Haru: Spring

Andrews McMeel. (Haru: Bk. 1). Mar. 2024. 272p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781524889616; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781524884734.
Gr 4-6–Haru is a small blue bird who lives in the forest with their little sibling Goose and their mom, who is a ghost. Haru dreams of leaving the forest but can’t fly. Schoolmates make fun of them (their words “sting like paper cuts”), but they do have a best friend—a small pig called Yama. When an evil “heart of briar” finds Yama, and Yama can’t get rid of it, the friends ask a wise oak tree for advice, and soon, they set off on their quest to The Beacon (“we’re never alone as long as we have each other”). Their journey is full of danger: the heart of briar has a negative effect on Yama, and Haru faces a creature of darkness and death called Blight, but comes through unscathed by holding fast to their inner light. Meanwhile, Goose and his friend Frei, a firefly, follow Haru’s trail while Herb, a sentient mushroomlike figure they meet along the way, helps as much as they can. The ending is left to be resolved in further volumes, with Haru and Yama continuing their journey, Goose in danger, and Herb regretful that they couldn’t help more. The themes and artistic style call to mind books like Ben Hatke’s Things in the Basement and T. Probert's Lightfall.
VERDICT Good-hearted Haru is a character to root for in this often-dark beginning, leavened with moments of humor. Recommended where graphic novel fantasy is popular.

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