cover image Looking Up

Looking Up

Stephan Pastis. Aladdin, $13.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-6659-2962-2

In this deceptively funny illustrated novel about loneliness and grief, Pastis (the Timmy Failure series) introduces a girl striving to save her town from gentrification by latte-sipping hipsters. Saint has a massive crush on neighbor kid Daniel, who walks with a cane. Her heightened emotions compel her to steal his birthday piñata, throw eggs at his drawings, and show up at his door dressed as a skeleton knight speaking in medieval English (“Ye are my Daniel in Distress,” she pronounces). On top of her confusing emotions surrounding her crush, Saint is worried about all the fancy new coffee shops and condos springing up around town; she’s especially worried about how these new developments have compelled community members to move away. When she learns that Daniel will soon be leaving, too, she persuades him to aid her in her quest to save the town from developers. Pastis’s distinctive, heavily lined b&w illustrations effectively convey the protagonists’ depth of emotion via amiable faces composed of two dots for eyes and a c-curve nose, while prose contains his signature absurd humor, which lightens this meditation on mourning. Characters’ skin tone reflects the white of the paper. Ages 8–12. Agent: Dan Lazar, Writers House. (Oct.)