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The Golden Hour

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From the author of The Deep & Dark Blue comes a tender graphic novel, perfect for our time, that gently explores themes of self-discovery, friendship, healing from tragedy, and hope for a better tomorrow. Struggling with anxiety after witnessing a harrowing instance of gun violence, Manuel Soto copes through photography, using his cell-phone camera to find anchors that keep From the author of The Deep & Dark Blue comes a tender graphic novel, perfect for our time, that gently explores themes of self-discovery, friendship, healing from tragedy, and hope for a better tomorrow. Struggling with anxiety after witnessing a harrowing instance of gun violence, Manuel Soto copes through photography, using his cell-phone camera to find anchors that keep him grounded. His days are a lonely, latchkey monotony until he's teamed with his classmates, Sebastian and Caysha, for a group project. Sebastian lives on a grass-fed cattle farm outside of town, and Manuel finds solace in the open fields and in the antics of the newborn calf Sebastian is hand-raising. As Manuel aides his new friends in their preparations for the local county fair, he learns to open up, confronts his deepest fears, and even finds first love. This title will be simultaneously available in paperback.


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From the author of The Deep & Dark Blue comes a tender graphic novel, perfect for our time, that gently explores themes of self-discovery, friendship, healing from tragedy, and hope for a better tomorrow. Struggling with anxiety after witnessing a harrowing instance of gun violence, Manuel Soto copes through photography, using his cell-phone camera to find anchors that keep From the author of The Deep & Dark Blue comes a tender graphic novel, perfect for our time, that gently explores themes of self-discovery, friendship, healing from tragedy, and hope for a better tomorrow. Struggling with anxiety after witnessing a harrowing instance of gun violence, Manuel Soto copes through photography, using his cell-phone camera to find anchors that keep him grounded. His days are a lonely, latchkey monotony until he's teamed with his classmates, Sebastian and Caysha, for a group project. Sebastian lives on a grass-fed cattle farm outside of town, and Manuel finds solace in the open fields and in the antics of the newborn calf Sebastian is hand-raising. As Manuel aides his new friends in their preparations for the local county fair, he learns to open up, confronts his deepest fears, and even finds first love. This title will be simultaneously available in paperback.

30 review for The Golden Hour

  1. 4 out of 5

    Niki Smith

    I can't wait to share The Golden Hour with you! I can't wait to share The Golden Hour with you!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maia

    Manuel struggles with PTSD after a shooting at his school, but it happened after hours so his classmates don't know that he was the only witness. He uses photography to anchor himself during anxiety attacks. Luckily, he is paired with two friendly, enthusiastic students for a group project who end up pulling him along into their Ag-club. Manuel gets to help Sebastian and Caysha raise a calf, and in this gentle animal's presence he is able to open up about some of fears. This book is gorgeously i Manuel struggles with PTSD after a shooting at his school, but it happened after hours so his classmates don't know that he was the only witness. He uses photography to anchor himself during anxiety attacks. Luckily, he is paired with two friendly, enthusiastic students for a group project who end up pulling him along into their Ag-club. Manuel gets to help Sebastian and Caysha raise a calf, and in this gentle animal's presence he is able to open up about some of fears. This book is gorgeously illustrated in Niki Smith's characteristic thin clean lines, with soft painterly backgrounds filling in the gold, brown, green and grey of Kansas. The fields and skies feel vast, but are the perfect setting for an intimate story of recovery.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Isabella Basile

    PTSD recovery! Supportive best friends! Queer first love! Adorable baby cows! The Golden Hour is the warm hug of a graphic novel for everyone who’s ever struggled to cope.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Shepard (Between-the-Shelves)

