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Reviewed by:
  • Americus
  • April Spisak
Reed, MK. Americus; illus. by Jonathan Hill. First Second/Roaring Brook, 2011. 216p. Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-59643-768-5 $18.99 Paper ed. ISBN 978-1-59643-601-5 $14.99 R Gr. 7–10.

Quiet, bookish Neil is a bit on the fringe in his Oklahoma town of Americus, where half the town is rallying to get a young adult fantasy book series removed from the public library. Neil is on his own after his best friend, Danny, is sent to military [End Page 104] school, but he slowly learns to reach out to a few key peers who are as peripheral in the high school scene as he is; although the fight over censorship is the main thread, Neil’s gradual development is effectively portrayed in this graphic novel. Reed carefully adds depth to the antagonists, showing their moments of fear and doubt even as they threaten access to materials or shout mainly irrelevant Scripture. Danny’s mother is particularly nuanced, as she mourns the loss of connection with her children’s affection as a necessary sacrifice to save their souls. The black-and-white illustrations, lush and dark during the visual sequences that represent the fantasy series, and sparer with more realistic shading for the rest, mainly reflect the text, although there are eyerolls and poignant glances caught only in the art that enhance the overall story. While this remains primarily an anti-censorship manifesto, there are plenty of genuine, subtle relationships and life changes going on in the town to keep readers intrigued even after it becomes clear the books are going to stay on the shelves.



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pp. 104-105
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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