Sheets by Brenna Thummler
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Marj Glatt is a young teen struggling to run her family’s laundromat after her mom passes away and her dad has retreated into his grief. She’s also dealing with meddlesome Mr. Saubertuck, who is pressuring her into giving him the laundromat for nothing. Amidst Mr. Saubertuck’s sabotage attempts, Marj is facing off with a supernatural pest in the laundromat, Wendell the ghost.
Wendell frequents the dangerous human realm because he doesn’t quite fit in the land of ghosts, as he’s struggling to accept his death. He meets Marj after accidentally messing up her laundromat work overnight…again. Marj thinks Wendell is the one sabotaging her family’s business, and sends him away in anger. Meanwhile, Marj researches a local boy named Wendell who drowned and empathizes with the young ghost. Marj and Wendell figure out how to thwart Mr. Saubertuck, and, in the end, Marj runs a successful laundromat with the covert help of her new-found ghost friends.
The artwork in Sheets is rendered in a lovely palette of blues with pops of bright color that perfectly mirror its themes of grief, death, loneliness, lack of belonging, as well as its moments of levity. The story and art are reminiscent of a 90’s era cartoon, especially Wendell’s haunting and Mr. Saubertuck’s antics. Sheets explores death and grief in an accessible way and could serve as an excellent window or mirror book for teens experiencing or exploring these topics, with enough paranormal levity as to still be uplifting.
Hand Sheets to readers who enjoyed Anya’s Ghost, Telgemeier’s Ghosts, Friends with Boys, Lola, and This One Summer.
—Kristy Kemper Hodge
Son of Shaolin by Jay Longino and Illustrated by Caanan White
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Kyrie grew up in foster homes and never knew his father. After being followed by an older man in the subway one day he finds out that he is the last in the Tiger line of kung fu masters and he is in danger. There were once 5 master families, Tiger, Dragon, Snake, Crane and Leopard, but over time, they have disappeared. His missing father was the Harlem Tiger and helped fight crime in Harlem, but he was recently killed and crime is on the rise again. The last member of the Snake clan is trying to kill Kyrie now in order to gain his powers. Kyrie must train so that he can protect himself, his city and his inherited Harlem Tiger title.
This graphic novel is great because it’s a superhero story, but not your average superhero. Kyrie doesn’t wear tights or a cape, he’s not even sure he wants to be a hero. But with training he is able to be the kung fu master that runs in his blood. Kyrie is also a young black man, not often seen as the hero in superhero comics. It’s an entertaining story of a young man discovering himself and his skills to survive in a harsh world.
Son of Shaolin is definitely for older teens because there is a lot of fighting, violence and mature language. Anyone with an interest in superheros or kung fu/action stories will enjoy Kyrie’s story of a modern day reluctant superhero.
Illegal by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin and Giovanni Rigano (Illustrator)
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Ebo’s older sister, Sisi, left Ghana and now his brother, Kwame, has disappeared, only to leave a note saying he’s going to be taking the arduous journey to Europe to seek a better life. Now alone and refusing to be left behind, Ebo decides to try to catch up with his brother in Niger so they can make the trip together. The two must survive living on the streets, negotiating with human smugglers, and determining whether to trust others or go it alone.
Though fictional, the immigration story is very important today and Illegal shines light on the struggle of those escaping bad situations in an attempt to make a better life for themselves and their families. Rigano’s art is both playful and gritty, showing how rough it can be to take the journey but also how optimistic the main characters are. Ebo’s positive character is highlighted by his perseverance and his determination to complete the journey with his brother and reunite with their sister, no matter the cost.
Readers who enjoy Colfer’s and Donkin’s work on the Artemis Fowl graphic novels will appreciate this new story. Illegal also pairs well with other new migrant graphic stories such as Escape from Syria by Samya Kullab.