    Where do I begin with this graphic novel? I loved almost everything about it. Following the story of Manuel, who has witnessed a tragedy at his school and uses photography to cope with it. He makes friends through the assignment of an art project, and they help him heal, too. From the relationships, art, writing, and just general format, there's nothing I didn't like about this book. The way that PTSD and panic attacks are portrayed in this book are some of the best I've seen done in graphic nove Where do I begin with this graphic novel? I loved almost everything about it. Following the story of Manuel, who has witnessed a tragedy at his school and uses photography to cope with it. He makes friends through the assignment of an art project, and they help him heal, too. From the relationships, art, writing, and just general format, there's nothing I didn't like about this book. The way that PTSD and panic attacks are portrayed in this book are some of the best I've seen done in graphic novel format. For Manuel, all of the color disappears, and you almost feel the panic with him. His relationship with Sebastian was perhaps one of my favorite things in the book because Sebastian really wants to be there for him. There are subtle hints throughout that their friendship is more than a friendship, and if you're not paying close attention, you might miss them. When it's a first relationship like this, in a middle grade novel, I feel like this formatting works so well for the story. The art! How have I gotten this far and not talked about the art yet? Formatted around the idea of the golden hour for photography, there are just some goregous shots in here. Absolutely gorgeous. I only know Niki Smith from The Deep & Dark Blue, but I feel like this book has built on what I loved about that book. All in all, this fits the middle grade genre so well. It's one I will keep thinking about and will definitely keep an eye on what Niki Smith does next.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    The Golden Hour is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Niki Smith. After witnessing a brutal attack against his art teacher, young Manuel Soto struggles to cope with the trauma and anxiety that shadow him. After saving his art teacher from an armed attacker at school, Manuel Soto, a Latinx aspiring photographer, copes with PTSD with the help of a therapist and his single mother. Specifically, Manuel takes pictures on his phone's camera to anchor him during frequent dissociative episodes. In The Golden Hour is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Niki Smith. After witnessing a brutal attack against his art teacher, young Manuel Soto struggles to cope with the trauma and anxiety that shadow him. After saving his art teacher from an armed attacker at school, Manuel Soto, a Latinx aspiring photographer, copes with PTSD with the help of a therapist and his single mother. Specifically, Manuel takes pictures on his phone's camera to anchor him during frequent dissociative episodes. In art class, Manuel befriends two tablemates, both agriculture enthusiasts raising animals for the country fair. Sebastian cares for a calf on his family farm, while Caysha sees to fancy chickens at her grandparents' house. The Golden Hour is written and constructed extremely well – it is far from perfect, but it comes rather close. Smith slowly builds a tender romance between Manuel and Sebastian, where Manuel assists Sebastian with his calf, and Sebastian helps Manuel through an episode. With a soft start and a gentle build, Smith’s graphic novel details the realities of Manuel's trauma response while reveling in subdued, generous scenes that showcase the three friends' everyday joys. Dark grayscale scenes in angular, fractured panels convey the PTSD episodes in contrast to otherwise painterly full-color illustrations. Back matter further contextualizes PTSD, anxiety, and the grounding techniques Manuel employs. All in all, The Golden Hour is an exceptionally graceful and delightful graphic novel about PTSD, anxiety, and first love.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Raven Black

    Triggers with experiencing violence event explored. A sweet look at the difficulties one boy faces with anxiety, depression and his PTSD after witnessing gun violence. Through therapy, grounding techniques and new friends Manuel starts healing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    A beautiful middle grade graphic novel that looks at PTSD and anxiety.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katelynne

    Wonderful story and art. The way the author represented panic attacks was so spot-on and well done.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Vernon Area Public Library KIDS

    Manuel Soto starts off the new school year differently than most kids. One day after class, he witnessed a terrible act of gun violence done against his teacher. Manuel learns how to cope with his severe anxiety and PTSD symptoms. As the new year starts off, he uses his mom's old phone to take photos to center himself when he begins to feel panicked. As the new year keeps moving, he is assigned to work with two students, Sebastian and Caysha. The three of them team up to work on their class proj Manuel Soto starts off the new school year differently than most kids. One day after class, he witnessed a terrible act of gun violence done against his teacher. Manuel learns how to cope with his severe anxiety and PTSD symptoms. As the new year starts off, he uses his mom's old phone to take photos to center himself when he begins to feel panicked. As the new year keeps moving, he is assigned to work with two students, Sebastian and Caysha. The three of them team up to work on their class project for the year. As they work together, they begin to grow a lovely friendship. Sebastian lives on a farm and Manuel goes over often to hang out and help around. Sebastian also helps Manuel cope with his PTSD when they go on an overnight trip for school. Recommended for readers who love a good story about friendship and overcoming personal obstacles. Reviewed by: Miss Nessa, Youth and School Services, Vernon Area Public Library

