PHELAN, Matt. Bluffton: My Summers with Buster. illus. by author. 240p. photos. Candlewick. July 2013. Tr $22.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5079-7. LC 2012947260.
Gr 3-6–Henry and his hometown of Muskegon, Michigan, may be ordinary, but neighboring Bluffton is anything but. The year is 1908, and vaudevillians have come to the resort town to relax for the summer. Intrigued by the visitors, Henry heads off to Bluffton and meets a young actor named Buster Keaton. The two boys quickly become friends, but each of them yearns for what the other has–Henry wants a life of show business and fame, while Buster wants a normal life filled with baseball and fishing. Phelan does an excellent job of showing an accurate portrayal of Buster Keaton, from his dangerous physical comedy routines to his alcoholic father; the facts flow so smoothly that it does not feel like historical fiction at all. Henry is undeveloped in the beginning and simply moves along Buster’s story, but the character really comes into his own later on when feuding with Buster and trying to put on a show of his own. Phelan’s watercolors are expertly rendered and soft in focus, but pop at just the right moments, simultaneously showing the sleepiness of the town, the glamour of show business, and the energy of summer. An author’s note and some photos explain a bit more about the real Buster Keaton. Overall, Bluffton is a rich and engaging story with a lot of charm, and will be a great choice for early chapter-book readers and graphic-novel fans.–Peter Blenski, Greenfield Public Library, WI
SHEN, Prudence & Faith Erin Hicks. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong. illus. by Faith Erin Hicks. 280p. First Second. 2013. pap. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-659-6.
Gr 6-9–The next student-body president will decide if the school will fund cheerleader uniforms or a robotics competition, and the cheerleaders are forcing the basketball captain to run against his friend Nate, the robotics club president. The line between jocks and nerds begins to waver, however, when the two warring factions enter a robot rumble for the prize money. The robot death matches are suspenseful and, like much of this novel, effectively illustrated with cinematic paneling and few words. Hicks’s angular illustrations nod to manga and are wonderfully expressive: the haughty cheerleaders are truly chilling. Tweens, teens, and all robot fans should enjoy this good-humored play on the ongoing battle between jocks and geeks.–Lisa Goldstein, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
YANG, Gene Luen. Boxers. 336p. ISBN 978-1-59643-359-5. pap. $18.99.
––––.Saints. 176p. ISBN 978-1-59643-689-3. pap. $15.99.
ea vol: illus. by author. (Boxers & Saints Series). further reading. First Second. Oct. 2013.
Gr 9 Up–Acclaimed graphic novelist Yang brings his talents to historical fiction in these paired novels set during China’s Boxer Rebellion (1899-1900). In Boxers, life in Little Bao’s peaceful rural village is disrupted when “foreign devils”–a priest and his phalanx of soldiers–arrive. The foreigners behave with astonishing arrogance, smashing the village god, appropriating property, and administering vicious beatings for no reason. Little Bao and his older brothers train in kung fu and swordplay in order to defend against them, and when Little Bao learns how to tap into the power of the Chinese gods, he becomes the leader of a peasant army, eventually marching to Beijing. Saints follows a lonely girl from a neighboring village. Unwanted by her family, Four-Girl isn’t even given a proper name until she converts to Catholicism and is baptized–by the very same priest who bullies Little Bao’s village. Four-Girl, now known as Vibiana, leaves home and finds fulfillment in service to the Church, while Little Bao roams the countryside committing acts of increasing violence as his army grows. Mysticism plays a part in both stories, and Yang’s spare, clean drawing style makes it clear that Vibiana’s visits from Joan of Arc and Bao’s invocation of the powerful Chinese gods are very real to these characters. The juxtaposition of these opposing points of view, both of them sympathetic, makes for powerful, thought-provoking storytelling about a historical period that is not well known in the West.–Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD
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The following titles are reviewed in the July print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Elementary and Middle School
CLIFF, Tony. Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant. illus. by author. 170p. First Second. Aug. 2013. pap. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-813-2.
