Marshmallow & Jordan

First Second. Oct. 2021. 384p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781250300607; pap. $15.99. ISBN 9781250300614.
Gr 4-7–Jordan is a young basketball star in Indonesia. She’s named after Michael Jordan and even sports the number 23 on her jersey. An accident left her paralyzed from the waist down, and Jordan now uses a wheelchair. She’s allowed to play with her team at practice but not at games, a restriction that Jordan and her teammates find frustrating. Post-practice one day, she finds a wounded white elephant who follows her home. Everyone is charmed by Marshmallow, as Jordan names the adorable creature. She prays to Lord Ganesh, a Hindu deity with the head of an elephant, to help Marshmallow get better. The elephant becomes something of a mascot to the team and helps Jordan figure out how much she loves swimming. Her coach recommends her for an open spot on the water polo team, but the girls don’t immediately take to her and question her capability at the sport due to her disability. There’s a bit of friendship drama, but nothing an honest conversation can’t fix. Marshmallow and Jordan remain very close, even when it comes to light that Marshmallow might have an astonishing backstory. Vibrant shades and precise watercolors define Chau’s gorgeous illustrations. Jordan and most of the other characters are brown; some students are white. The story’s back matter contains a short glossary of Indonesian terms, food recommendations, and a note on how the climate crisis is affecting the area.
VERDICT An enchanting graphic novel about a girl and her elephant with truly lovely artwork. Highly recommended.

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