Meesh the Bad ­Demon

Knopf. (Meesh the Bad Demon: Bk. 1). Mar. 2023. 304p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9780593372876; pap. $13.99. ISBN 9780593372869.
Gr 3-6–Twelve-year-old Meesh is a demon who would much rather spend time with her grandmother and care for flowers than learn to breathe fire or sharpen her horns. Bullied by her classmates for not being “demonlike” enough, Meesh spends most of her time watching fairy programs, but her world is upended when mysterious toxic lava turns everyone in the underworld to stone. Alone and frightened, she heads for Plumeria, the magical fairy realm, and finds herself in an uneasy partnership with Nouna, the star of Meesh’s favorite show, and an unlikely group of allies to save the underworld. The first in a series, this graphic novel is a heroine’s journey with strong middle-grade appeal. The manga-inspired illustration style features adorable and expressive characters and plays with the magical girl genre; Meesh and Nouna use ancient talismans to channel their powers and represent the popular light versus dark tropes familiar to manga and anime fans and fantasy readers. Characters have fantasy mainstays like wings and horns and present with different skin colors. The fantasy story addresses compelling real-life issues including bullying and subverting stereotypes.
VERDICT An excellent first purchase for middle grade collections.

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