Beetle & the Hollow Bones by Aliza Layne, illustrations colored by Natalie Riess and Kristen Acampora

     Beetle & the Hollow Bones by Aliza Layne, illustrations by Natalie Riess, colored by Kristen Acampora, Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 9781534441538, 2020

Format: Hardcover Graphic Novel

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Genre:  Fantasy Fiction

What did you like about the book? Beetle’s ability to use magic is a bit sketchy which is frustrating to the young goblin witch; she is homeschooled by her Gran, yet wants to learn more.  Her best friend Blob Ghost (BG), a cursed spirit, is trapped in the Mall and cannot escape.  It is here that Beetle spends most of her time and runs into her old friend Kat who is using magic far outpacing her own skills.  Set in the town of Allows, where many characters and settings are reminiscent of Halloween; Beetle acts like a normal witch, riding the bus, going to the mall, and watching television.  As they reconnect, Beetle learns that Kat’s mentor plans to tear down the Mall.  The plot develops as Beetle and her friends have to figure out a way to break BG’s curse and allow her to escape a gruesome demise.  A sweet story about friendship and courage that blossoms between old and new friends is a consistent theme of the text.  The vividly colored panels depict much of the story and add to the developing storyline.  The energy and emotion of characters are portrayed well with the energetic illustrations and few words.  Fans of Graphic novels will enjoy the artwork.  Included in the back is a page of concept art sure to delight future artists.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The story begins frenetically and may take readers until the end of chapter one to understand events taking place and character motivation.  Beetle is quite chaotic in her emotions, a little distracting, yet some readers may relate to her.  The story is fast paced, not a criticism, yet may move too quickly for some readers.

To whom would you recommend this book? Readers in grades 5 to 8 who enjoy stories about magic and friendship would enjoy this book.

Who should buy this book? Librarians who have avid graphic novel fans who enjoy magic will find this a useful purchase.  

Where would you shelve it?  Fantasy Fiction/Graphic Novel

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  I feel that this title would reside near the middle of a “to read” pile.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Elena Schuck, Nathaniel H. Wixon Intermediate School, Dennis, Massachusetts

Date of review: February 6, 2021

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