Book review: The Divided Earth, bu Faith Erin Hicks

Hicks, Faith Erin. The Divided Earth. (The Nameless City trilogy). First Second, 2018. $14.99. 268p. ISBN 978-1-62672-160-9. Ages 10-14. P8Q9

In the final entry of this trilogy, a series of fights and battles finishes the siege of the Nameless City by rogue Prince Dao as the forces of Dao and Yisun join against him. Kai finds his mother and works with Rat, who reveals her real name, to capture the formula for napatha that, like nuclear power, has both destructive and creative purposes. Together they stop Ezri, the General’s son, from completely destroying the city to start again.

Verdict: Despite its violence, this rousing graphic novel promotes peace, democracy, and cooperation, and the protagonists, despite their dysfunctional backgrounds, learn to trust each other. Details in the hand-inked and digitally penciled art gives a wonderful sense of the city and its inhabitants. The conclusion to the trilogy is more action-oriented, but it ties up the loose ends.

January 2019 review by Nel Ward.


Book review: It Will All Hurt, by Farel Dalrymple

Dalrymple, Farel. It Will All Hurt. Image Comics, 2018. $18.99. 176p. ISBN 978-1-5343-0672-1. Ages 14+. P6Q6

A collection of pieces from the author’s webcomic portrays lost children, a cat, and a robot who defeats the “red wizard” who keeps returning to torment them. Soft watercolor and ink drawings of the graphic novel oppose the harsh stream-of-consciousness narrative.

Verdict: The details and style of the illustrations are mesmerizing, but the loose plotting is sometimes very difficult to follow.

January 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Lowriders Blast from the Past, by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Raul the Third

Camper, Cathy. Lowriders Blast from the Past. (Lowriders series, #3). Illus. by Raul the Third. Chronicle,. 2018. $22.99. 123p. ISBN 978-1-4521-6315-4. Ages 10-14. P7Q7

In the third book about friends Lupe, Elirio, and Flapjack with gato, Genie, stories fill in the missing pieces of their first meetings. Plots in this graphic novel include how two bullies try to keep Lupe’s two mothers from entering a car show and the friends help them get qualified.

Verdict: Wordiness slows down this third book, but the art and use of indigenous words makes it valuable.

January 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Is This Guy for Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman, by Box Brown

Brown, Box. Is This Guy for Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman. First Second, 2018. $19.99. 260p. ISBN 978-1-626-72316-0. Ages 16+. P5Q6

Best known as Lafka in the television sitcom Taxi, Andy Kaufman also made his name as a stand-up comedian. His obsession with wrestling combined with his need to make people dislike him led to fame during his short life. Kaufman’s pretense as a lounge singer Tony Clifton and his practical jokes caused people to boycott his real funeral because they thought he was pulling another joke on them. As in Andre the Giant, Brown laboriously tracks his career and detailed conversations between Kaufman and Jerry Lawler in following the Memphis (TN) professional wrestling scene.

Verdict: Filled with trivia, this graphic biography for adults becomes tedious and Kaufman is not a likable subject.

January 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Lord of the Fleas, Dav Pilkey

Pilkey, Dav. Lord of the Fleas. (Dog Man series, book 5). Graphix/Scholastic Inc., 2018. $9.99. ISBN 9780545935173. 251 pgs. Ages 7-10. P7Q8

The book begins with the cartoon characters George and Harold, 5th graders, who open  with a tease of what’s to come in this silly yet meaningful story. Next, a brief introduction to Dog Man, a half dog half man crime-fighting sensation, which is a welcome review to newcomers to the series. Then the story begins, featuring Petey, “one supa evil enemy” and Li’l Petey, his clone, who is the “world’s greatest kitty.”  With the help of Li’l Petey, Petey is trying to do the right thing after being wronged by his friends. With lots of knock knock jokes throughout, and several “Flip-O-Rama segments, this graphic novel features a sincere message: there’s hope among life’s disappointments. The “Read to Your Cat, Kid!” section at the end is not to be missed.

Verdict: This graphic novel, full of lively pictures illustrating the engaging story makes reading fun and therefore an important addition to classrooms and libraries.

February 2019 review by Denyse Marsh.

Book review: Monster School, by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Lee Gatlin

Coombs, Kate. Monster School. Illustrated by Lee Gatlin. Chronicle Books, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9781452129389. Unpaged. Ages 8-12. P7Q7

This is a book about Monster School. Children will see something of their own school experiences in this dark book- for example classmates with a variety of characteristics and personalities, odd teachers, horrible homework, and new kids. Each poem or piece is set against gloomy, detailed (digital?) artwork.

VERDICT: Older kids will enjoy this book in the fall when they’re getting ready for Halloween. I found some spreads to be too crowded with text for young readers, but the humor will carry it for most.

November 2018 review by Carol Schramm.




Book review: Tiger vs. Nightmare, by Emily Tetri

Tetri, Emily. Tiger Vs. Nightmare. First Second, 2018. $17.99. 64p. ISBN 978-1-62672-535-5. Ages 6-10. P8Q8

“Monster is my friend,” Tiger tells her tiger parents in this graphic novel. Her parents think that Tiger is making up the monster, but Monster is real—playing with Tiger at night and scaring off all the nightmares so that Tiger can sleep peacefully. When Monster becomes afraid of her own nightmare, however, it is Tiger’s turn to protect her friend. Watercolors and pencil work in the panels and full-page spreads go from the warm yellows and oranges of daytime to the deep blues of night.

Verdict: This charming book presents multiple themes of friendship, victory over fears, cooperation, loyalty, and bravery. A bonus is that the parent Tiger calls “Dad” does most of the caregiving, and the gender of the other parent is unidentified. The nightmare monsters depicted might be a bit much, but the ending shows success at quashing them.

December 2018 review by Nel Ward.