The Prisoner of Shiverstone

Abrams/Amulet. Apr. 2022. 160p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781419743917; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781419743924.
Gr 4-7–While working on one of her inventions at boarding school, Helga accidentally makes radio contact with Erasmus Lope, a scientist who is trapped inside a crystal on an obscure island off the Mainland. Pretending to have been separated from her parents by a shipwreck, Helga infiltrates Utley Island, which is home to all of the mad scientists and inventors that the Mainland did not approve of. Once a prison, the island functions more like a town now (the town itself is located inside a crater) and is home to a variety of fascinating people, robots, and leftover inventions, as well as the shard of Shiverstone, the world’s first energy source. It becomes clear from flashbacks that Helga’s intelligence and interest in inventing are not appreciated by her family, school, or anyone else on the Mainland. Teaming up with robot Hedley, Helga tries to free Lope from the Shiverstone shard, while learning more about the town and the people who live there. This is a delightful, fast-paced read starring a protagonist whose love of science and adventure is at odds with societal expectations. Moore’s background as a painter and cartoonist shines through in the sharp, angular art; character designs, especially some of the expressions, are reminiscent of classic newspaper comics. Helga appears to be white, though the island’s residents include many people of color.
VERDICT Highly recommended for middle grade graphic novel collections.

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