Cover Image: Prunella and the Cursed Skull Ring

Prunella and the Cursed Skull Ring

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Member Reviews

Prunella and the Cursed Skull Ring was a lot of fun and had some great humor! It was such a heartwarming and fun read!
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Very cute graphic novel with great art. I really liked the Time Museum so I was excited to read another title by Matthew Loux. This is a story about a little village that hates monsters even though they nothing about them. Their fear leads them to wall off their city. Prunella is magically cursed and turned into a monster. She is kicked out of the village and left to fend for herself where the monsters live. Soon she finds out that there is nothing to fear from monsters and makes many new friends. A good message for kids about the ignorance of prejudice.
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This might be the best short story I've read this year. The first thing I noticed were the amazing illustrations. The  drawings are so cute, there is so much to look at, it's so beautiful and fun and I really love this art style.

The story is so much fun. I loved the humor, it had me laugh out loud a few times. I love how kind every one is in this story, it's so refreshing. Finally a book without an evil villain!

I got a warm, fuzzy feeling while reading this book and I felt like the message behind the story is that you can also love your chosen family in life; your friends.

I can't wait to read more by this author, to be honest. I did notice that he wrote more graphic novels and I'm very curious right now.
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A girl discovers a skull-shaped ring that transforms her into a skeleton girl, earning her the ire of her monster-fearing neighbors in this delightfully weird and macabre story by Time Museum creator Matthew Loux. The town turns on her, including her indifferent mother, who mistakes a lushly groomed dog for her daughter, banishing her and setting Prunella off on a journey to find a way to reverse the curse. She meets other monsters on the way, all of whom readily accept her, and realizes that maybe the so-called "monsters" aren't the villains after all. Befriending Captain Rip Skeleton and a floating skull named Francis, Prunella quickly becomes a story of friendship and adventure, leaving Prunella with decisions to make at the end of her journey. Cartoony artwork makes for a friendly cast of ogres, skeletons, and ghosts. Prunella is a young girl with a head of ample red hair held with a bow that stays intact through her transformation. Give this one to your Margo Maloo fans. A good purchase for graphic novel collections that like a little dark humor.

Prunella and the Cursed Skull Ring has a starred review from Kirkus.
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Matthew Loux has developed a solid fanbase with his Time Museum and Salt Water Taffy series, and if you happen to enjoy those two series, then you will absolutely enjoy his newest story. Prunella and the Cursed Skull Ring tells the story of a young girl who has heard the rumors about her town being a breeding ground for monsters but just doesn't really care to believe them. That is, of course, until she discovers a ring that turns her into a skeleton that proves to be similar to everything she's heard. 
While Prunella isn't really ostracized from her community, there is a sense of general disdain that she both receives and reciprocates to those around her. This is probably more likely due to the village's desire to keep monsters out (a play on communal trauma, perhaps), and they are willing to do whatever it takes to do so even if it means they're effectively isolated from the outside world. This plays out painfully for Prunella when she puts the ring on and the village subsequently banishes her.  While reading Prunella's story, it's hard not to compare it to our own world and politics, and it can be uncomfortable to read at times because it does feel like a terrifying depiction of our own reality.
However, it is on her journey to break this curse that she discovers that the ones her village has tried to keep out are actually better than the people doing the banishing. This is where an already strong story really shines, as Prunella not only learns about friendship, but she learns about love and acceptance of herself, too. We see the effect that prejudice and not only has on individuals, but on entire communities, and the artwork supports even these really deep themes well. Loux has mastered the art of letting his, well, art, speak for him: indeed, there are parts of this short read where there are no words, and it is up to the reader to decipher what is going on. It is this kind of storytelling that really forces the reader to engage with this world and all the baggage it brings. It is a lot of "show, don't tell," and it works really well especially as Prunella has to answer the most important question: does she even want to break the curse?
This is an emotional story with incredible art, and an ending that is both earned and a little too hopeful. It is a beautiful story of a young girl who realizes that her community is not as great as it has pretended to be, and that it is in our drive to be inclusionary that we really build the village we want. Stories like these make us believe in change, and growth, and in that respect, it accomplishes what it set out to do. It also pushes us to look inward, but not just at ourselves: no, it asks us to look at who we keep around us and question whether that is how we want to spend the time we have.
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Thank you Net Galley and First Second Books for the Advanced Readers Copy.

