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SKINVENTUREZ: The Sunscreaming Summer
Hooray! School’s out for summer and Mia and Luka’s dad takes them and a few friends on vacation for some sun and fun. But after some spooky happenings, the kids start to wonder if their pale dad is actually a g-g-ghost! On top of that, Luka forgoes sun protection on a cloudy day and learns a painful lesson. The kids need help and they know just where to find it. Leading NYC-based expert dermatologist Dr. Tamara Lazic Strugar brings a rollicking graphic novel adventure sprinkled with tips on sunburn prevention and treatment.
Strugar (the writer) and Embeli (the cartoonist) combine on a light-hearted middle-grade graphic novel that doubles as a work of graphic medicine. Parents interested in getting their kids to take skin care and sun exposure seriously will find this a useful resource, while kids will enjoy its gentle humor. Strugar is a dermatologist whose goal is to provide a fun way of talking about taking care of one's skin during the summer, especially since kids often spend so much time outside. The story follows siblings Mia and Luka and their summer adventures with Mia's friend Anya and Luka's friend Jude. Luka and Jude are both scared of ghosts, and after watching Ghostbusters, Luka is worried that his dad is becoming a ghost.

After Luka and Jude play a gross practical joke on the girls, they decide to get back at them by playing up the possibility that their dad is a ghost. Meanwhile, Luka gets a horrible sunburn and continues to be freaked out by the idea of ghosts and monsters. Embeli’s warm, inviting art is playful and always clear in its storytelling, and the characters—whether human, robot, or irritated nerve endings—are deftly designed, each expressive and highly specific despite a rigorous economy of line. Writer Strugar inserts herself as a character and a love interest for the dad when he insists on taking Luka to see her, and the kids share the names of her and her husband’s real-life kids.

The doctor has a robot in her office and doles out several pages worth of skin-protection directives that include sunscreen and protective clothing. The book concludes with several pages worth of crossword puzzles, word searches, quizzes, and how-tos on things like oatmeal baths. The silly fake ghost story and activities are a nice way to get kids to not only think about the importance of skincare and safety but also to share easy-to-understand guidance for them and parents alike.

Takeaway: Fun, wonderfully drawn story showcasing the urgent facts of skin and sun exposure.

Comparable Titles: Betty Nguyen and Brandon Pham’s Dermatology for Kids, Katherine C. Troutman’s Sunny Goes to the Beach.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A