Ink Girls

Greenwillow. Nov. 2023. 288p. $24.99. ISBN 9780063027114.
Gr 4-6–It doesn’t take long for the titular Ink Girls to assemble into a mystery-cracking, government-changing force to be reckoned with in Nijkamp’s and Bi’s middle grade fantasy graphic novel. Set in the fictional town of Siannarra, Ink Girls tackles the modern, real world problems of corruption and censorship across a dreamy cityscape with a cast of engaging characters. When the town’s printer, Mestra Aronne, publishes an exposé of a royal family member, she and her tween apprentice Cinzia are taken into custody by the royal guard. Cinzia escapes from the guards and happens upon Elena, Siannarra’s unconventional princess, who wants to prove her worthiness as a leader. The two girls procure Mestra Aronne’s article notes and jump into finding the sources used for the scandalous article. Carlotta, a young pirate, soon joins the gang and adventures abound as the girls seek to uncover the truth and stop those that wish to control and scare Siannarra’s citizens. Nijkamp’s main characters are well thought out, with each girl playing a critical role in the adventure and overcoming her own challenges to achieve growth. Maybe most importantly, Ink Girls doesn’t spend a moment convincing readers that these girls are capable of solving the mystery and saving their village. It trusts the capability, tenacity, and determination of its main characters. Bi creates a world that will delight every fairy-tale lover with endless nooks and crannies; warm, jewel-toned vistas, and fancifully romantic fashions for every character.
VERDICT A beautiful book about the beauty of friendship, determination, and speaking ones’ truth. For fans of Amanda Castillo’s and Cameron Chittock’s “Mapmakers and the Lost Magic” series and Wendy Xu’s Tidesong.

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