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The witch boy
2017
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From the illustrator of the web comic Strong Female Protagonist comes a debut middle-grade graphic novel about family, identity, courage -- and magic.
- (Scholastic)

From the illustrator of the web comic Strong Female Protagonist comes a debut middle-grade graphic novel about family, identity, courage -- and magic.
In thirteen-year-old Aster's family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn't shifted . . . and he's still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help -- as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.
- (Scholastic)

Author Biography

Molly Knox Ostertag is the author and illustrator of the acclaimed graphic novels The Witch Boy and The Hidden Witch and the illustrator of several projects for older readers, including the webcomic Strong Female Protagonist and Shattered Warrior by Sharon Shinn. She grew up in the forests of upstate New York and graduated in 2014 from the School of Visual Arts, where she studied cartooning and illustration. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her girlfriend and several pets. Visit her online at mollyostertag.com.
- (Scholastic)

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Booklist Reviews

The Witch Boy explores what it means to go against expectations and overcome gendered prejudice, in this case related to magic and witchcraft. In her middle-grade graphic-novel debut, Ostertag—perhaps best known for Shattered Warrior (2017) and her ongoing webcomic, Strong Female Protagonist—uses bold colors and diverse skin tones to beautifully illustrate a brief time in the life of Aster, a young man who is supposed to be a shape-shifter but is instead more inclined toward witchcraft. Unfortunately, witchcraft is seen as feminine in his community, and therefore not something boys are meant to dabble in. When several other boys go missing over the next few days, Aster and his community become alarmed, unsure of who or what is to blame. In an effort to help his family and friends and prove himself to his mother and father, Aster begins testing his magical abilities, much to their chagrin. Aster's journey of self-discovery, particularly as he learns to take a stand against assumed gender roles, will resonate with many young readers working to assert themselves within their own communities. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Magic fans will welcome Ostertag's graphic novel about a modern-day forest settlement where girls become witches and boys learn how to be shapeshifters. Aster's a boy who should be focusing on transforming into an animal; instead, to his family's dismay and embarrassment, he finds ways to hang around when girls are learning witchcraft. Technical spell-casting details abound: "The containment rune would work for a while, but with the name of its subject, it will be much more powerful." With the help of new friend Charlie, a human girl with beaded braids and a serious leg injury, Aster is able to deploy witch knowledge to save two of the settlement's boys and uncover the truth behind his family's darkest secret. Ostertag is in full control of plotting, dialogue, and visual techniques to advance the story with her sturdy panel artwork, and her family-centered narrative is warm and wholesome. Only the predictability of Aster's dilemma—a template from other gender-difference stories dropped into a new setting—disappoints, though his family's eventual acceptance is still satisfying when it arrives. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jen Linnan, Linnan Literary Management. (Oct.)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 4–7—Aster belongs to a magical family, but he is having problems with one of the most basic rules: shapeshifting is for boys, while witchcraft is for girls. Aster is fascinated by the spells that the girls are learning, so he spies on their lessons whenever he can. When several boys disappear during shapeshifting practice, Aster realizes that he can help save them using witchcraft to battle a strange and powerful enemy—but he'll have to break his family's traditions and risk his life. Both the plot and the overall message are straightforward and familiar but engaging. Beneath the fantastical elements lies a story about upending gender expectations, forging identity, and uncovering heroic potential in oneself. Those who enjoy sci-fi or fantasy stories about protagonists who must prove that their society's rules are flawed will appreciate this offering. Ostertag's bright, gentle, cartoonlike artwork brims with life and adds extra appeal to this fast-moving story. VERDICT An excellent choice for reluctant readers, fans of fantasy, and those looking for books that explore gender roles.—Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.

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