From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—This trilogy exudes shelf appeal. Unfortunately, the storytelling doesn't quite live up to the level of visual success. Living in picturesque Alta Donna, pink-haired Nola York-Stein is distracted in school and ignored by her divorced mother at home. Mystery surrounds the arrival of new students Inés and Damiano, who are being pursued by creatures tasked with taking them back to the fantastical Land of Stories. When Nola digs deeper, she finds that Alta Donna is not what it seems—the town is actually a buffer zone between the Land of Stories and the Real World and Inés and Damiano's escape is putting all three worlds in peril. Nola must find a way to restore balance while keeping her new friends from being taken away. Some readers may find the mystical aspects of story line frustratingly ambiguous. These are not stand-alone titles, but rather one large tale broken into three parts, so key plot elements and character motivations can be slow to develop. The anime-inspired art will grab attention. Alta Donna and its fashion-forward citizens are crisply rendered in pastel hues. Inventive panels and layouts may prove challenging for novice graphic-novel readers but add interest for those more experienced with the format. These titles are visual standouts but the narrative may leave readers wanting more.—Travis Jonker, Dorr Elementary School, MI
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Nola lives in the pretty but boring town of Alta Doona. When she realizes that there’s something strange about the new kids in school, Damiano and his sister Inés, her investigation uncovers mysteries beyond the boundaries of Alta Doona—or the world itself. Mariolle’s story is engaging, with fun, likable characters. Nola’s struggles with divorced and absent parents, class work, and fitting in at school are the everyday foundation for her fantastic discoveries. Unfortunately, Mariolle undercuts the effectiveness of those discoveries by rushing important parts of the plot. This graphic-novel series was originally published in France in 2009, and MiniKim’s settings have a European flavor that is refreshing amid a sea of American and Japanese comics. Her characters are young but still look old enough for tween girls to identify with. A behind-the-scenes section offers an informative and funny glimpse into how the comic was created. These artistic elements and a solid translation help lift this comic, despite the pacing of the plot. Grades 4-7. --Snow Wildsmith
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