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    This was a gorgeously done graphic novel about tragedy, anxiety, and finding safe places (and people) to heal. After watching a teacher get shot by another student, Manuel is struggling with PTSD. He finds himself anxious and often dissociating--and only his photography seems to be able to stop. When some new friends introduce him to the simple beauty of farm and county-living, Manuel finds that there might be a way through his anxiety and that opening up to his new friends might not be so bad. Be This was a gorgeously done graphic novel about tragedy, anxiety, and finding safe places (and people) to heal. After watching a teacher get shot by another student, Manuel is struggling with PTSD. He finds himself anxious and often dissociating--and only his photography seems to be able to stop. When some new friends introduce him to the simple beauty of farm and county-living, Manuel finds that there might be a way through his anxiety and that opening up to his new friends might not be so bad. Beautiful artwork and an engaging story. Highly recommended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    Heart-wrenching but also really sweet. Illustrations are so beautiful. I cried all the way through this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Ughhhh this was SO GOOD. The story, the characters, the emotion, the art.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jill Kenna

    Niki Smith can do no wrong. This book was amazing and sad and beautiful.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chezsa

    I love chickens I love photography I like cows. This book has it all

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tib

    The art was stunning and the story somehow managed to stay rather light given the topics of trauma and PTSD and panic attacks. It was a precious and powerful story and paired with the beautiful art, it was a solid read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tracie

    In the aftermath of saving his art teacher's life during a school shooting, Manuel finds himself struggling with PTSD and dissociation. He practices anchoring his thoughts with a therapist, and finds solace in art but doesn't really start to heal until he befriends Caysha and Sebastian. While the trio hang out at Sebastian's farm, Manuel discovers that taking cell phone photos really calms his anxiety. He grows close to Caysha, but closer still to Sebastian, with whom its easy to share his feeli In the aftermath of saving his art teacher's life during a school shooting, Manuel finds himself struggling with PTSD and dissociation. He practices anchoring his thoughts with a therapist, and finds solace in art but doesn't really start to heal until he befriends Caysha and Sebastian. While the trio hang out at Sebastian's farm, Manuel discovers that taking cell phone photos really calms his anxiety. He grows close to Caysha, but closer still to Sebastian, with whom its easy to share his feelings. Explaining those feelings--his panic attacks, his worries, his terrifying memories--to his mom, however, is not so easy. When the sounds of target practice at camp trigger Manuel to panic and run away, Mom tries to keep Manuel safe by restricting his social life; she grounds him just as Sebastian and Caysha are set to debut year-long projects at the county fair. Manuel wants to be at the fair to support his friends; Sebastian and Caysha friendship are his lifeline. But how can he make his mom see what he knows to be true? Does he have the courage to stand up to his mom? A great pick for fans of graphic novels and art, The Golden Hour is a fast but thoughtful read about trauma, resilience, healing, and first love.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Danny DiCrispino

    Themes: Post-Traumatic Stress, Coming of Age, LGBTQ+ This graphic novel left me speechless. The story is brief but it’s going to stay with me for a long time. Manuel witnesses a school shooting and is deeply impacted by post-traumatic stress and anxiety, only able to stay grounded by his anchor: photography. Niki Smith digs deep into this subject through her stunning art style. While this story would have made a fine novel, it’s so much richer as a graphic novel. We experience Manuel’s panic atta Themes: Post-Traumatic Stress, Coming of Age, LGBTQ+ This graphic novel left me speechless. The story is brief but it’s going to stay with me for a long time. Manuel witnesses a school shooting and is deeply impacted by post-traumatic stress and anxiety, only able to stay grounded by his anchor: photography. Niki Smith digs deep into this subject through her stunning art style. While this story would have made a fine novel, it’s so much richer as a graphic novel. We experience Manuel’s panic attacks on the page. We see how much art means to him. We share his need for friendship and closeness. I was blown away; the students I teach need books like this. The Golden Hour adds to the increasing visibility of LGBTQ+ youth in middle grade books. Manuel’s self-discovery is quiet yet impactful, and the reader will get how much that moment means to him.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    I read Niki Smith's other middle grade graphic novel, The deep dark blue earlier this year and I enjoyed it but it was not quite a five star but this WAS! The golden hour is a beautiful beautiful slice of life contemporary graphic novel that explores the main characters PTSD after experiencing a school shooting and him making friends and becoming part of the local 4H group. The themes were so well explored and I think this is so important for young readers to see. Also the other element felt so s I read Niki Smith's other middle grade graphic novel, The deep dark blue earlier this year and I enjoyed it but it was not quite a five star but this WAS! The golden hour is a beautiful beautiful slice of life contemporary graphic novel that explores the main characters PTSD after experiencing a school shooting and him making friends and becoming part of the local 4H group. The themes were so well explored and I think this is so important for young readers to see. Also the other element felt so so realistic as someone who has been part of agriculture groups, lives in a southern town and has a sister in a 4H. It was so heartwarming and so well rendered. This will be up there with some of my favorite graphic novels and my most recommended MG graphic novels! In leagues with The Magic Fish, Snapdragon and Seance Tea party!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Excellent graphic novel about teens who suffer from anxiety.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elise

