Although I prefer the more traditional way of storytelling, kids often have a preference for graphic novels. For one, they are easy to read. And two, they are visual just like this generation of middle grade readers. When I saw this new one come across my desk, the story line captured my attention.

Sophie is a young witch whose mother and grandmother pressure her to attend the Royal Magic Academy—the best magic school in the realm—even though her magic is shaky at best. To train for her entrance exams, Sophie is sent to relatives she’s never met.

Cousin Sage and Great-Aunt Lan seem more interested in giving Sophie chores than in teaching her magic. Frustrated, Sophie attempts magic on her own, but the spell goes wrong, and she accidentally entangles her magic with the magic of a young water dragon named Lir.

Lir is trapped on land and can’t remember where he came from. Even so, he’s everything Sophie isn’t—beloved by Sophie’s family and skilled at magic. With his help, Sophie might just ace her entrance exams, but that means standing in the way of Lir’s attempts to regain his memories. Sophie knows what she’s doing is wrong, but without Lir’s help, can she prove herself?

Sophie is an endearing protagonist. She stumbles through many mistakes along the way but tries to make things right. A grandmother and Great Aunt are tough on her with demands that are rather mean and unrealistic, but it was nice to see a few of the adults admit their lack of respect and apologizing.

The art work is colorful and depicted each scene perfectly. Some are full page with no text and they will have you gazing at them a bit longer. Seeing magic, witches, and dragons visually on a page adds to the attraction of Tidesong.

The title will appeal at first to girls but boys would also enjoy the plot and characters. TIDESONG is a simple story that delivers some important lessons. Recommended for graphic lovers along with those who have never picked up a novel of this type. You just may get hooked.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: November 16, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 240


  1. Sophie’s self talk was a real highlight. She reflects on her errors and tries to figure out a better way to solve her dilemma.
  2. A heartwarming ending with every plot point wrapped up and delivered.
  3. The best part of the graphics were the scenery whether it be with characters or not. The ocean and small town fit right into the graphic format.
  4. The message that just because a school has a fancy name and stellar reputation doesn’t mean it is for everyone.
  5. Lir came through as one of my favorites. He’s a dragon out of water and can’t get back to the sea or even know where to start. He’d make a strong MC in his own book!


Wendy Xu is a bestselling, award-nominated Brooklyn-based illustrator and comics artist.

She is the creator of the middle grade fantasy graphic novel TIDESONG (2021 from HarperCollins/Quilltree) and co-creator of MOONCAKES, a young adult fantasy graphic novel published in 2019 from Oni Press. Her work has been featured on Catapult, Barnes & Noble Sci-fi/Fantasy Blog, and Tor.com, among other places. (For more about Wendy and her work, visit her Web Page)


I received a copy of the book from Harper Collins. Comments are welcome below.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to TIDESONG

  1. I’ve really enjoyed graphic novels – to my surprise! This one sounds great. Thanks for the review.

  2. I don’t usually read graphic novels. But this one sounds like one I’d like. Thanks.

  3. Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    I actually have a copy of this book waiting on my shelves, so it’s great to hear that you enjoyed it! I had read a graphic novel co-written by Xu previously called Mooncakes, and it wasn’t a favorite of mine but was quite fun and had great artwork, so I’m excited to see this one and her future books (I think she’s coming out with two more solo graphic novels in the next few years). Thanks so much for the wonderful review, Greg!

  4. I like wordless picture books, but I’ve had a hard time getting into graphic novels. This one does sound very appealing. Great cover. Are graphic novels really going to be the future for kids. Hadn’t realized MG readers are visual readers. What’s happening to imagination? Thanks for sharing!

  5. Sue Heavenrich says:

    what an intriguing story line! I much prefer novels over graphic novels, but I might make an exception for this one,

  6. I think that graphic novels are harder to read, since the text is often very small, and you need to look at the pictures, too. I’ve seen a lot of students in study halls “reading” graphic novels, and I’m pretty sure they are just looking at the pictures and flipping through the pages. They are popular, though, and there are a lot of teachers who are big fans.

  7. Sounds like graphic novel lovers will really love this one. Since I don’t really read fantasy and sparingly read graphic novels, I will probably pass, but it’s good to know about. I have a granddaughter who might just like this one. Thanks for the post.

  8. Pingback: A 5-way Double Giveaway | Always in the Middle…

Place your thoughts here with a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.