𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘢𝘳𝘥𝘣𝘰𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘒𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘥𝘰𝘮 tells the stories of a group of particularly creative kids in a suburban neighborhood and the worlds, communities, and identities they create using nothing but copious amounts of cardboard and their intense imaginations.
𝑹𝒐𝒂𝒓 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑩𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒕, the second volume of the budding graphic novel series, finds the youths gearing up for Hallowe’en, adding extra flair to their already elaborate costumes and constructions. Multiple sightings of a monstrous creature creeping around the community puts the kids on edge, however, as does the fact that one of their own is being targeted by teenage bullies. The combination of events threatens to not only ruin their holiday, but also tear the kingdom they’ve worked so hard to build asunder.
○ The first volume of 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘢𝘳𝘥𝘣𝘰𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘒𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘥𝘰𝘮 was one of the best books I read last year, so its follow-up was naturally highly anticipated. I pre-ordered it knowing nothing about it, but you can imagine, I’m sure, the joy I felt finding out it was not only Fall themed but centered around Hallowe’en, as well. Chad Sell and Company: delivering delights.
○ Sell’s spectacular artwork was a highlight in the first volume, and continues to be still.
○ There is wholesome queer rep here! Always lovely to see, especially in middle grade offerings.
○ A lot more focus on Alice the Alchemist, a morbid little creep of a character. She’s a favorite. So much fun.
○ The kids end up squaring off against The Teens, naturally. The set piece feels straight out of an ‘80s movie and I am here for it.
○ This book is a lot of fun. A lot more streamlined than the first book, which was more a collection of interconnected short stories (illustrated by Sell and written by various authors) rather than a straight, linear plot. I prefer the anthological approach, but this was a great effort.
○ As per last time, I appreciate the work Sell and his collaborators put into making these stories as inclusive and diverse as they could possibly be. This is a Hallowe’en romp, but it is also a quiet, careful exploration of mental health, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Heady, heavy themes that are handled in such a way that they don’t weigh down the story’s pulpy foundation.
○ Ultimately, I hope these creators continue to bring out hopeful narratives like this, because the kids of the world need and deserve them.