Lilla the Accidental Witch

Little, Brown. Jul. 2021. 240p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780316538848; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780316538824.
Gr 5 Up–It’s time for sisters Lilla and Dani to visit their aunt and uncle—or rather, their Zia and Zio—at their picturesque home in Italy, just outside Milan. They’ll enjoy local cuisine and tourist attractions—plus, there are even two boys excited to spend time with the sisters. Older sister Dani is psyched, but Lilla is distracted. She could care less about Gio, the boy her family is trying to set her up with. And her Zia’s new assistant, Ludo, is a woman like Lilla’s never known, with a girlfriend and a motorcycle and confidence in spades. Throw in a magical spell book, a hidden lineage of witches, and the menacing Stregamama, and Lilla’s in for the trip of a lifetime. Crewes tells an intimate story, letting character moments simmer rather than building to dramatic set pieces. The artwork is reminiscent of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona, with minimalist character designs that still allow for quirky and expressive facial reactions. Crewes takes her time introducing readers to Lilla’s family, and once magical elements are introduced, they, too, take a while to intertwine themselves with the other plot threads. Lilla’s burgeoning queerness benefits the most from the storytelling approach, serving as a satisfying allegory for her witchcraft abilities (and vice versa), but the two threads otherwise do not impact each other. Though not a particularly wordy title, the book has many slice-of-life moments between Lilla’s family, which might deter readers looking for a brisk romp of a read. Lilla and Dani are white, Zia is tan-skinned, Ludo appears to be Asian, and Zio is Black.
VERDICT A recommended read for comics fans looking for LGBTQIA+ representation, and a solid additional purchase for libraries where spooky comics are popular.

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