EATON, Maxwell, III. The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Mud-Slinging Moles. Bk. 3. ISBN 978-0-449-81020-0; ISBN 978-0-449-81019-4. LC 2012034046.
––––. The Flying Beaver Brothers: Birds vs. Bunnies. Bk. 4. ISBN 978-0-449-81023-1; ISBN 978-0-449-81022-4.
ea vol: illus. by author. 96p. Knopf. July 2013. PLB $12.99; pap. $7.99.
EMERSON, Sharon. SPF 40. illus. by Renée Kurilla. 128p. (Zebrafish Series). S & S/Atheneum. 2013. Tr $19.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-9708-5; pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-9709-2; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5034-9. LC 2012014883.
GUIBERT, Emmanuel. Just a Donkey Like You and Me. Bk. 1. tr. from French by Joe Johnson. illus. by Marc Boutavant. 124p. (Ariol Series). Papercutz. 2013. pap. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-59707-399-8.
HARDMAN, John. Little Miss Daredevil: The Incredible Race! illus. by Bryan Beach. ISBN 978-1-4215-4072-6.
KENNY, Michael Daedalus. Mr. Strong: Good Thing I Came Along! illus. by Gabriel Corbera. ISBN 978-1-4215-4073-3.
ea vol: 80p. (Mr. Men Little Miss Series). Viz Media. 2013. pap. $6.99.
KREDENSOR, Diane. Ollie & Moon: Aloha! illus. by author. 48p. (Step Into Reading Comic Readers Series). Random. 2013. PLB $12.99. ISBN 978-0-375-97131-0; pap. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-307-97950-6; ebook ISBN 978-0-375-98129-6. LC 2012019152.
LEMKE, Donald. The Invincible Boy-Bot. illus. by Douglas Holgate. 128p. (Zinc Alloy Series). Capstone. 2013. pap. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-4342-4597-7.
ROMAN, Dave. Re-Entry. illus. by author. 192p. (Astronaut Academy Series). First Second. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-621-3.
SCHWARZ, Viviane. The Sleepwalkers. illus. by author. 96p. Candlewick. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-6230-1. LC 2012947253.
SHELLEY, Mary. Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus: Assembled From the Original Text by Mary Shelley in Three Volumes. adapt. by Gris Grimly. illus. by adapter. 208p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Aug. 2013. Tr $24.99. ISBN 978-0-06-186297-7; ebook $11.99. ISBN 978-0-06-223922-8. LC 2010046237.
TATULLI, Mark. Liō: Making Friends. illus. by author. 224p. Andrews McMeel/Amp! Comics for Kids Series. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4494-2558-6. LC 2012952343.
TENNAPEL, Doug. Tommysaurus Rex. illus. by author. 144p. Scholastic Graphix. 2013. Tr $19.99. ISBN 978-0-545-48382-7; pap. $10.99. ISBN 978-0-545-48383-4. LC 2012945113.
VANSANT, Wayne. The Graphic History of Gettysburg: America’s Most Famous Battle and the Turning Point of the Civil War. illus. by author. 96p. charts. diags. maps. Zenith. 2013. pap. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-7603-4406-4.
CHEN, Wei Dong. The Family Plot. Vol. 2. ISBN 978-8-9942-0891-6.
––––.Revenge and Betrayal. Vol. 4. ISBN 978-8-9942-0895-4.
––––.To Pledge Allegiance. Vol. 3. ISBN 978-8-9942-0893-0.
ea. vol: illus. by Xiao Long Liang. 172p. (Three Kingdoms Series). maps. JR*Comics. 2013. pap. $9.99.
DURIEUX, Christian. An Enchantment. tr. from French by Joe Johnson.illus. by author. 72p. notes. NBM/ComicsLit. 2013. Tr $19.99. ISBN 978-1-56163-705-8. LC 2012950214.
LARSON, Hope. Who Is AC? illus. by Tintin Pantoja. 176p. S & S/Atheneum.2013. Tr $21.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-6540-4; pap. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-2650-4. LC 2011052616.