Jane Yolen, . . Roaring Brook/First Second, $15.99 (160pp) ISBN 978-1-59643279-6
Aliera Carstairs attends a small high school in New York City and feels like an outcast in its crowds of cliques, jocks, goths, nerds, and preps. She's always been a loner and doesn't know where she belongs. The only control she has is fencing and the role-playing games she plays with her disabled cousin. Then the gorgeous and flirtatious Avery Castle becomes her lab partner, and a crush quickly ensues. Plus there's her mysterious practice sword with the irremovable ruby in the hilt. Famed YA author Yolen weaves a familiar tale of the heroine's journey, while addressing Aliera's helplessness before Avery's glamour. But Avery has some secrets of his own—cutting up frogs in lab class is his idea of fun—and all the threads converge at Grand Central Station in a botched first date that turns into a high fantasy adventure. Cavallaro's art is rounded and cartoony, handling action and the fantasy elements well while skimping a bit on characterization—his Avery is just a sorta cute cartoon boy, not a devastating heartbreaker, but Aliera is a strong and likable protagonist. Yolen weaves her knowledge of fencing vividly throughout the plot, powerfully creating romance, mystery, adventure, fantasy, and drama, all rolled into a strong narrative. Ages 11–up.
Reviewed on: 04/05/2010
Prebound-Glued - 160 pages - 978-1-61383-826-6
Prebound-Glued - 160 pages - 978-0-606-14452-0