    Reviewed for School Library Journal.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cass Moskowitz

    A beautiful story of a young by dealing with PTSD and Anxiety after a traumatic event in school. The use of colours in this book to convey emotion and feelings is so wonderfully done. It translates beautifully and I love that it's not all hopelessness. I love his new friends, and his growth throughout the story. It was so hopeful and joyful even with those dark themes. A beautiful story of a young by dealing with PTSD and Anxiety after a traumatic event in school. The use of colours in this book to convey emotion and feelings is so wonderfully done. It translates beautifully and I love that it's not all hopelessness. I love his new friends, and his growth throughout the story. It was so hopeful and joyful even with those dark themes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    This graphic novel is a 3.5 for me. Manuel Soto is recovering from a traumatic event at school in which he was a bystander when an act of gun violence occurred. What actually happened is revealed slowly through flashbacks, overheard conversations at school, and therapy. Manuel uses the frames on his cellphone camera to help him focus when he's feeling stressed or anxious, but he often feels lost and confused. After being assigned to work on a group project with Caysha and Sebastian, Manuel begin This graphic novel is a 3.5 for me. Manuel Soto is recovering from a traumatic event at school in which he was a bystander when an act of gun violence occurred. What actually happened is revealed slowly through flashbacks, overheard conversations at school, and therapy. Manuel uses the frames on his cellphone camera to help him focus when he's feeling stressed or anxious, but he often feels lost and confused. After being assigned to work on a group project with Caysha and Sebastian, Manuel begins to feel that he might have found his people. Sebastian lives on a large farm outside of Kanwaka, Kansas, and he's thrilled to have a new bottle calf to raise. He names her Daisy, and quickly falls in love with her as does Manuel, who spends time taking pictures of the calf as she grows. Caysha is raising fancy chickens for the county fair, and the youngsters spend time together both inside and outside of school. As they grow closer, they share some of their secrets and fears, and Manuel opens himself up to risks and happiness. After a panic attack while the friends are at a camp, Manuel is grounded by his mother, damages the camera she let him use, and avoids his friends out of embarrassment. But he manages to show up at the fair, even though it's too late to support Sebastian, and despite a bicycle accident. Finally, he's able to stand up for himself, be there for his friends, and remind his mother that he's stronger and more independent than she might think. The story is told with lovely illustrations of the farm and those moments before the sun rises or sets that paint everything in warm colors. Middle grade readers will appreciate the way the friendships develop as well as how the affection between the two boys blossoms into something else with blushing cheeks and sideways glances. The illustrations capture Manuel's panic attacks and flashbacks effectively without being too detailed or too violent, but they certainly show why such an experience would have a lasting effect on someone who lived through it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Flossmoor Public Library (IL)

