly thwarted an assassination attempt at the end of Hicks’ series
starter, The Nameless City (2016), and their
cooperation inspired the Dao general to create
a council of representatives from each of the
groups occupying the city rather than continuing his monolithic martial rule. For Kai
and Rat, as well as Kai’s father and the monks
with whom Rat has made a home, the council will be a welcome change. But among the
Dao, especially the general’s son, Erzi, there’s
grumbling resentment that threatens to boil
over into something much more violent. Hicks
delves deeper into the backstories of her characters in this volume, offering insight into their
motivations and further background about
the conflicts among groups living in the city
and its surrounding countryside. Her manga-inspired artwork is as lush and detailed as ever,
incorporating vast cityscapes, cinematic action
scenes, and quiet moments of meaningful,
often wordless, expression. While less happens in this book than in the last, Hicks lays
the groundwork for more thrilling events in a
forthcoming volume. —Sarah Hunter
Andrew the Seeker.
By Lee Nordling. Illus. by Scott Roberts.
Apr. 2017. 32p. Lerner/Graphic Universe, paper, $6.99
(9781512430677); lib. ed., $25.32 (9781512413304).
741.5. K–Gr. 3.
In this wordless graphic novel, young An-
drew starts drawing a friendly purple monster,
only to have him come to life right behind
him. It takes a few tries for Andrew to spot the
blobby purple creature, but when he finally
does, he puts on his pith helmet, grabs his best
net, and embarks on a trek into the forest to
catch him. Andrew is dogged in his search, but
the big monster easily evades him by comically
blending into the surroundings. Nordling and
Roberts come up with clever places for the beast
to hide, though his big purple stature will give
away his hiding place to everyone but Andrew.
Roberts takes the charming concept and cre-
ates a simplistic yet playful experience, and the
bright color palette is sure to please its young
audience. Roberts does a particularly great job
with Andrew’s facial expressions—as he chases
the monster ever longer, he subtly gets more
and more frustrated. Though the message of
playing fair might escape some readers, this
gentle, adorable adventure is nevertheless a
quick and enjoyable read. —Peter Blenski
CatStronauts: Mission Moon.
By Drew Brockington. Illus. by the author.
Apr. 2017. 160p. Little, Brown, $16.99
(9780316307475); paper, $7.99 (9780316307451);
e-book, $9.99 (9780316307468). 741.5. Gr. 2–5.
Earth is running perilously low on energy,
so the world’s best scientist proposes a daring
solution: a solar power plant on the moon! But
who has the moxie to pull off such a scheme?
Blanket, Pom Pom, Waffles, and Major
Meowser—the CatStronauts, of course. Brockington’s off-the-wall kitty sci-fi series packs the
full-color panels with cute cats, space travel,
and comical high jinks. The feline universe
is peppered with jokes, from the name of the
CatStronauts’ space agency to Waffles’ obsession with tuna, and the simplified, rounded
shapes of the cats and open panel layouts add
to the cartoonish appeal. Tension arises when
the CatStronauts encounter some trouble en
route to the moon, but with their combined
skills (and the help of Blanket’s top-secret
project), they return to Earth victorious. A
second installment, in which the CatStronauts
compete with other cat space agencies to reach
Mars, will be released simultaneously. Cats and
space are perennial favorites, and the combination here is sure to elicit lots of giggles among
middle-grade comics fans. —Sarah Hunter
By Kevin McCloskey. Illus. by the author.
Apr. 2017. 40p. TOON, $12.95 (9781943145157). 741.5.
McCloskey’s made a name for himself by
writing and illustrating engaging science comics for early readers, and this latest installment
in the Giggle and Learn series takes on fish.
After an abecedary of fish, a pair of kids and a
trio of animals share fish facts and important
exceptions. “Not all fish have scales,” says one
kid, and the following page reveals a sheepish
creature hiding its bare, purple body behind a
sign, “Some eels have no scales. They are naked
fish!” After covering basic fish features, such as
bones, gills, and fins, McCloskey gets to the
matter most likely to catch kids’ interest: pet
goldfish, which, in McClosky’s capable hands,
become quite grand. McClosky’s cartoonish
paintings in rich, saturated colors compellingly combine detailed, realistic images with
caricature-like renderings elsewhere, which
nicely echoes the playful combination of jokes
and science. With expressive figures, warm-toned backgrounds, and wide, open panels,
this straddles the line between picture book
and comic, making this fun, engaging volume
especially well-suited to kiddos just starting to
read on their own. —Sarah Hunter