Cici’s Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-in-Training

Joris Chamberlain, trans. from the French by Carol Klio Burrell, illus. by Aurélie Neyret. First Second, $17.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-62672-248-4
French illustrator Neyret’s delicate, finely worked portraits bring elegance to this pair of graphic stories. Ten-year-old Cici is determined to become a writer and introduces her cast of characters in journal entries: her single mother, her novelist neighbor Mrs. Flores (“After meeting her that day, I knew that I wanted to write books too”), and her friends Lena and Erica. Subsequent action toggles between panel artwork, Cici’s journal notes, and other correspondence. Cici successfully solves two mysteries—one in the forest that contains an abandoned zoo, the second in the local library—but her professional ambitions sometimes trip her up. More than once, she expects Lena and Erica to lie to her mother when she’s out investigating, and Mrs. Flores complains that Cici only consults her when she needs information. Tension between the friends heats up during the second mystery, and Cici repents. The stories are smart and Burrell’s translation is skillful, but they’re hobbled somewhat by the wooden first-person narration (“For the first time I shared a big secret with my mom. Could she feel my hand shaking?”) and dialogue. Ages 8–12. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2017
Release date: 11/07/2017
Genre: Children's
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