cover image Stepping Stones (Peapod Farm #1)

Stepping Stones (Peapod Farm #1)

Lucy Knisley. Random House Graphic, $20.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-984896-84-1

Knisley’s autobiographical comics chops are on full display in her first graphic novel for kids, a fictionalized telling of her childhood experiences. When Jen moves to the country with her mother after her parents’ divorce, she is less than thrilled to trade urban comic book shops and Chinese takeout for chicken coop–related chores and her mother’s disagreeable new boyfriend, Walter. Resentment deepens as Jen helps her mom at the farmers market—left alone to handle sales though math isn’t her strong suit—and Walter’s two daughters, Andy and Reese, begin arriving each weekend to share her room. Missing her old life and feeling unfavorably compared to know-it-all Andy, Jen tries to adjust, finding expression and self-worth in her art as she comes to love her “part-time sisters” and navigates Walter’s seeming inability to treat her as equal to them. With specificity that lends itself to universality, Knisley balances humor and deeply felt emotion to capture the particular unfairness of being a child at the mercy of parental decisions. Art centers around the gentle realism of Knisley’s established style, augmented with pencil drawings in the young protagonist’s developing hand. Age 8–12. [em](May) [/em]