cover image One Year at Ellsmere

One Year at Ellsmere

Faith Erin Hicks. First Second, $22.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-2502-1910-7

Juniper (“Jun”) is the first and only scholarship student at the prestigious Ellsmere Academy for Girls, a castle turned boarding school founded for girls to study science and literature. With thrift store clothes, a $10 haircut, and a single mother, Jun finds that her initial hesitation about attending alongside rich kids morphs into a close friendship with her roommate, Cassie, and an engaging rivalry with mean-girl Emily. Both outcasts, Jun and Cassie bond over Emily’s cruel treatment and investigate the history of Ellsmere’s forest, where the founder’s sons disappeared nearly two centuries ago. Jun’s rivalry with Emily comes to a head as Emily threatens Jun’s last connection to her late father and perfectly captures Hicks’s (Pumpkinheads) primary strength: clear character motivations, in which readers feel invested, that create dramatic situations. Panels are broken out to capitalize on specific moments, creating a variety of impactful emotional beats: sardonic retorts, profound loneliness, smug satisfaction, and doe-eyed vulnerability. Previously published in black-and-white, this edition sports updated line art and solid color work by Shelli Paroline that subtly enhances Hicks’s original art. Ages 10–14. [em](July) [/em]