Prunella and the Cursed Skull Ring

First Second. Oct. 2022. 160p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250162618.
Gr 2-5–Prunella lives in a walled village, among neighbors who are terrified of monsters. Prunella doesn’t worry about monsters; one day she’s digging in her garden and is transformed into a skeleton herself. She is swiftly banished and finds herself living with a cast of different types of monsters, all much kinder than the humans in her town, who help her as she tries to figure out how to turn back into a human. This colorful, lighthearted story explores themes of acceptance and fears of the unknown while remaining upbeat and plot driven. Prunella’s quest up Mount Leviathan, and the cast of skeletons, dragons, and giants she encounters along the way, will keep readers eager to see if she can turn back to a human, even as they will wonder why she would want to change from her skeleton form. The bubbly cartoon style lends itself well to the upbeat story and helps provide fuller character development of the spirited Prunella. The vocabulary is approachable, although some words may be challenging to younger readers. The context clues and illustrations will help comprehension, and there are plenty of wordless panels, which makes for a nice balance.
VERDICT This colorful story where the true monsters are the humans will appeal to young graphic novel fans who enjoy cartoony styles and fantasy elements. A suggested purchase for collections where graphic novels circulate well.

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