Graphic novel with very cute art, and fun supporting characters. Doesn’t feel fully developed, the plot is very linear with very little turmoil. I never feel like the main character is actually upset that she finds herself being a skeleton. Also the ending is a pretty big let down. For a kids comic I would have loved to have seen more critical thinking skills shown by the main characters, where she has to problem solve herself. Instead it’s just her wandering and going “I have a problem” and then another character goes “have you tried_____” and then she tries it. The whole book is just a skeleton kid going around to make monster friends, which I usually like, it’s just usually done with more character growth which is entirely lacking from this book. Great idea, fun character design, I love seeing more graphic novels made for kids, but I think with a little more story telling effort they can turn this ok story into a great story that kids will want to read for generations. 

Spoilers below:


The ending of the book has the main character (who is a child) run away from her human village and become a monster, instead of trying to help the villagers understand the monsters. She never once even goes, “your wrong about them, monsters are my friends” instead she just runs away from the negativity around her and doesn’t try to fix anything. Yes having kids prove adults wrong, and striving for acceptance despite differences is cliche but it’s a tried and true formula. 

A fun and memorable ending for this graphic novel would be Prunella shouting to the villagers  “they’re not the monsters you are!” Then journeying back to the temple where the ring was made, and finding a way to turn the whole village into “monsters”. Then when prunella returns to the village she finds everyone getting along. They tell her it was hard and they hated it at first, but being able to remove your limbs at will is pretty nifty, they even created a new sport that utilize all the perks of being a monster. Then Prunellas mom shows up who is also a skeleton, saying something silly like, “now that I’m a Skeleton nobody knows how old I am, I’ve decided to get into modeling, like I’ve always wanted to”  This is the sort of ending I would like to see, but that’s just me.
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I really enjoyed the theme of loving oneself and being different is not something to be feared or hated. 
I also loved the artwork!
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Prunella is a delightful read. Prunella is a kind girl among not so kind people. She finds friends in "monsters". Those monsters are the ones who become her loyal friends and help her on her journey to lift a curse. 
The illustrations are captivating and story is interesting.  Definitely recommended for your collection.
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One of the better junior comics I've seen in many a month, if not for years.  Here is the broad stroke – both to the art and to the comedy – but it all works and all looks and reads wonderfully on the page.  Prunella is growing up in a village where some doom-sayers are threatening of dread beasts from without – but when she puts on a magical jewelled ring in the shape of a skull, she turns into a skeleton version of herself, and faces exile in the land of the monsters.

It's a brisk, humorous read, not afraid to use wordless establishing shots, and the hand-colouring is exemplary at times, making sure this has a visual class many deem unnecessary when targeting readers in single digits.  And in going down the roads towards wackiness – while never quite arriving at Full-On Bonkers, thankfully – this has a kind of European feel.  Prunella's party of friends as she seeks a way out of being a skeleton certainly becomes a most unusual one, but even if you doubt some of them when they first appear (the talking, bouncing rock, and the giant one) they all come across as good entertaining company, both for us and for her.

