ISBN 978-1-4197-2128-1 $14.95
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 3-5
After illustrating a couple of well-known graphic novels (Rapunzel’s Revenge, BCCB 9/08, and Calamity Jack, BCCB 2/10) and doing some nonfiction historical graphic novels, Hale now turns to writing fiction as well as illustrating it. The story begins when a girl named Strata finds a remarkable robot pony, a dangerous asset in an era when the aliens hovering above Earth covet technology and humans therefore shun anything that will make them vulnerable. Meanwhile, a caravan of digital protectors carries around the memory of human civilization, staying on the move to avoid the aliens. There are plenty of opportunistic bad guys here, but Strata’s loyal community does all they can to keep her safe, even with her penchant for finding trouble. The fact that Strata and her pony, Kleidi, save the day isn’t remarkable in itself, but the manner in which they do so is so explosive and unexpected that readers will almost certainly be surprised. Speech bubbles carry all of the text, with the illustrations working to move the story forward as much as the fairly minimal amount of words, while sound effects are dramatic. The aliens themselves are visually exceptional—huge, gluttonous, and oozing privilege in both their actions and their physical presentations. Final color illustrations not seen.