Illustrated by Teny Issakhanian
Quill Tree Books
Published March 1, 2022
Zuli is extraordinary–she just doesn’t realize it yet. Raised by mystical bird spirits in the branches of the Great Tree, she’s never ventured beyond this safe haven. She’s never had to. Until now.
When a sinister force threatens the life-giving magic of the tree, Zuli, along with her guardian owl, Frowly, must get to the root of it. So begins an adventure bigger than anything Zuli could’ve ever imagined–one that will bring her, along with some newfound friends, face-to-face with an ancient dragon, the so-called Witch-Queen, and most surprisingly of all: her true identity.
This captivating middle grade graphic novel, the first of a series, is perfect for fans of the Amulet books and the Wings of Fire series.
I feel like I have a tendency to describe illustrations in graphic novels or children’s books as being really emotive. When I read WINGBEARER, though, I was blown away by how expressive Teny Issakhanian’s illustrations are. There are several panels that show closeups of Zuli’s face or just her eyes, and those were so powerful. I loved the way the images communicated a LOT of story, too. I felt like I got a deep sense of how the characters felt about each other from the way they were positioned in the illustrations and some of the looks exchanged between them.
The story is really moving, too. I love Zuli’s courage and her protectiveness over her allies. She has such a pure and loving heart. I couldn’t help holding my breath in some moments, wondering what would happen next and how she was going to navigate some of the obstacles in her way. I loved Frowly, the owl, too! Their friendship was so sweet.
I didn’t realize when I started reading this book that it’s the first in a series. I don’t read a lot of graphic novels (I didn’t realize this was a graphic novel when I agreed to review it, either), and I’m really bad about following a whole series, but I would definitely read this one.
I think fans of ESTRANGED by Ethan Aldridge will love the otherworldly fantasy elements and beautifully illustrated panels in WINGBEARER.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Zuli is Black.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Characters have magic abilities. Souls of animals come from and return to individual places. For birds, it’s a special tree. Zuli grows up there.
Situations of peril.
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