This endearing and often funny graphic novel cohesively combines queer teen romance, realism, and fantasy. Sixteen-year-old Morgan Kwon, who has tan skin and dark hair, lives with her recently divorced mom and irritable younger brother on Canada’s Wilneff Island. She plans to lay low and hang out with her close-knit group of friends, then “move to the city, ANY city” for college before coming out as gay. One night, feeling distressed, she slips on rain-soaked rocks and falls into the water, where she’s rescued by Keltie, a selkie with plans of her own. A dreamy kiss between the two allows Keltie to shed her seal form and walk on land as a thick-limbed human with masses of blonde hair. Keltie’s stilted speech and love of fish mark her as a weirdo among Morgan’s friends, compelling Morgan to live a double life (“Now we can find our fortunes together!” Keltie announces. “Yeah, no, nope, we’re not doing that,” says Morgan). Meanwhile, Keltie wants to stop the island’s new cruise ship, owned by the family of Morgan’s friend Serena, from routing harbor tours past the seal rookery. Ostertag’s (the Witch Boy series) artistically and textually strong characters are easy to root for, from their witty text exchanges to their contemporary fashions and layered emotions. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 12–up. (June)
From the Publisher
Praise for The Witch Boy* "Leaves readers wishing for more." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review* "Brims with life." -School Library Journal, starred review"Thrilling." -Hope Larson, author of All Summer LongPraise for The Hidden Witch* "Absolutely bewitching." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review"Vivid and vibrant . . . A great comic for magic fans." -BooklistPraise for The Midwinter Witch"A heartwarming, wintry adventure." -School Library Journal"Should please fans and newcomers alike." -Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—This sweet sapphic romance with light fantasy elements makes for an absorbing, poignant summer read. Fifteen-year-old Morgan Kwon wants to escape. After her parents' divorce, her household is tense: Her little brother is angry; her mother is sad. The teen also wants to get away from tiny Wilneff Island, where she's lived since she was little. Morgan, who's a lesbian but not yet out, longs to go to college, where she can truly be herself. But she takes pleasure in walking along the beautiful and soothing yet treacherous cliffs. When she slips and falls into the water, she meets Keltie, a selkie who rescues her. Convinced she's having a near-death hallucination, Morgan kisses Keltie. True love's kiss gives Keltie her land legs and makes her eager to discover her fate alongside Morgan—which directly jeopardizes Morgan's carefully regimented plans. With a timely environmentalism subplot about how tourism and pollution affect seal habitats, the romance and coming-of-age narrative wind together in a story about identity, family, and friendship. While the plot is simple on the surface, Ostertag's deeply saturated, expressive art makes deft use of gutters and panels, and incorporates text conversations between Morgan and her friends. Morgan's last name indicates Korean heritage, Keltie is blonde with tan skin, and Morgan's friend group is racially diverse. VERDICT Adorable and authentic, this coming-out story is a must-purchase for YA collections hoping to entice younger teens. Additionally, this would be a great title for book clubs.—Emmy Neal, Lake Forest Lib., IL
A new love with a mysterious girl upends a Canadian teen’s plans.
Morgan Kwon likes to keep her “life tucked neatly into boxes,” especially the one containing the secret that she is gay. She doesn’t believe she can be out until she’s away from her small island and in college. There’s enough drama in her life already with her recently divorced parents and angry younger brother. After Morgan is rescued from drowning by a selkie girl named Keltie who has big shiny eyes and a round face, she keeps their blossoming romance secret. Keltie has her own goals, though, and being quiet isn’t one of them. She needs Morgan’s help, but that will take Morgan’s willingness to open up about herself to others. Selkie lore is enchantingly interwoven in this light fantasy tale that also touches on environmentalism with a plotline regarding pollution of the seals’ habitat. The island setting enriches the story and comes alive through the art with many lovely water scenes. Panels are broken up with occasional text chats between friends, and the art makes use of varied perspectives and layouts to maintain visual interest. Story threads about conflicts with friends and family are believable but fairly surface level, and the romance is charming and tender. Morgan and Keltie’s mutual attraction is adorable, and their cute, happy kisses and cuddles are sure to elicit joy. Morgan’s name indicates Korean heritage; Keltie reads White.
Sweet, fun, Sapphic fluff. (Graphic fantasy. 12-16)