    4 stars The premise is a dark one, but completely relevant. During a holiday break, Manuel is alone with his art teacher at school when they are confronted by an active shooter. Though he escapes the ordeal with no physical injuries, his mental state is another story. Throughout the book, Manuel struggles with PTSD, using photography as a grounding technique when his thoughts overwhelm him. But it isn’t just photography that gets him through. He ends up making friends with two kids in his art cla 4 stars The premise is a dark one, but completely relevant. During a holiday break, Manuel is alone with his art teacher at school when they are confronted by an active shooter. Though he escapes the ordeal with no physical injuries, his mental state is another story. Throughout the book, Manuel struggles with PTSD, using photography as a grounding technique when his thoughts overwhelm him. But it isn’t just photography that gets him through. He ends up making friends with two kids in his art class. There’s Caysha, who is sassy and outspoken, and Sebastion, who is more reserved but just as welcoming to Manuel. They push Manuel to get outside of his head and comfort zone by encouraging his photography and supporting him through his frequent panic attacks. The star of the show is the subtly budding bond between Manuel and Sebastion, the hints of a crush so lightly handled that you might miss them if you’re not paying attention. Or even better yet is the relationship that Manuel and his mom have. While the focal point is Manuel’s anxiety, you start to realize that his mom is carrying a fair amount of anxiety as well. Then there is the artwork. Photography being a main component of the book allows for beautiful still scenes. The other focal point is Manuel's struggle with PTSD, which is handled by draining the color out of the panels when he is triggered or experiencing an anxiety attack, allowing the reader to understand how jarring of an experience it is for Manuel. In a world where we have become all but desensitized to shootings, this story is a refreshing reminder that they are still a big deal with devastatingly long-term psychological effects, especially for those that are directly experiencing it. ~ Miss Krystal

  24. 5 out of 5

    OpenedBooks

    The Golden Hour is a graphic novel about Manuel, a teenage boy suffering from PTSD after he was present when his art teacher was shot. Manuel has learned in therapy that it is best to find an anchor to hold on to when severe symptoms occur. For Manuel, that anchor is taking pictures with his cellphone. The art in this graphic novel gives a little insight into how PTSD and anxiety can look. I especially liked the way Manuel was portraited as disconnected from the world, stranded on a piece of rock The Golden Hour is a graphic novel about Manuel, a teenage boy suffering from PTSD after he was present when his art teacher was shot. Manuel has learned in therapy that it is best to find an anchor to hold on to when severe symptoms occur. For Manuel, that anchor is taking pictures with his cellphone. The art in this graphic novel gives a little insight into how PTSD and anxiety can look. I especially liked the way Manuel was portraited as disconnected from the world, stranded on a piece of rock with images of his trauma flashing by. It was cohesive with his picture-taking strategy to anchor himself and reconnect to the real world.  This book gives us a glance into a recovering PTSD patient and that over time, coping strategies evolve and that it takes a lot of time and work to get through the trauma. In Manuel’s case – but not solely – he starts to cope by himself, and over time, it evolves to include other people, too. Through stages, he learns that a good friend – in this case, Sebastian – can be a great anchor too. Manuel has just started his long journey with PTSD, but I am confident that there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. I recommend this graphic novel to teenagers who are either going through trauma or PTSD themselves, who need to understand that they are not alone or young adults who want to get a brief insight into what it can feel like to have PTSD.

  25. 4 out of 5

    TheNextGenLibrarian

    A beautiful MG graphic novel that takes a look at PTSD and anxiety. 🌅 Manuel Soto is starting the year off different from his peers. He was the one witness to a domestic act between his art teacher and her partner that led to him bringing a gun to school and shooting her. Now Manuel used photography as an anchor when he has panic attacks thinking about the event. When he makes friends with Sebastian and Caysha Manuel begins to open up and find joy in the farm Sebastian lives on. When an opportuni A beautiful MG graphic novel that takes a look at PTSD and anxiety. 🌅 Manuel Soto is starting the year off different from his peers. He was the one witness to a domestic act between his art teacher and her partner that led to him bringing a gun to school and shooting her. Now Manuel used photography as an anchor when he has panic attacks thinking about the event. When he makes friends with Sebastian and Caysha Manuel begins to open up and find joy in the farm Sebastian lives on. When an opportunity presents itself to enter his photography into a show at the fair, Manuel is able to confront his deepest fears and finds a first love with Sebastian. 🌅 This GN deals with so many topics such as PTSD, gun violence, panic attacks, anxiety, therapy, queer first love, Latinx culture/family and the support of best friends. I loved it and can’t recommend it enough for anyone who has had to learn to cope after a traumatic event. CW: PTSD, trauma, gun violence, #mentalhealthawareness anxiety, depression, violence, panic attacks

