Thursday, June 29, 2017

Middle-Grade Review: NewsPrints

I enjoy reading graphic novels, especially as a palate cleanser between longer or more difficult books. I recently enjoyed NewsPrints by Ru Xu, a middle-grade graphic novel set in a steampunk world, with an intriguing plot and endearing characters.

Blue is an orphaned girl who disguises herself as a boy so that she can be a newsboy, selling the Nautilene Bugle all over the city. Being a newsboy also means that she was taken in – along with many other boys orphaned by the ongoing 10-year war with Grimmaea – by the city Mayor and his wife, who also run the newspaper. Blue and her fellow orphans are happy with the kind couple and their makeshift family, but Blue does wish she could be herself and still have this life.

One day, Blue runs into a large building that she thought was abandoned and discovers Jack, an inventor whose incredible machines are scattered all over his workshop. Jack is the classic absent-minded scientist and asks Blue if she will be his assistant. Gradually, Blue comes to realize that Jack’s work might actually be important and not just whimsical. One day, Blue accompanies Jack to the Nautilene Naval Base and meets a mysterious boy named Crow. He seems to be a kindred spirit, and Blue wants to help him.

The plot continues and is quite intricate, but I don’t want to spoil the story for you with any more details. Blue is a kind and likeable character who is always stumbling onto trouble, and the other characters around her are equally full of life and personality. The illustrations have a vibrant, manga-like feel to them, colored in mostly shades of browns and blues that give the story an old-fashioned feel, while the steampunk details add intrigue.

Blue and Jack looking for parts at a pawn shop.
It’s a rollicking, fast-paced adventure with plenty of suspense and surprises in store for young readers. The graphic novel also delves into issues of friendship, the effects of war, gender equality, and especially, being true to yourself. Young readers will enjoy going on this journey with Blue and her friends and discovering the mysteries at the heart of it. Although the main story is mostly wrapped up, the war continues, and the ending makes it clear that Blue will have more adventures in a sequel – something to look forward to!

202 pages, Graphix by Scholastic

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by Xu, R. R.Trade Paperback
Purchase NewsPrints from Book Depository.

Or purchase from Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT:



  1. I agree that graphic novels are the perfect thing between heavy reads