Thursday, January 18, 2018

Graphic Novel Review: The Witch Boy

I received a big batch of graphic novels for review this fall and have been making my way through them - I often have a graphic novel going on the side, in addition to my main book. Last month. I enjoyed the middle-grade graphic novel, The Witch Boy, by Molly Knox Ostertag, a fantasy novel that focuses on issues of importance to real-life kids and teens.

Aster is growing up in a magical family. Males are shapeshifters, and females are witches. As they approach adolescence, all of Aster's boy cousins are beginning to shapeshift and find their spirit animals, while the girls are learning witchcraft from their mothers, aunts, and grandmother. Not only has Aster not yet had an animal dream or even begun to shapeshift, but he's fascinated by the witchcraft the girls are learning...and when he practices it in secret, he seems to have an aptitude for it. Frustrated with the limitations put on him, Aster makes a new friend, a girl named Charlie, who is not magical, and confides in her his secrets. When disaster strikes Aster's family, and the boys are threatened, Aster wants to try his newfound skills to help his family...but he's not supposed to. Should he risk angering everyone in order to try to save the boys? And how can he convince his family to let him follow his own path?

A 2-page spread from The Witch Boy
This is a fun, fast-paced fantasy tale told with appealing, brightly colored illustrations, but it deals with problems that are of concern to regular, nonmagical kids and teens, too. Aster is struggling with figuring out who he is, finding his way through life, nurturing his natural skills against family pressure, and gender identity issues. Setting aside the shapeshifting and witchcraft, pretty much any kid can relate to Aster's challenges. The Witch Boy is an engaging and suspenseful fantasy with real-world relevance that will appeal to middle-grade readers.

213 pages, Graphix (Scholastic)

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

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You can look at more sample pages of The Witch Boy with the Look Inside feature on this page.

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