Travis Daventhorpe for the Win!

First Second. Mar. 2023. 288p. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9781250801401.
Gr 3-6–In his first year of middle school after skipping a grade, Travis Daventhorpe is having an easier time getting bullied than making friends. It doesn’t help that he’s the smartest kid in school. So when new girl Juniper Reyes shows up, Travis goes all out trying to make sure they become besties. When that fails, he takes solace in a test flight with his homemade robot, Travbot. An unfortunate crash-landing puts him face-to-face with multi-dimensional wizard Belazar, who clues Travis in on his true destiny as the Hero of Solusterra! However, there are forces that do not want Travis to fulfill his potential, including evil king Nol Invictus. Will Travis succeed? Will he even survive the middle school science fair? This graphic novel is an excellent debut for both Travis and Molebash. In addition to the fun and fluid writing and simple but effective art, the book offers several clever references to other works, from Calvin and Hobbes to The Matrix. Molebash uses gaming tropes, and even gives the main characters their own sets of gaming attributes, making the story more accessible and enjoyable. This first entry in a planned series is a great start, but it’s not entirely perfect; there’s enough story in this one book to spread over multiple volumes. However, the story Molebash tells and the characters he introduces are compelling and will have elementary kids eagerly awaiting the next volume.
VERDICT An excellent graphic novel debut that elementary kids will eat up.

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