Coming Back

Random/Graphic. Dec. 2021. 256p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780593125434.
Gr 7 Up–A fantastical, body-positive, multi-ethnic, queer story about nontraditional families. Zabarsky (Witchlight) opens her story in a magical village of women talented in Shifting (the ability to change form, usually to become a giant) and/or Shaping (the power to move objects). Here, the deceased leave behind two seeds to be found by new parents to plant and nurture until the seed produces a baby. The village has one strict rule: Seeds and the resulting children must be raised by two parents. Valissa, the village librarian, lacks magical talent but embarks on a perilous quest to protect her village. She leaves behind Preet, her love and the village’s strongest magic wielder. In Valissa’s absence, Preet is exiled from the village for the crime of planting a seed and raising a child alone. While Preet and her gifted child meet new creatures in a far-off land, Valissa struggles through her own magical journey underground. Through trials and heartbreak, the lovers reunite, form a family, and return to inspire their village to embrace change. The artwork is soft and pillowy, with rounded edges, reminiscent of Steven Universe, with more muted colors. Preet and Valissa are brown-skinned, and other characters are diverse in terms of skin tone and body shape.
VERDICT Highly recommended. Queer and asexual young adults will relate to this story, as will those from adoptive and nontraditional families. Fans of rich fantasy worlds will also enjoy this book.

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