- Rise of the Halfling King by David Bowles
2020 [64p] (Tales of the Feathered Serpent #1)
Paper ed. ISBN 9781947627376 $12.95
Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 3-6
Drawing on his collection of Mesoamerican myths and folklore Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky (BCCB 10/18), Bowles brings these stories to life for a younger audience in this new graphic novel series. The first book focuses on a half-human half-elven boy, Sayam, who is prophesized to save the city of Uxmal from its corrupt king, Kinich Kak Ek. Raised by his adopted grandmother and local healer, Almah, Sayam learns earth magic and how to read ancient texts, skills that prove invaluable when facing off against the king and his cronies. Polyglot Bowles, himself Latinx, includes indigenous (likely Yucatec Mayan) phrases in his dialogue, adding authenticity and interest to the characters' interactions. Sayam's bravery and recklessness are sure to resonate with his readers, with giant snakes and a monkey best friend sealing the deal for lovers of fantasy and folklore. Adding to this volume is the digital, action-packed art of debut graphic novelist (and author's daughter) Charlene Bowles, whose use of vibrant colors and cartoonish character design makes this an especially kid-friendly pick. This is perfect for fans of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint.