Friday, October 16, 2020 |
This past March, a week before the world shut down, I went to my local public library to pick up my holds. One of those holds was Kat Leyh’s middle grade graphic novel Snapdragon… and if you can believe it, it sat unread in my room (and then packed in a moving box)(and THEN unpacked in a pile in my new room) until… September. I don’t know how you felt these past several months, but my reading pace ground to almost a halt… until it didn’t. I picked up this witchy middle grade book at just the right time – and I am so glad I read it because it is not only a fantastic story, but an excellently spooky one for Halloween!
snapdragon by kat leyh book cover
Snap's town had a witch.

At least, that’s how the rumor goes. But in reality, Jacks is just a crocks-wearing, internet-savvy old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online—after doing a little ritual to put their spirits to rest. It’s creepy, sure , but Snap thinks it’s kind of cool, too.

They make a deal: Jacks will teach Snap how to take care of the baby opossums that Snap rescued, and Snap will help Jacks with her work. But as Snap starts to get to know Jacks, she realizes that Jacks may in fact have real  magic—and a connection with Snap’s family’s past.

Snapdragon, or Snap for short, is a little weird, and she’ll admit it, too. But you know who’s even weirder? The witch who lives in the woods in Snap’s town, who picks roadkill off the side of the road and keeps a graveyard next to her house! Snap thought the witch might eat her dog after a car accident, but instead she bandaged him up and let Snap leave, safe and sound. When Snap finds orphaned possum babies one day, she’s forced to ask the witch (or is she a witch??) for help, and thus begins a partnership that will reveal the truth behind creepy family stories, and see good triumphing over evil.

This book is ADORABLE. That might not be the first word that springs to mind for some (especially since it’s a morbid story about a witch who collects roadkill and sells the bones online??), but it works for me. This book has: gender- and sexuality-affirmation, a majority Black cast of characters, quirky family history, a great mother-daughter bond, standing up to bullies, making friends who appreciate your specific brand of weird, and finding something to be passionate about (even if that is putting together skeletons in your free time).

ALSO: ghosts, baby possums, useful magic, and multigenerational storytelling! I know I might not be selling the “adorable” vibe with some of these things, but trust me when I say this book is wholesome as heck, and it needs to be on your shelf or in your hands ASAP. I need a follow up immediately, so Lu (side character, I don’t want to spoil much but you’re going to fall for them!) can have their own story.

I also love how unpredictable the storytelling in Snapdragon is – it takes you to unexpected and wonderful places and ties everything together (I don’t know how – Leyh is a master!) in the end. It puts the fantastic (as in unbelievable) in fantasy in places, but in the best way – with tight storytelling, loveable characters, lots of animals, and families of all shapes, sizes, colors, and configurations.

And what about the ART?? Well, that’s really what ties a weirdly wonderful storyline together with my pronouncement of “adorable!” Not surprising, I suppose? Leyh’s style includes heavy-ish line work, big eyes, and lots of vibrant color. It is 100% part of the storytelling, so much so that I’m having a hard time separating it from the words on the page – you get a lot of the emotion in the story from the unspoken, the scenery, the panels without words. Leyh seamlessly tells Snapdragon’s story in a visual medium.

In all, Snapdragon is a sweet, entertaining, and mildly morbid middle grade graphic novel with nuanced LGBTQ+ characters and spooky Halloween night activities (that do NOT include trick or treat!). I liked it a whole lot and I think you will too.

Recommended for: fans of Raina Telgemeier and Molly Ostertag’s graphic novels, anyone who likes their reading with magic and/or weirdness mixed in, and anyone looking for queer-affirming stories for young people.

1 comment:

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Awww, this sounds really sweet! I will add it to my library holds list!

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