Beetle & the Hollowbones

Aliza Layne

Book - 2020

Twelve-year-old goblin and witch-in-training Beetle enlists her former best friend, Kat Hollowbones, to help stop Kat's sorceress aunt from demolishing the mall where Beetle's friend Blob Ghost is trapped.

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room jGRAPHIC NOVEL/Layne Due Aug 10, 2024
Graphic novels
Comics (Graphic works)
Paranormal comics
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers [2020]
Main Author
Aliza Layne (author)
Other Authors
Natalie Riess (colorist), Kristen Acampora
First Atheneum Books for Young Readers hardcover edition
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : chiefly color illustrations ; 23 cm
Ages 8-12.
Grades 4-6.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Preteen goblin Beetle's potions studies can wait: she'd much rather hang out at the 'Allows Town mall with her best pal, Blob Ghost, a non-binary, jelly-like shape-shifter who communicates through their transformations. Beetle lives with Gran, the powerful Town Witch, but she thinks that the kind of magic passed down in their family isn't "real magic." Stirring up all kinds of feelings, Beetle's former best friend, Kat Hollowbones, is back in 'Allows Town with her aunt Marla. When Marla's plans to return the town to its former glory threaten to harm Blob Ghost and exploit Kat's powerful talent for sorcery, Beetle summons the magical abilities Gran knew she possessed, and Gran's there to help. Layne, creator of the Demon Street weekly fantasy webcomic, grounds Beetle's bighearted adventure in earthly settings like the mall and Gran's cozy cottage, and she fills 'Allows Town with a gleeful array of fantastic creatures: no two are alike. Her vibrant, comical, and overall super-appealing art is a good match for sometimes-scary and high-octane scenes. Beetle's hero's journey has the adorably vulnerable Blob Ghost at its heart; many kids will also relate to the friendship-and-more story between Beetle and Kat. A high-spirited debut about learning to trust one's heart and instincts.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Though Beetle's formidable grandmother has long taught her goblin magic at home--all bones, potions, and ancient family practices--the green-eared girl yearns for and idolizes sorcery, which society deems the more powerful craft. It's also the power that Beetle's childhood best friend--skeletal, undead Kat Hollowbone--has cultivated at prestigious schools. When Kat returns to take up an apprenticeship with her emotionally abusive aunt Marla, much has changed: neither girl writes fan fiction or role-plays anymore, and Beetle's closest friend is now Blob Ghost, a nonbinary spirit haunting and bound to a local mall. As Marla seeks to demolish the mall to reclaim the Hollowbones' ancestral estate, Beetle and Kat reconnect and work together to free Blob Ghost. Solid character work by debut creator Layne slowly builds themes of outgrown childhood friendship, cultural difference, consent, and queer romance that highlight the lush world she's created. A saturated palette that changes and brightens amid strong shows of power, and resonant interpersonal elements--including Beetle's bond with her grandmother--work in harmonious tandem to deliver a stalwart story of magic, witches, and the mall. Ages 8--12. Agent: Susan Graham, Einstein Literary. (Aug.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 4--8--Beetle, a 12-year-old goblin, lives with her grandmother, the helpful town witch. When she's not bored to tears being homeschooled on goblin magic, she's hanging out with her best friend, the teeny and adorable Blob Ghost, a floating, speechless, but incredibly expressive red orb who haunts the local mall. Though magical forces prevent Blob Ghost from leaving the mall, Beetle is certain that the two will always be pals--until Beetle's former best friend, Kat Hollowbone, arrives. Beetle and Kat don't get along quite the same as before--there might be feelings involved now--but Kat isn't here alone. Kat's a sorcerer's apprentice for her menacing aunt, Marla Hollowbone, who just happens to have bought out the mall. And unless Beetle and Kat do something, the mall will be demolished, with Blob Ghost still trapped inside. Cartoonist Layne makes a stellar debut. Simultaneously gorgeous and goofy, the artwork is reminiscent of the animated series Bee and Puppycat and a delicious love letter to shoujo manga. Layne's supernatural cast is fantastic, from green-skinned Beetle and her grandmother to Kat and Marla, respectively, skeletal cat and bird creatures. Characters' LGBTQ identities, such as Beetle and Kat's changing relationship, as well as the use of the they pronoun for Blob Ghost, are gently woven throughout the narrative. Relying on intersecting plotlines in lieu of a more straightforward romp, Layne conveys themes of independence, identity, and realization of one's potential. VERDICT Action-packed yet heartfelt, short and sweet yet riveting, this one is not to be missed.--Matisse Mozer, Los Angeles P.L.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

Twelve-year-old goblin Beetle's old friend Kat Hollowbone is back in town. After a rough reconciliation with the sophisticated skeleton, Beetle comes to realize that Kat's aunt is the real enemy: she wants to tear down the mall, which is the haunting ground of Beetle's (nonbinary) spirit friend Blob Ghost. Beetle herself, in fact, might just be destined for a new type of relationship with Kat. Luminous art and creative panel placement make for a zippy read in this graphic novel, whose LGBTQIA+ representation is treated as matter-of-factly as its fantasy elements. Shoshana Flax September/October 2020 p.50(c) Copyright 2020. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

This splashy fantasy graphic novel blends rollicking adventure with inclusive teen themes. Though bustling with goblins, witches, ghosts, and skeletons, this beautifully drawn graphic novel addresses important questions facing even mortal kids. It tells the story of Beetle, a young goblin and aspiring witch who is torn between hanging out at the mall with pal Blob Ghost and serious study. When childhood friend Kat Hollowbone returns to Beetle's town to apprentice with her sorceress aunt, it disrupts Beetle's friendship with Blob Ghost as well as Beetle's ideas about identity and relationships. The story quickly develops urgency as Kat's aunt emerges as a villain intent on demolishing the mall, thereby endangering Blob Ghost, who is bound to that location. Layne's renderings of her paranormal cast are highly evocative. Green-skinned Beetle has large, pointy ears and a tufted tail; skeletal Aunt Hollowbones has a spindly bird skull for a head. Climactic action scenes are expertly rendered. Diversity is a strength in this female-driven text, which features a tenderly portrayed LGBTQ love story between Kat and Beetle. Wise older women act as mentors, body diversity is casually positive, and Blob Ghost uses they/them pronouns throughout. Amid the fantasy elements, Beetle, Kat, and Blob Ghost text, video chat, post pictures online, and look at one another's social media feeds--and Beetle is forced, grumbling, to take the bus to the mall. This inclusive fantasy adventure passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. (Graphic fantasy. 10-14) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.