This story follows a gardener who can see ghosts, and a ghost who has fallen in love with the gardener. Hamal tries to go about his day at the nursery where he works, but customers constantly complain about his odd behavior and how he talks to himself. But Hamal is actually talking to the ghosts, including his best friend, Blue. Blue and a few other ghosts keep getting swept into a creepy, dead forest. A reaper approaches Blue and reveals there is an unlicensed necromancer in the vicinity, and asks for Blue’s help, but Blue is sure it's Hamal, and he can’t betray him like that. The reaper catches up to them anyway, but gives Hamal a way to make balance between the world of the dead and the world of the living - work for the reaper, but the jobs aren't as gnarly as one might think working for a creature of death.
Illustrated by Jess Taylor
Taylor and her associates are posing as a makeshift family in a small town outside Metropolis, but they’re actually refugees from another planet, hiding from a cruel enemy called The Vane that destroyed their world. For an extra measure of protection, Taylor’s general and pretend father made Taylor’s disguise a human boy, even thought Taylor’s true identity is The Galaxy Crowned, Princess of Cyandii, and she feels out of place in her male body. She also has a guard "robot", an adorable sentient corgi who follows her and records what happens daily. When a girl named Kat moved to their small town, Taylor’s facade starts to really distress her, and she breaks her cover to reveal her true self to Kat. The community, however, isn't as accepting of having an alien in their midst.
Illustrated by Pablo Túnica
Aella is an adventure-loving girl stuck on a tiny island where nothing interesting ever happens. Her mother often leaves her behind to go on grand voyages, and Aella dreams of the day she can join her mother on one of her adventures. When a band of Knights comes to the island claiming to be seeking the destruction of demons, Aella's inner monster is awoken. She has the spirit of a fierce demon, Xir, inside of her, which has the destructive capabilities to wipe out life as they know it. Aella and a young knight steal away to find the seer who first told of Xir's rebirth, hoping there might be a way to expel the demon from Aella. But Aella isn't the only member of the family harboring a big secret - her mother turns out to be one of the most fearsome pirates on the known seas, and she's not giving up her powerful daughter so easily.
Clementine trudges through the wilderness with her bad prosthetic leg and a knife that she proficiently uses to kill Walkers. She happens upon three girls out on patrol, and one takes pity on Clem after seeing how much pain her leg is in. They take Clem inside the city to a man who had learned a thing or two about medicine and prosthetics, who sets Clem up with a much better-fitting leg. On her way out, she happens to walk next to Amos, an Amish boy on Rumspringa who is taking his horse-and-buggy up north to a "job" where the reward is flying in a plane. The two continue to this work site together, having decided safety in numbers, and find more teenagers recruiting able-bodies to build houses and get a homestead ready for folks that is far away from the Walkers. Nothing about The Twins seems trustworthy to Clem, who is always ready for any interaction with other people to go sideways at any moment.
Book 2: The Secret of the Wings, illustrated by Michael Dialynas
Wynd and his friends have escaped Pipetown, but what they've found outside the walls is a world unlike what they were told. The King of Pipetown makes an unexpected alliance with the Vamps, specifically the sister of his dear hunter, the Bandaged Man. He wants her to scare his son, but bring him back to Pipetown alive. General Zedra of the Vamps seizes on the opportunity to sew more chaos into the world and potentially settle some very old scores between her people and some of the other inhabitants of Esseriel. After the Vamps decimate the Duke's small fleet of ships, Wynd, Yorik, Oakley, and a gravely injured Thorn find themselves in the Faery city of Escalon. But, they aren't safe there for long either.
Illustrated by Robyn Smith
Nubia and her friends are hanging outside the local convenience store, sharing or bemoaning how they will spend their upcoming summer vacation. Oscar shows up, someone Nubia likes, and the other two make a quick retreat. Nubia psyches herself up to talk to her crush, but the store is held up by robbers at gunpoint. When Oscar is threatened by a gunman, Nubia does the only thing she can think of to save his life: throw an ATM at the perpetrators. But this breaks one of the cardinal rules of her moms: don’t use her superpowers, and definitely don’t do it in front of people and/or cameras. Amera and Danielle, Nubia’s moms, go into damage control to see if this is another situation where they need to up and move. Instead, they stick it out with the help from someone special from Prince Securities. This kicks off a series of decisions where Nubia acts against her moms’ rules, but usually only in order to protect someone she cares about. Nubia has to come to terms with her abilities and the responsibilities they bring, all while figuring out who she wants to be.
Edited by Laurie Halse Anderson
This collection of stories is modeled after some other versions that celebrated Wonder Women in the real world. Anderson and DC Comics have brought together women creators to pay homage to powerful women who are inspirational. Some of the tributes include Beyonce, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Serena Williams, Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg, and so many more. Several of these stories are shedding light on amazing women who may not have been in the spotlight in their time. There are engineers and scientists who are heading programs to encourage girls to get into the science fields; there are disabled activists who fought for the rights that eventually became protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act; and, there are LBGTQ+ activists who fought for marriage rights and the right to exist on the streets of New York.
Grace’s entire village is plagued by a fast-spreading infection of Dark-bark, an evilness that grows from dark magic of the worst kind. Infected people (and animals) slowly grow bark over their skin, sprout little trees, and eventually, can’t resist the urge to recede into the forest and follow the candles of the evil witch. In another town, Ava and Idris struggle to survive as they are kicked out of town after town for being spell-casters. While trying to find shelter for the night in the forest, Idris and Ava discover the dark bark infection, and Idris becomes infected. They race to find the source of the magic so they can reverse everything. Grace, meanwhile, is tired of waiting and watching everyone in her village leave as infected folk. They barely keep her mother from venturing into the forest, and that’s when she becomes completely fed up. She decides to take matters into her own hands and confront the witch in the forest, or possibly even find a spell that can stop all of this for good.
This collection brings together three Japanese folktales where there is something very tempting that must not be opened. The first tale is of a young boy who saves a turtle and is invited to come under the sea to a magical kingdom. He stays for what he feels is a short amount of time, but when he goes back to the surface, it has been 30 years, and his family is gone. The queen of the ocean gave him a box before he left, and if he opens it, he’ll be taken back to the Ocean Kingdom. In the second story, a master tells his apprentices not to open a jar that supposedly contains a deadly poison, but they suspect has something delicious that their master wants to horde for himself. In the third tale, the main character saves a crane in the forest one day, and is visited by a beautiful young maiden the next. She is caught in a snow storm and he offers her shelter, and it turns into a much longer stay and an eventual marriage. In need of money, so goes into another room to spin some cloth and begs her young husband not to open the door despite what he might hear.
Illustrated by Steph C.
Jessica Cruz is a high school junior with lots of difficult decisions to make. She has to decide to renew her DACA status, something that will put a target on her back but might help keep her undocumented parents safe. She has to fill out college applications and hope her own undocumented status won’t jeopardize her goals. She helps her family around the house as much as she can, and she has landed a prestigious museum fellowship. All of this leaves little room for friends and hanging out. When her father is taken away by ICE agents, Jessica finds herself stuck between two warring Aztec gods - one says she should be a bridge for her family and friends and lean on them, the other tells her to take action against ICE and save her father by using her anger to fuel her.
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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