Witches of Brooklyn

Graphic/Random/. Sept. 2020. 240p. Tr $23.99. ISBN 9780593119280; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780593119273.
Gr 4-7–After the untimely death of her mother, 11-year-old Effie is sent to live with her old aunt Selimene in Brooklyn, to the initial displeasure of both. Aunt Selimene allows Effie to believe that the business that she and Aunt Carlota run out of their home is rooted in herbalism, but the two women are actually witches. Despite many clues, this realization comes slowly to Effie, who is preoccupied with settling in, bonding with Selimene and Carlota, and making friends in her new school. Things become clear when, late one night, pop star Tily Shoo shows up at the house seeking a cure to a curse that’s made her face turn red. Effie discovers what Selimene and Carlota are really up to—and some exciting truths about herself. This gentle fantasy tale offers magical excitement and high stakes that never become frightening or dangerous. Escabasse shifts from intricate spreads fleshing out the setting to character-centric sequences, often packed with humor and outsize emotions. Highly expressive lettering brings dialogue to life. Effie’s trajectory is satisfyingly positive, as she moves from grieving to finding a comfortable place in her new home and kind friends. Effie, Carlota, and Selimene have peach skin; Effie’s hair is black, and Selimene and Carlota’s is gray. The way Effie and Carlota’s eyes are drawn, along with a few frustratingly vague background details, seems to indicate that they are Asian, but their race is not explored in enough detail for readers to gain full clarity.
VERDICT Hand to readers looking for a cozy fantasy like Eiko Kadono’s Kiki’s Delivery Service or Katie O’Neill’s The Tea Dragon Society.

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