Marshmallow & Jordan by Alina Chau. First Second, 2021. 9781250300614
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Format: Graphic novel
What did you like about the book? Girls’ sports and friendships are the themes of this sweet graphic novel set in Indonesia. Jordan is no longer a star player on her middle school’s team, but she’s a beloved participant at practice. The accident which left her paralyzed from the waist down is mentioned, but it’s not a part of the story. Her sadness at missing sports is present, however, and perhaps that’s the part of her that conjures up a young white elephant at the park one day. She takes him home to bandage his injuries, and her family allows Jordan to keep him for the time being. Marshmallow, as he is named, is almost a support animal to Jordan. Although everyone can see him, it is not until the end that the reader, who may not be sure if he is real, finds out that Marshmallow is actually a mystical rain being from the sky. Marshmallow helps Jordan with the confidence to adapt to a new sport, water polo.
Chau’s gorgeous watercolor art really anchors the setting, and it feels like a labor of love, with the occasional full bleed spreads of the Indonesian countryside. Jordan’s friends have a wide range of skin colors, reflecting the diversity of her school. Indonesian words are sprinkled throughout, and are readily understood through context, with a glossary and fact page about the country at the end.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? I think the magic realist presence of Marshmallow will appeal to fans of realistic and fantasy fiction and graphic novels, ages 9-13. And it’s a nice title for fans of sports fiction, especially as it features an athlete with a disability.
Who should buy this book? Elementary and middle schools, and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Graphic novels
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: September 25, 2021