Graphic Novel Review: Marshmallow & Jordan by Alina Chau

Marshmallow & Jordan by Alina Chau. First Second, 2021. 9781250300607. 384pp.

This is another entry in an amazing field of graphic novels from First Second about basketball. This one belongs right up there with Gene Yang’s Hoops and Sloan Leong’s A Map To The Sun, though it’s for a younger audience.

After an accident, Jordan isn’t able to play on her school’s basketball team anymore, but she’s still a part of it and even helps out with coaching. One day on the way home from practice she helps an injured white elephant and takes it home. When her friends meet Marshmallow they love it, and it even learns to play basketball. (There’s a supernatural element to the elephant that ties into a local drought, all of which becomes clearer at the end of the book.) The story’s conflict involves Jordan joining the school’s water polo team where some of the players aren’t excited to have her (they think she can’t swim fast enough, though they’re clearly wrong); as she gets more involved with water polo her basketball playing friends feel a bit abandoned.

I believe the book takes place in Indonesia. (Though the setting is very strong, I don’t think it’s ever stated directly.) Chau’s art and particularly the colors give the neighborhood and characters a brightness that makes it all feel very friendly.


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