The legacy of The Beatles still reigns in the minds of musicians and fans, both young and old. Husband and wife team Kiara Brinkman and Sean Chiki, writer and illustrator respectively, have created an homage to The Beatles and the pop culture of the 60s, as well as a story for any tween who has felt out of place. In their new graphic novel, Lucy in the Sky, the duo showcases their love of the music and its impact for those who are now truly listening to each album.
Seventh-grader Lucy Sutcliffe has been feeling out of place lately. At school she feels disconnected from her friends as they try new interests, while at home she starts to worry more and more about her grandmother’s health. It isn’t until she discovers her father’s collection of Beatles albums that she starts to perk up. With encouragement from her outspoken grandmother and new friends, Lucy becomes absorbed in the music and the culture of the 60s. She even decides to start an all-girl band, with her at the drums. However, forming a band is easier said than done. When pressures from each member weighs her down, and her family drama adding to the mix, Lucy tries her best to come up from her despair and piece together her new musical life.
For Beatles fans out there, this is one graphic novel they will surely read from cover to cover. Not only do you have numerous Beatles Easter eggs and references, but the impact their music has on the main characters is very relatable. As Lucy listens to each album in discographical order, she allows the lyrics and music to take her away from her reality and helps her to find a way to express her joy or sorrow. Chiki uses these movements to his advantage by having song lyrics blow by across the panels. Not only that, he uses black and white or colorful inspiration from Beatles album covers for full panel pages to enhance a scene of dialogue or action.
Audiophiles will greatly enjoy full color pages explaining how to play phonograph records and a brief history of The Beatles’ early years in Liverpool, England. They will also become intrigued with Brinkman’s discussion of the musical style and pop culture of the 60s, notable events in the lives of each Beatle, and how music is part of each character’s life, whether it be The Beatles or current musical artists. At the end of the story, readers are treated to a soundtrack listing of each song that is mentioned in the story, along with the name of the artist and the album it is from (the duo also lists songs that were created for the graphic novel, as well).
Public and school librarians should consider adding Lucy in the Sky to their collection. Those who serve middle and junior high students will find its musical and coming of age storyline similar to Hope Larson’s All Summer Long. The artwork and Beatle references will prompt children and teens to research the band and maybe turn them into new fans.
Lucy in the Sky
By Kiara Brinkman
Art by Sean Chiki
Macmillan First Second, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: 10-14
NFNT Age Recommendation: Tween (10-13)