Mills, Claudia

Vera Vance: Comics Star

(2) 1-3 After-School Superstars series. Illustrated by Grace Zong. As the After-School Superstars begin a four-week comic-book-making project, this second installment in the series (Nixie Ness: Cooking Star, rev. 9/19) shifts its focus to third-grader Vera. Vera (depicted in the illustrations as brown-skinned with her hair in an Afro puff) loves comics, but they make her mother uncomfortable to the point that she almost refuses to let Vera participate. "Why would a school enrichment program devote an entire camp to comic books when there are so many other truly important things in the world to learn about?" Over the course of the month, quiet Vera's keen observations about her friends, her teachers, and her mom translate to valuable lessons in self-discovery and allow her to grow into her talent as an artist and comics creator. The month ends with a field trip to a comic-con where student art will be recognized, and Vera has to find the right way to persuade her still-reluctant mom to sign the permission slip for her to attend. Heartfelt moments between Vera and her single-parent mother mix with their struggles over the value of comics to create a realistic family dynamic, and honest moments among the campers keep the chapter book from becoming overly pat. Spot illustrations and an appended list of Vera's favorite comics and graphic novels add extra punch.


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