September/October 2021 Kids Indie Next List
“Why wouldn’t a living head of garlic make the best vampire-hunter among a garden of vegetables? Garlic isn’t sure she’s the right hero. But when duty calls, she answers.”
— Griffin Mauser, BookPeople, Austin, TX
An enchanting, farm-fresh debut graphic novel starring an unusual heroine who is braver than she realizes, for middle grade readers looking for a cozy, adventuresome read in the vein of Witch Boy or Be Prepared.
Garlic feels as though she’s always doing something wrong. At least with her friend Carrot by her side and the kindly Witch Agnes encouraging her, Garlic is happy to just tend her garden, where it’s nice and safe.
But when her village of vegetable folk learns that a bloodthirsty vampire has moved into the nearby castle, they all agree that, in spite of her fear and self-doubt, Garlic is the obvious choice to confront him. And with everyone counting on her, Garlic reluctantly agrees to face the mysterious vampire, hoping she has what it takes.
After all, garlic drives away vampires…right?
"In this down comforter of a graphic novel, Garlic discovers that she is braver and more capable than she ever believed when she is called upon to save her friends. The color palette is folkloric, drawing on lush earth tones to highlight this cozy little village where people and vegetables live harmoniously—this is cottagecore through and through."
— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
"Gorgeous artwork featuring anthropomorphized plants and colors reminiscent of those used in Kate Greenaway stories make this a joy to read... Perfect for chapter-book readers and up, this will delight anyone wanting a light adventure heavy on friendship and self-actualization."
"Both art and text are well-paced, and humor abounds. Fashionable farm attire (think overalls and aprons) and lighthearted slang phrases such as “Oh grapes” and “Cheese ’n’ chives!” contribute to successful world-building. Speech balloons in various colors and shapes showcase characters’ emotions and tones of voice, and bright motion lines pop atop dark autumnal tones and thick outlines. Especially notable is the cartoonist’s playful exploration of scale and perspective—as well as the story’s lighthearted approach to risk-taking, caretaking, and social-emotional growth."
— Horn Book (starred review)
"Readers will cheer Garlic’s growth from anxious to triumphant, though children looking for a spooky vampire tale will soon discover that this depiction is more cheerful than chilling. Delightful."
— Kirkus Reviews
"Debut graphic novelist Paulsen lingers visually on dew-covered cabbages, wonderfully squat produce homes, and other horticultural and domestic delights. Her warm, autumnal palette and attention to shape and contour add to the appeal of the pastoral setting, and comic overreaction brings a cartoon sensibility to the characters’ plight."
— Publishers Weekly