cover image The Witch Boy

The Witch Boy

Molly Ostertag. Graphix, $12.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-338-08951-6

Magic fans will welcome Ostertag’s graphic novel about a modern-day forest settlement where girls become witches and boys learn how to be shapeshifters. Aster’s a boy who should be focusing on transforming into an animal; instead, to his family’s dismay and embarrassment, he finds ways to hang around when girls are learning witchcraft. Technical spell-casting details abound: “The containment rune would work for a while, but with the name of its subject, it will be much more powerful.” With the help of new friend Charlie, a human girl with beaded braids and a serious leg injury, Aster is able to deploy witch knowledge to save two of the settlement’s boys and uncover the truth behind his family’s darkest secret. Ostertag is in full control of plotting, dialogue, and visual techniques to advance the story with her sturdy panel artwork, and her family-centered narrative is warm and wholesome. Only the predictability of Aster’s dilemma—a template from other gender-difference stories dropped into a new setting—disappoints, though his family’s eventual acceptance is still satisfying when it arrives. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jen Linnan, Linnan Literary Management. (Oct.)