Though I was never an avid fantasy reader growing up, I was well versed enough in fairy tales and mythology to know the basics about changelings: Fairies disguise their own child as human and exchange it for a human child. Why? Estranged tackles that question and offers a powerful statement on what makes a family for any child that doesn’t feel like they fit in.
By Ethan M. Aldridge
Harper Collins. 2018. ISBN 9780062653871
HC, $21.99. 218pp.
Grades 4 and up
He is never given a name and is always just called the Human Childe. Mostly he is just kept around for his parent’s pleasure. But when his parents are attacked and turned into rodents, he knows he must seek help. The only person he can think of is the one who took his place.
Edmund has always known he was different. He can talk to animals. He can produce fire. He remembers everything. But he never has the courage to share this with his parents. He is afraid of what they will think of him. So when the Human Childe seeks him out, he wants nothing to do with him, but the danger that the Human Childe is running from follows them to the world above. Now Edmund has no choice, but to help the Human Childe to protect the only family he has ever known.
This is a fine fantasy adventure that can be paired with City on the Other Side. The story has a perfect blend of adventure and heartwarming themes to engage all sorts of readers. The watercolor artwork lends a beauty to the panels and the world the author/artist has created. The artist builds an entire world through his art and offers a beautiful story about what is family with the dialogue.
In middle school, especially, children really aren’t sure where they fit in. But here they can get a sound definition of family that will take them through this very difficult stage.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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