A charming and diverse group of kid cryptids live together in a protected home called the Playroom, until one day the protection fails and they must run for their lives. Deemed “irregularities” by society, the kids manage to escape being kidnapped by an evil “Collector” of oddities—for the moment. With no place to turn and no one to trust but each other, the group flees from hazard to hazard, each new danger adding to their doubt that anyone will ever accept them for who they are.

Mutants and aliens have long served as a metaphor for prejudice of all types, and the lesson isn’t neglected here. Society is set against the children because they are different, and in most cases the children’s families were also persecuted. As their journey unfolds, so too do their traumatic backstories. White-haired and white-skinned yeti Omar had to watch his Sherpa Nani die in front of him as she tried to protect him from being taken away. Will-o-the-wisp Sylvie, pale-skinned with pointy ears, was imprisoned as a child because she can fly. She also has a darker power: the ability to control anyone who threatens her safety. Newton, a green, scaly reptilian alien clone who can take on the appearance of a white boy, has been ostracized from his stoic people because he shows too many human emotions. Brown-skinned Jaali is one of the Nandi bears of Kenyan legend. When he was young, he and his father were discovered in their transformed states and captured, but Jaali escaped and his father did not. Ever since, he has been haunted with worry for his dad. Selkie Clarice and green-skinned, tentacled Maggie were both stolen from their ocean families. Each kid’s candid sharing about their past evokes empathy for their plights, and the regular-kid hijinks, even as they face threat after threat, add to the group’s likability.

Various havens serve as interludes between the dangers, reassuring the kids that not all the world is against them. A street urchin named Tibbs leads them to an abandoned theater where the group is delighted to find many more young cryptids like them. A brief Romeo and Juliet-esque side plot develops, revealing that prejudice exists even among the cryptids themselves. Meanwhile, Tibbs gives Omar a quick lesson on pronouns, leading Omar to later realize he is nonbinary. Though not germane to the plot, the group’s easy acceptance of Omar’s decision highlights the support they offer one another.

Visually, the panels are a delight: uncluttered and easy to follow but laid out in a variety of shapes and tonal themes. The clean pages prevent the large cast from becoming unwieldy and make it all the more fun to pore over the occasional highly detailed spreads, such as the montage of the kids’ foray into various cryptid locations.

The concept may be reminiscent of YA comics like Brian K. Vaughan’s Runaways or James Patterson’s Maximum Ride, but Another Kind strikes a perfect middle grade balance: the high-stakes adventures are perilous enough to keep the pages turning, but the love and loyalty the children show for the found-family they’ve formed makes it clear there’s hope for a better future. This mix of action, sweetness, and humor is sure to appeal to readers who enjoy series such as Molly Ostertag’s Witch Boy, Jeremy Whitley’s Princeless, and Mark Siegel’s 5 Worlds.

Another Kind
By Trevor Bream, Cai May
Art by Cai May
Harper Collins Harper Alley, 2021
ISBN: 9780063043534
Publisher Age Rating: 10+

NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11)
Creator Representation: Queer
Character Representation: African-American, Nonbinary

  • Sally

    | she/her Children's Librarian

    Sally Engelfried received her MLIS from San Jose State University in 2013 and has worked as a children’s librarian for Oakland Public Library in California ever since. A longtime graphic novel and comics fan, Sally loves getting great graphic novels into the hands of the kids at her library.

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