One Year at Ellsmere

First Second. Jul. 2020. 176p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781250219107.
Gr 5-8–Hicks presents a newly redrawn remake of her graphic novel The War at Ellsmere. Juniper, an intelligent new scholarship student at an upper-class boarding school, faces prejudice and bullying from star student Emily. Fortunately, Juniper has forged a friendship with her lonely but kind roommate, Cassie, who proves herself an invaluable ally when Juniper is framed for plagiarism, saving the day with the assistance of a legendary creature roaming nearby woods. The final act is fueled by that dose of magical realism, but our protagonist’s reflection on her previous anger and resentment is what resonates most. The new art is an improvement, with crisper lines and tighter, more detailed styling than the former edition; however, it still retains the cartoonish charm of the original. Despite the high school setting, the narrative will appeal most to middle school readers.
VERDICT While libraries that already own The War at Ellsmere need not repurchase, collections that don’t have it should consider it, especially where the “Lumberjanes” series is popular.

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