27 May / Hummingbird Heart by Travis Dandro [in Booklist]
Travis Dandro made his graphic title debut with award-winning King of King Court (2019), about his complicated 1980s youth. In this follow-up, he’s a Camaro-driving teenager in 1991 in his final year at home before art school. His heroin-addicted birth father has committed suicide and his grandmother has cancer, and he moves in as her caretaker after she breaks her hip. He’s still getting out with friends, even going on a date. An epic pumpkin-stealing and -smashing exploit almost destroys all his relationships, but true friendship prevails.
Dandro draws predominantly in simple, sketch-like black-and-white lines, although he always fills in hair on people and animals, and snapshot-like scenes of nature and spaces nicely indicate the passage of time. As in King, Travis’ eyes remain hollow circles, as if underscoring his wide-eyed path to maturity.
Most notable are the pages capturing a visit to The Museum of Cartoon Art, during which Dandro proves his ability to emulate any comic, from Krazy Kat to Popeye to Calvin; his insertions of a young Travis into the panels are especially engaging – and delightfully, conspicuously aspirational.
YA/General Interest: Teens on the cusp of the leaving home for college will find plenty of resonating adventures here.