Tag Archives: Kibuishi (author)

Explorer: The Lost Islands Review

explorer_2Explorer: The Lost Islands (Explorer #2) edited by Kazu Kibuishi

Harry N. Abrams, 2013. 978-1-4197-0883-1

Synopsis: Take a journey out onto the ocean to visit one of seven strange, fantastic, mysterious islands created by seven amazing graphic artists. Whether you are there because it is home or because of a shipwreak, this collection is sure to inspire an island adventure of one’s own.

Why I picked it up: I wanted something short and quick to read between longer novels.

Why I finished it: The second installment in the Explorer series doesn’t fail to leave the reader in awe. Fish, rabbits, and humans alike populate the seven graphic stories that take on a wide variety of topics on the same subject of islands. My favorites were “The Mask Dance” by Chrystin Garland and “Loah” by Michael Gagné. I loved Garland’s story because it reminded me of an island festival or a Day of the Dead celebration that takes a somewhat frightening turn. Gagné’s story was both visually stunning and compelling, telling a story that is a version of “The Rainbow Fish” but where the titular fish is less selfish. This collection still has the same elements of the fantastic as the previous book and even manages to up the bar. There truly is something for everyone in these collections and I excited to read more!

Other related materials: The Lost Islands (Explorer #2) edited by Kazu Kibuishi; The Hidden Doors (Explorer #3) edited by Kazu Kibuishi; Flight Explorer edited by Kazu Kibuishi Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Copper by Kazu Kibuishi; The Legend of Korra graphic novels  by Michael Dante DiMartino, illustrated Irene Koh; Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke; Mighty Jack series by Ben Hatke; Missle Mouse books by Jake Parker; Bad Island by Doug TenNapel; Cardboard by Doug TenNapel; Bone series by Jeff Smith

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Explorer: The Mystery Boxes

explorer_1Explorer: The Mystery Boxes edited by Kazu Kibuishi

Harry N. Abrams, 2012. 978-1419700095

Synopsis: Funny, fantastic, spooky, and suspenseful, each of these unique and beautifully illustrated short graphic works revolves around a central theme: a mysterious box and the marvels—or mayhem—inside. Artists include middle school favorites Kazu Kibuishi, Raina Telgemeier (Smile), and Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), as well as Jason Caffoe, Stuart Livingston, Johane Matte, Rad Sechrist (all contributors to the groundbreaking comics anthology series Flight), and upcoming artist Emily Carroll. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I love a good anthology of short stories.

Why I finished it: What I love about short stories is that the author/artist only has a few pages to craft a complete universe with well-rounded characters and an engaging plot. The storytellers in this collection take the theme of mystery boxes and make it their own. All of the stories have a distinct fantasy and mythology feel that will take the reader into outer space, magical lands filled with strange monsters, and even into the kitchen with crazy superstitious grandmothers. Carroll’s story is arguably the creepiest (for me, anyway), creating a mash-up between a traditional and modern ghost story that had chills going down my spine. Most of the rest of the stories have a lighter feel to them, though they are no less dramatic. I appreciated the differences in the art and storytelling styles because it gives the reader a wider spectrum of material to enjoy. Kibuishi has put together a fun and engaging collection of stories and I am eager to read the other books to see what other author/illustrators I might need to check out.

Other related materials: The Lost Islands (Explorer #2) edited by Kazu Kibuishi; The Hidden Doors (Explorer #3) edited by Kazu Kibuishi; Flight Explorer edited by Kazu Kibuishi Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Copper by Kazu Kibuishi; The Legend of Korra graphic novels  by Michael Dante DiMartino, illustrated Irene Koh; Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke; Mighty Jack series by Ben Hatke; Missle Mouse books by Jake Parker; Bad Island by Doug TenNapel; Cardboard by Doug TenNapel; Bone series by Jeff Smith

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Amulet: Firelight Review

amulet_7Amulet, Book 7: Firelight by Kazu Kibuishi

Graphix, 2016. 978-0-545-43316-7.

Synopsis: Emily, Trellis, and Vigo believe they finally have a clue about how to defeat the Elf King, but the advantage could come at a high cost. The place that the trio must search has been known to be a dangerous place for stonekeepers and could help the stone get a mental hold over their keeper. Meanwhile, Navin and Aly are running into some troubles of their own. It seems that the Elf King has raised the bounty on their heads and they must outwit numerous bounty hunters if they are going to reach Frontera.

Why I picked it up: I had to catch up since Book 8 is coming out in September!

