The beloved theme park Kingdom Adventure provides a space for intergenerational understanding in this comedic summer tale. Jackie,16, lives with her aunt and works for her at Valley Care Living, a local elder care center. Jackie really wants to spend her summer days at Kingdom Adventure, chasing childhood memories with her parents whom she can't be with right now. When her aunt admits that she won't be able to afford another annual pass for Jackie, the teen launches a macabre plot with her friends to get lifetime passes: take the seniors from Valley Care to Kingdom Adventure, hope one of them dies while at the park, and get lifetime parents, whom the park as compensation. In the process, however, Jackie ends up making connections with the residents. Aguirre's bold lines and bright colors are a perfect complement to the vivid set pieces of the theme park, and though the inciting plan is fatalistic, the story guides us to sympathy for Jackie. Fans of books like Marjane Satrapi's Embroideries (2003), which emphasizes what we can learn from elders, will enjoy this book. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.Review by PW Annex Reviews
Jackie Chavez, 16 and "a DACA kid," helps her tia Gina, a nurse, at Valley Care Living in Santa Clarita, Calif. Coping with the absence of her parents, who were deported to Mexico three years earlier, Jackie reminisces about the times they spent at local theme park Kingdom Adventure. What starts as a listless narrative about season pass–holder Jackie's fondness for the park turns into a macabre scheme to take Valley Care Living residents on day trips to Kingdom Adventure in the hopes they die there, thereby yielding lifetime passes for Jackie and her friends. Though white cousins Nikki and Berke Bridgetower take advantage of the situation to benefit themselves, Jackie and Danny, who is light-skinned and gay, become close to residents Phyllis Adler, who is white and Jewish, and Allen, who is Black, over the course of summer vacation. Mrs. Adler's history with the park—moving, if contrived—prompts Jackie to assess her unhappiness with her friends and life. If Blas's emotionally poignant story struggles to gain momentum due to its deeply internal focus, Aguirre's emphatic, detailed art—with strong, curved linework—delights, especially in depictions of the park's accoutrements. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kate McKean, Morhaim Literary. (Oct.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly Annex.
In this darkly comedic YA graphic novel, a group of teens starts a program to bring senior citizens to a local theme park to take advantage of the unofficial park policy: If someone dies on the property, the rest of their party is given lifetime passes!
Sixteen-year-old Jackie Chavez loves her local amusement park, Kingdom Adventure, maybe more than anything else in the world. The park is all she and her friends Nikki, Daniel, and Berke—although they aren’t always the greatest friends—talk about. Kingdom Adventure is where all Jackie’s best memories are, and it’s where she feels safe and happy. This carries even more weight now that Jackie’s parents have been deported and forced to go back to Mexico, leaving Jackie in the United States with her Tía Gina, who she works with at the Valley Care Living seniors’ home. When Gina tells Jackie that they can’t afford a season pass for next summer, Jackie is crushed. But on her next trip to Kingdom Adventure, she discovers a strictly protected secret: If a member of their party dies at the park, the rest of their group gets free lifetime passes.
Jackie and her friends hatch a plot to bring seniors from Valley Care Living to the park using a fake volunteer program, with the hopes that one of the residents will croak during their visit. The ruse quickly gets its first volunteer—a feisty resident named Phyllis.
What starts off as a macabre plan turns into a revelation for Jackie as Phyllis and the other seniors reveal their own complex histories and connections to Kingdom Adventure, as well as some tough-to-swallow truths about Jackie, her friends, and their future.
With artist Claudia Aguirre, Terry Blas has crafted a graphic novel that is dark and deeply moving. This book is Cocoon meets Heathers—a twisted satire about a magical land and the people who love it, even to the point of obsession. Jackie’s summer is about to turn into a wild ride filled with gallows humor, friendship, and fun—or is it?