cover image Contact! (Cosmic Cadets #1)

Contact! (Cosmic Cadets #1)

Ben Crane, illus. by Mimi Alves. Top Shelf, $14.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-6030-9520-4

In their debut graphic novel, Crane and Alves craft a rambunctious space adventure about a group of tweens intent on stopping a galactic war. Jimmil and his mother live on the ESS Khonsu, an interstellar exploration craft. But with his mother as the captain, Jimmil experiences pressure to follow in her footsteps and often feels isolated from the crew. When a mysterious entity attacks a scout team exploring the surface of a purportedly uninhabited planet, Jimmil and his classmates hijack a space shuttle to save them. Upon crash-landing, rather than encountering the missing scouts, the group instead stumbles onto intelligent life that seems mostly friendly. But the kids have no way to communicate with the adults aboard the Khonsu, prompting the space-bound crew to engage in drastic measures to retrieve Jimmil and his pals, inciting a conflict of otherworldly proportions in the process. Alves’s jaunty illustrations render interplanetary flora and fauna via kaleidoscopic hues and free-flowing line art, and populate the narrative with a racially diverse cast. Crane’s use of familiar sci-fi tropes to explore mature themes of hostility, reconciliation, and peace skillfully complement Jimmil’s desire to prove himself and be seen as his own person. Ages 9–12. (Apr.)