Why I finished it: This series keeps getting better and better as it goes on, not to mention the plot becomes more and more complex as the reader journeys further into the world. Previously, Emily has been confident that she will be able to resist the voice of the stone. The spirit begins to show her visions of a life that she could have had if her father had survived the car crash, a life that seems to spark further conflict within her. Trellis and Vigo have warned Emily about her ability to resist the temptation to surrender control to her stone, but she still feels she has complete control. The reader has been hearing about the dangers of listening to the spirit within the stone, but it has become much more real now that our heroes are getting closer and closer to finding answers. Navin, Aly, and General Pil are having some issues of their own, starting with needing to find transportation to Frontera. But the friends they make along the way prove to be helpful allies. They remind Navin about the importance of family and help to give him the courage to forge ahead though the circumstances seem to change moment by moment. Kibuishi is going a little bit darker in this installment, and I have a feeling that things are going to get worse before they get better. He’s continuing to add depth to the characters and giving us more reasons to root and cheer for them. It’s an engaging read that will have fans on the edge of their seats waiting for more.

Other related materials: Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 4: The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 5: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 6: Escape from Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 8: Supernova by Kazu Kibuishi; Explorer: The Mystery Boxes by Kazu Kibuishi; Flight Explorer, Volume One edited by Kazu Kibuishi; Zita the Spacegirl graphic novels by Ben Hatke; Cleopatra in Space graphic novels by Mike Maihack; Babymouse graphic novels by Jennifer L. Holm & Matt Holm; Bone graphic novels by Jeff Smith; Missile Mouse books by Jake Parker; The Secret Science Alliance books by Eleanor Davis; Dragonbreath books by Ursula Vernon; Big Nate books by Lincoln Pierce; Chickenhare by Chris Grine; Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot graphic novels by Dav Pilkey, illustrated by Dan Santat

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Amulet: Escape from Lucien Review

amulet_6Amulet, Book 6: Escape from Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi

Graphix, 2014. 978-0545433150.

Synopsis: Things are complicated. But when there is a war going on, what isn’t complicated? There’s so many things that could tip the balance and it’s hard to know where loyalties lie. But with this mysterious Voice calling the shots, there’s no telling what will happen next, or even if those fighting will see another day. With so much at stake, the group once again splits: Emily goes with Max to see if the Voice can be reasoned with while her brother Navin and his classmates journey to the abandoned city of Lucien to seek out a rescue beacon. Danger lies around the corner, but Emily and Navin are both confident that they will be able to make their way back to each other and their family.

Why I picked it up: I basically love everything about this series.

Why I finished it: This is the part where I quantify that last statement. Kibuishi’s series is for middle readers and young adults, but there are so many complexities to the plot and the characters that makes it appealing to readers of all ages. The reader has been introduced to a world in which there used to be a clearly defined contrast between what was ‘good’ and what was ‘evil’, but over the many years before our story has begun, those lines have become blurred. As a result, even those characters who believed they knew what they were fighting for are forced to question the motives behind their actions. And the more the series goes on, the more in depth we are seeing the conflict, not only externally but also internally for these heroes to which we have been introduced. Emily and Navin continue to be faced with conflicts and puzzles for which they and their comrades must coordinate some plan of action that will get us to a happier ending. With the group splitting once again, the drama has become more heightened, and the reader can’t help but feel nervous as each party expands and contracts. The art, in my opinion, continues to be top notch and within each panel the reader can feel the emotions coming through in the color schemes Kibuishi and his colorists have created: earth tones give us a heightened sense of anticipation as confrontations become violent, blues give a simultaneously calm but eerie quality to many interactions. The fantastic and the realistic are beautifully blended to give the reader a story that transcends not only age, but genres. As the series continues, I will eagerly follow the path our heroes are taking and look forward to seeing how the journey will eventually end.

Other related materials: Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 4: The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 5: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi; Explorer: The Mystery Boxes by Kazu Kibuishi; Flight Explorer, Volume One edited by Kazu Kibuishi; Zita the Spacegirl graphic novels by Ben Hatke; Cleopatra in Space graphic novels by Mike Maihack; Babymouse graphic novels by Jennifer L. Holm & Matt Holm; Squish books by Jennifer L. Holm & Matt Holm; Bone graphic novels by Jeff Smith; Missile Mouse books by Jake Parker; The Secret Science Alliance books by Eleanor Davis; Dragonbreath books by Ursula Vernon; Big Nate books by Lincoln Pierce; Chickenhare by Chris Grine; Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot graphic novels by Dav Pilkey, illustrated by Dan Santat

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Amulet: Prince of the Elves Review

amulet_5Amulet, Book 5: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi

Graphix, 2012. 978-0545208895

Synopsis: Max has captured the Mother Stone and Emily and her friends are the only ones who can stop him. With the power of the Mother Stone, the Elf King plans to create new amulets and create an army to destroy Windsor. When Emily seeks help from the voice of her amulet, she finds that it could be much more dangerous to trust that she initially thought.

Why I picked it up: Well, it’s a series, and I want to know what happens next!

