Friday, April 24, 2020

Middle-Grade Review: Snapdragon

I recently read a middle-grade graphic novel, Snapdragon by Kat Leyh, who co-wrote and drew the Lumberjanes series (I still need to read those!). This one is an original story about a likable girl whose family doesn't have much. She befriends a boy who wants to be a girl and the town's supposed witch and learns more about herself and her family along the way.

All the women in Snapdragon's family are named after flowers. Snap has heard that the ramshackle house in the woods is the home of an evil witch who lost her eye to the devil, eats roadkill, and casts spells with the bones. They also say she eats pets, so when Snap's beloved dog, Good Boy, goes missing, she braves the scary place. Snap finds Good Boy, and she also finds Jacks, who's not a witch at all, but an old woman who wears Crocs and is good with animals. Since she helped patch up Good Boy after he got injured, Snap goes back the next day, thinking maybe she could help with a bunch of baby possums whose mother is dead. Jacks and Snap become constant companions, taking care of the possums, while Jacks also shows Snap how to clean and recreate animal skeletons, a painstaking but satisfying process. In between, Snap hangs out with her next-door neighbor Louis, who Snap encourages to be him/herself and begins to go by Lulu. The two like to watch scary movies together, and Snap is especially glad of the company when her mom is working late. Eventually, while working with Jacks, Snap begins to realize the old woman might actually have a bit of real magic and a connection to Snap's own family.

Sample pages from Snapdragon by Kat Leyh (First Second)

I really enjoyed this unique novel about friendship, family, healing, and acceptance. It's lots of fun, filled with colorful, realistic, and action-packed drawings, but it also covers plenty of ground with serious issues, like gender fluidity, being gay, bullying, and not making assumptions about people. It was more real-life based than I expected for the first half of the story, though it takes some unexpected twists in the second half. Snap is a wonderful heroine, filled with courage and boldness and willing to stand up for her friends. And I loved the happy ending.

224 pages, First Second

You can purchase Snapdragon from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
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  1. This sounds fun and I like the illustrations. I think it's time for me to read a graphic novel!

    1. Wow, Helen - you've never read a graphic novel? Oh, you must try one!

      Some of my faves include Fun house by Allison Bechtel (made into a musical which was also excellent!), Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, or anything by Lucy Knisley! Those are all grown-up graphic memoirs.

      For middle-grade graphic novels, Real Friends by Shannon Hale, any of the Sunny books by Jennifer & Matthew Holm (set in the 70's so extra fun!), and anything by Raina Telgemeier.

      And Hey, Kiddo is an outstanding YA graphic memoir.