Broxo by Zack Giallongo
Princess Zora has traveled from her clan of the Granitewings to find the Peryton Clan and convince them to join the trading alliance that is being formed between the different clans. When she reaches Peryton Peak though, she does not find the bustling clan that she expected. Instead, it is a bleak and empty place. Broxo is one of the few who still live there, a young warrior who survives alongside his huge furry pet. There are others on the Peak too: a witch with a sordid history, the monster Gloth who hunts for flesh, and the hordes of undead who haunt the lake and the area around it. This graphic novel takes classic fantasy tropes and adds zombies, making for a thrilling read.
Giallongo is a newcomer to graphic novels, but has created one that will have you looking for all of his previous work. His pacing is a nice mix of quieter character-rich moments and wild dashes of action that leave readers breathless. The slow realization of what has happened on the Peak also makes for intense reading, leading the reader to want to figure the puzzle out.
The combination of a strong female lead and a strong male lead without any romantic entanglement is also refreshing. The theme here is about pride, family and redemption rather than heartbreak or just hearts.
A great graphic novel pick for middle school readers who will relish the zombies, the battles and the depth of the storyline. Appropriate for ages 11-14.
Reviewed from copy received from First Second.
Hands around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books by Susan L. Roth and Karen Leggett Abouraya
Told from the point of view of one of the protesters in modern Egypt, this is the true story of how the Alexandria Library was saved during the protests. As the crowd moved toward the library, which was built on the same ground as the ancient Library of Alexandria, the library director came outside and spoke to them. He pointed out that the library had no gates to lock and no way to protect the large doors made of glass. It was up to the people to save the treasures inside. The crowd pressed on and the shouting grew louder. But then one young man ran up the steps of the library and joined hands with the library director. Then more and more people joined hands, a living barrier protecting the library.
The writing here tells the story clearly and concisely. There is fear of the mob mentality woven into the story, a trepidation at what could happen with that many passionate and angry people in a large group. The energy of that mob and that mood carries the book forward. That moment of decision by the crowd hangs jewel-like in the book, the one person who does the right thing first and then those who follow. It’s a book and a story that pivots in a moment of bravery.
Roth’s collages capture the press of the crowd and its passion, but also the fact that these are regular people who were creating change. The illustrations have a flatness to them that works well much of the time. It is particularly effective when hands are joined in a chain.
A powerful look at the importance of libraries and the bravery of a few, this book is also a reminder that we are witnessing history being made. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books.