cover image Illegal


Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illus. by Giovanni Rigano. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $14.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-4926-6214-3

This achingly poignant graphic novel by Colfer and Donkin, collaborators on the Artemis Fowl graphic novels, imagines how one Ghanaian orphan ends up adrift in the Mediterranean. Ebo’s older sister Sisi is already in Europe, and he knows his brother Kwame is headed there, too, so Ebo sets out to find him. It’s clear that he succeeds, because the story opens on a scene of the two brothers drifting without food or water on the ocean. But in flashbacks, they see Ebo searching for Kwame in a teeming refugee hub in Niger. Punchy dialogue and wistful narration note both Ebo’s poverty and his gifts: optimism (“I’m stronger than I look,” he tells a boss), a talent for singing, and initiative (he parlays a box of wet wipes into cash by selling them one by one). Water is precious, and Ebo and Kwame endure periods of intense thirst. Rigano brings the brothers’ struggle close, but his magnificent panels include moments of beauty, too. Clouds tower above the ocean, and starry skies light the desert. Refugees, readers will understand, are not statistics; everyone is an individual. Ages 10–up. Agent: Susannah Palfrey, Hachette Children’s Group. (Aug.)■