Why I finished it: Kibuishi is definitely upping the ante in this book and the story is definitely going in a slightly darker direction as we discover more about the voice of the amulet. We are also learning more about Max and the Elf Prince Trellis, adding a little different dynamic to the book as we move the focus off Emily and Navin. Both Max and Trellis both have wrongs in their past that they are trying to right which is helping to fuel their actions and helping the reader better understand their motivations for doing what they are doing. Emily’s conversations with the voice of her amulet are equally enlightening, giving the reader the impression that she probably shouldn’t be relying very heavily on the voice for advice. Then again, the voice has been at this a lot longer than Emily, so it knows what it is talking about, but it is clear that Emily needs to be in touch with herself and her own convictions in order not to fall into a trap that she won’t be able to make her way out of. I can’t wait to see how things develop as we continue to move through the story.

Other related materials: Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 5: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi; Explorer: The Mystery Boxes by Kazu Kibuishi; Flight Explorer, Volume One edited by Kazu Kibuishi; Babymouse graphic novels by Jennifer L. Holm & Matt Holm; Squish books by Jennifer L. Holm & Matt Holm; Bone graphic novels by Jeff Smith; Missile Mouse books by Jake Parker; The Secret Science Alliance books by Eleanor Davis; Dragonbreath books by Ursula Vernon; Big Nate books by Lincoln Pierce; Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search, Part 1 by Gene Luen Yang; Chickenhare by Chris Grine

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Amulet: The Last Council Review

amulet4coverAmulet, Book 4: The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi

Graphix, 2011. 978-0545208871

Synopsis: Emily and her friends think they will find the answers they seek in the lost city of Cielis, but something isn’t right. Emily is separated from her family and taken to the Academy, where she is told she will compete for a spot on the Council of Guardians. Meanwhile, while her friends roam the streets they notice that the city seems to be abandoned. Is Cielis a ghost town or a trap?

Why I picked it up: I am completely, totally, and utterly addicted to this series.

Why I finished it: The mystery deepens further in this volume as we are introduced to more new characters that will aid or hinder Emily in her quest. This volume also as a Hunger Games element to it: young stonekeepers compete for a place on the council through war game-like trials that test their strength both mentally and physically. As if the reader wasn’t aware by now, there are more pieces of the puzzle surrounding the disappearance of the city and the seclusion of the Guardian Council, some of which are being fit together, but there is still a lot of storytelling to go before we can see the bigger picture. This volume is also darker in terms of the color palate Kibuishi uses for the city of Cielis; the exterior of the city is colored with soft browns an beiges contrasting with the city catacombs are deep blues and greens that heighten the tensions between Emily and the other Academy members. The drawing is very lyrical and everything flows as we move from the city streets down into the underground chambers and lends itself well to helping the reader understand the story. I’m anxious to see what comes next.

Other related materials: Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 5: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi; Explorer: The Mystery Boxes by Kazu Kibuishi; Flight Explorer, Volume One edited by Kazu Kibuishi; Babymouse graphic novels by Jennifer L. Holm & Matt Holm; Squish books by Jennifer L. Holm & Matt Holm; Bone graphic novels by Jeff Smith; Missile Mouse books by Jake Parker; The Secret Science Alliance books by Eleanor Davis; Dragonbreath books by Ursula Vernon; Big Nate books by Lincoln Pierce; Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search, Part 1 by Gene Luen Yang; Chickenhare by Chris Grine

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Amulet: The Cloud Searchers Review

amulet_3Amulet, Book 3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi

Graphix, 2010. 978-0545208857

Synopsis: Emily and Navin continue in their quest to restore order to the world of Alledia, and in order to get help for their cause, they must search for the lost cloud city of Cielis. But first, they have to find an airship to get them there, a pilot who doesn’t think they’re crazy, and a way to throw off the Elfin assassin following the group.

Why I picked it up: Read the first two and had to keep going – isn’t that how series work? 😉

Why I finished it: The title reminded me of the anime Last Exile, which shares a lot of the same steampunk elements of this chapter of Emily and Navin’s story. In this volume, we also see the tension heightening as old enemies become uneasy allies and more formidable foes enter the picture. The reader also sees Emily and Leon continue to hone her skills as a stonekeeper and learns more about what it means to have the power of an amulet. Navin is continuing to have more of a role and gets a chance to show off his own special set of skills that I hope will continue as the series goes on. The art continues to be just as solid and entertaining as the writing. I liked the contrast between the lighter colors of the city and the darker colors demonstrative of the danger that lurks in the corner of the character’s eyes and just around the next corner. I’m excited to see what happens in the next chapter in Emily and Navin’s journey.

Other related materials: Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 4: The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 5: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi; Explorer: The Mystery Boxes by Kazu Kibuishi; Flight Explorer, Volume One edited by Kazu Kibuishi; Babymouse graphic novels by Jennifer L. Holm & Matt Holm; Squish books by Jennifer L. Holm & Matt Holm; Bone graphic novels by Jeff Smith; Missile Mouse books by Jake Parker; The Secret Science Alliance books by Eleanor Davis; Dragonbreath books by Ursula Vernon; Big Nate books by Lincoln Pierce; Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search, Part 1 by Gene Luen Yang; Chickenhare by Chris Grine

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