cover image Like Lava in My Veins

Like Lava in My Veins

Derrick Barnes, illus. by Shawn Martinbrough with Adriano Lucas. Penguin/Paulsen, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-5255-1874-7

Graphic novel and picture book merge in this red-hot superhero story from Barnes and Martinbrough with Lucas. On the first day at the Academy of Kids with Awesome Abilities (AKWAA), Bobby Beacon, who reads as Black, indicates that “Beacons lead people and show them the way.” Wielding “the power of light and fire,” Bobby sometimes has difficulties controlling these abilities—something the school is supposed to help with. But a run-in with a critical teacher ends with Bobby in the principal’s office, where it’s made clear that the Institute for Supervillains could be the next stop for Bobby, as it was for a fellow Black-cued classmate. Even so, a new teacher, Miss Brooklyn, demonstrates calming methods, and when Headmaster Chaos of the Institute for Supervillains crashes an assembly looking to recruit Bobby, the narrator uses their knowledge to save the day. Thin-lined hand-drawn artwork with bold shadow effects conveys the dynamism of old-school comic books in this story that underscores teachers’ import while portraying one child’s experience within an educational system that falls short in supporting its Black students. Miss Brooklyn reads as Black; the AKWAA principal and Headmaster Chaos cue as white. Ages 5–8. (July)