Bloom by Kevin Panetta
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Ari dreams of leaving his family bakery to start a new life in Baltimore with his band members. When Hector comes to town, to clean out his late Nana’s house, he finds a flyer looking for help at Ari’s family’s bakery. Ari and Hector are indifferent towards each other at first, as Ari’s friends make fun of Hector. The more time they spend together, Ari finds reasons not only to love baking again, but to reconsider his dream of moving away to start a new life. When Ari blaims Hector for a fire at the bakery and pushes him away, their relationship is tested.
The subtle blue hues throughout this graphic novel do a great job of conveying the searching tone present in this coming of age story. The story is about the love of baking as much as it is a love story between Ari and Hector. Bloom recreates that time after high school when we are all trying to figure out our next moves.The story is relatable, characters diverse and drawings captivating, especially those of the baking and landscaping.
Readers that enjoy Bloom may like the subtle romance in I Hear the Sunspot by Yuki Fumino, the many romantic flirtations in Fence by C.S. Pacat and slow burn romance in the first volume of Check Please by Ngozi Ukazu.The story would appeal to upper high school students and older teens.
Outpost Zero volume 1: The Smallest Town in the Universe written by Sean Kelly McKeever, illustrated by Alexandre Tefenkgi
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Over two decades ago a community named Outpost Zero was built on an icy, uninhabitable planet. In order to maintain their community, older teens are assigned to a team (for example, security, engineering, etc…) and start internships. Alea plans to follow in her parents’ footsteps and join the discovery team. Her internship starts early when her parents detect a massive storm cell heading their way. While everyone is on lockdown from the storm, Alea’s best friend, Steven, goes out the airlock and is presumed dead. Only loner Ben was with him in the airlock and knows what happened. While the storm could prove deadly to Outpost Zero, Alea and Ben discover that their community is full of secrets and maybe Steven knew this too and that’s what caused him to leave/die.
Outpost Zero is a great example of a science fiction, mystery mash up. The characters are compelling and diverse. They are not only dealing with a major crisis that could alter their lives forever, but also dealing with typical teenage problems: family dynamics, bullying and suicide. The artwork and colors are moody and great. Plus the cliffhanger ending will leave everyone anxiously awaiting the next volume.
Judging from volume one, this series will be perfect for fans of similar science fiction graphic novels like Skyward by Joe Henderson and On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden.
Pilu of the Woods written and illustrated by Mai K. Nguyen
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Little Willow loves going adventuring in the woods near her house where she lives with her older sister Linnea and her father. One day she discovers a wild forest spirit named Pilu near the Magnolia tree grove she would visit with her mom when she was younger. As her friendship with Pilu grows, they must both come to terms with the emotions and feelings they have bottled up; the monsters they keep inside.Together they fight these emotional demons to help each other find peace, and come to terms with losses they have each suffered.
The artwork in this story is gorgeous with a very beautiful color palette that really helps bring the emotionality of the characters to life; some pages bright and vibrant, others dark and stormy to reflect the moods of the characters.This story of love, loss and friendship will resonate with younger teens but has the depth of writing to reach older teens as well.
Teens who enjoy Luke Pearsons artwork in his Hilda series, and Sheets by Brenna Thummler should find this story as engaging and equally beautiful to read as well.
—Tina H Lernø