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Smagacz

    Extremely thoughtful story which beautifully captures PTSD, anxiety, and trauma within its pages. I especially appreciate how the story wasn't the insighting incident of trauma itself, but the aftermath. The characters were wonderful and showed excellent growth. The artwork is incredible. It so effectively depicts not only pure joy and laughter and fun, but also panic and fear and confusion in the midst of anxiety. I highly recommend to anyone with loved ones who face anxiety as this could be an Extremely thoughtful story which beautifully captures PTSD, anxiety, and trauma within its pages. I especially appreciate how the story wasn't the insighting incident of trauma itself, but the aftermath. The characters were wonderful and showed excellent growth. The artwork is incredible. It so effectively depicts not only pure joy and laughter and fun, but also panic and fear and confusion in the midst of anxiety. I highly recommend to anyone with loved ones who face anxiety as this could be an excellent resource to use as a peek inside. TW for gun violence, PTSD, panic disorder

  27. 5 out of 5

    Susan Dunn

    Manuel is struggling after witnessing a violent incident at his school. When he is befriended by Sebastian and Caysha, his lonely world slowly begins to open up. Sebastian lives on a cattle farm outside of town, a great place to take photos - which is the one thing that has given Manual comfort since the day the bad thing happened. Buoyed by his new friends and their encouragement to enter some of his photos in the country fair, Manual slowly begins to emerge from his despair. Moving and hopeful Manuel is struggling after witnessing a violent incident at his school. When he is befriended by Sebastian and Caysha, his lonely world slowly begins to open up. Sebastian lives on a cattle farm outside of town, a great place to take photos - which is the one thing that has given Manual comfort since the day the bad thing happened. Buoyed by his new friends and their encouragement to enter some of his photos in the country fair, Manual slowly begins to emerge from his despair. Moving and hopeful, if a little dark for younger readers.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I don’t normally write reviews, but this book is very important. As someone who has complex PTSD and derealization from different life events, it was captured really well. Comics are powerful in the sense that they can capture and share/evoke feelings. They’re such an important and engaging medium. They have the power to really evoke empathy, as well. I really liked the story and the message. It’s a very powerful book. Thank you. ❤️ Its beautifully rendered and well crafted. It also flowed reall I don’t normally write reviews, but this book is very important. As someone who has complex PTSD and derealization from different life events, it was captured really well. Comics are powerful in the sense that they can capture and share/evoke feelings. They’re such an important and engaging medium. They have the power to really evoke empathy, as well. I really liked the story and the message. It’s a very powerful book. Thank you. ❤️ Its beautifully rendered and well crafted. It also flowed really well.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Manuel finds focus through a lens as he copes with trauma and makes friends. After witnessing gun violence against a beloved art teacher, Manuel isn't in the best place emotionally. Luckily, he has the support of his mom and therapist, and a healthy creative outlook. With new friends, he'll learn that, as long as he grounds himself when things are too oberwhelming, most of his life can be lived in that beautiful, magical golden hour. Manuel finds focus through a lens as he copes with trauma and makes friends. After witnessing gun violence against a beloved art teacher, Manuel isn't in the best place emotionally. Luckily, he has the support of his mom and therapist, and a healthy creative outlook. With new friends, he'll learn that, as long as he grounds himself when things are too oberwhelming, most of his life can be lived in that beautiful, magical golden hour.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marcia Porter

    Manuel has lived through a terrifying ordeal, the details slowly unspool throughout the story, and is learning to deal with the aftermath. His camera and budding friendships with Sebastian and Caysha help him along the path to healing. The friendships are realistically portrayed. As a teacher in a rural area, I especially enjoyed the scenes where Manuel, a town kid, is introduced to life in the country. The back matter includes notes from the author on character development, the art process, and Manuel has lived through a terrifying ordeal, the details slowly unspool throughout the story, and is learning to deal with the aftermath. His camera and budding friendships with Sebastian and Caysha help him along the path to healing. The friendships are realistically portrayed. As a teacher in a rural area, I especially enjoyed the scenes where Manuel, a town kid, is introduced to life in the country. The back matter includes notes from the author on character development, the art process, and information on PTSD. Excellent addition to middle school graphic collections.

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