All told, this makes for a wonderfully inventive, colourful and lively young fantasy read.  And while so many such books just want to replicate the Saturday morning cartoon, this went the other way and achieved all it wanted with distinction.  So with both its success and its rarity in mind, I feel five stars is the only response.
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Prunella finds a magic ring that turns her into a skeleton. Due to their own fear and hatred of monsters, the townspeople drive Prunella out of town and into the forest, where she meets and befriends several REAL monsters who aid her on her journey to becoming a little girl again. This graphic novel was spooky in the cutest way, and has such a sweet message about overcoming fear and hatred with friendship and a kind heart.
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I loved this so much! The artwork was fantastic. The story was so good. It has a great message. You cannot choose your family, but you can choose your friends. I loved all the different monsters throughout the story. They were all unique and different in their own way. Prunella has such a kind heart and I just loved her. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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This is a very cute graphic novel about a little girl with a kind heart, who lives in a village that is terrified of the monsters outside. Prunella finds a ring in her garden and puts it on her finger, only to find herself turned into a skeleton. She is run out of town, but with courage and kindness, befriends the "monsters" she encounters, who are truly more friendly than the humans inside the town's walls. 
This is a sweet fable about how we choose our friends, and even our family. Prunella is a plucky, friendly, brave girl that readers will cheer for.  I loved the twist at the end, even when I could see it coming. 
Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy.
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(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Netgalley.)

Young Prunella lives with her mom in a small village. Though they're on an island teeming with natural beauty, sentient creatures, and magic, you wouldn't know it - Prunella's community is walled off from the forest, the mountains, and the beaches. And there's a rumble to build the wall even higher, as fears of monster attacks spread throughout the town.

In the midst of this panic, Prunella find a mysterious ring while tending to her backyard garden. When she puts in on, she's transformed into a skeleton. Horrified, her fellow citizens mistake her for a "real" monster and promptly banish her from the village.

And so Prunella goes on a quest to break the curse of the skull ring. Along the way, she gets to know the "monsters" with whom she shares the island - skeletons, dragons, giants, stone megaliths, wisps, even the great cat sphinx who guards the island and its inhabitants - and discovers that they possess more humanity than the humans in her village. 

PRUNELLA AND THE CURSED SKULL RING is an absolutely adorable and compassionate story, perfect for readers of all ages. The narrative has some pretty obvious real world parallels (all the "build this wall" talk gave me flashbacks to 2016!), making it an excellent way to introduce young readers to concepts like othering, prejudice, and the like. The artwork is charming AF, from the giant proudly introducing Prunella and Captain Rip Skeleton to their miniature home, to Prunella's entry into Cedarton. I wondered - not with a little apprehension - how Loux would wrap up the story, and the ending does not disappoint (a little bit snarky, with nary a whiff of eye-rollingly unrealistic optimism).
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While gardening, Prunella finds a ring that once put on transforms her into a skeleton. 
Can she break this curse?

Loved this. The village of humans is the problem in here, the monsters on the island are kind and want to help Prunella on her quest. We meet many different species of mythical creatures.

Colourful illustrations, great pacing, full recommendations

The arc was provided by the publisher.
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A fun romp through a beautifully imagined world of creatures where the actual monsters are the humans and who prioritize image and reputation above all else. 

The dynamic art brings so much life and emotion to the creatures in this world. Dynamic character designs also bring levity to what could otherwise be a scary situation with a sheltered character venturing into the wide world for the first time.

Some of the dialogue felt overly wordy and the end felt disappointing in our protagonist's utter disinterest in sharing her discoveries with her people. The flaws did not distract too much from the story, however.
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This was a fun, adventurous story with great illustrations and interesting characters.
I loved the giant with his bonsai trees!
Is ideal for 8-12 year olds although I think any age would enjoy it
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This graphic novel tells the story of a little girl named Prunella who discovers a skull ring that turns her into a monster. She seems to live in some kind of medieval time type world where people are very concerned about keeping monsters outside their peasant village area. When Prunella changes to a skull she is banished to a land called Cedarton that seems to have tons of monsters living there. The book is about 160 pages long and while most pages have some thought or speech bubbles there are also some pages that have no text. I think this book would be pretty interesting and easy to follow for middle grade students who are developing the skills to read longer books but benefit from pictures to support their comprehension of texts. Graphic novels are definitely very popular right now and I think this book would fit right in with the other similar texts that are drawing in tons of young readers. As a grade 3 teacher, I would definitely consider purchasing a copy of this book for my classroom library and would recommend this book to parents and teachers of children in the age 7-12 range. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book!
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This was such a sweet book! I really like books that really aim at showing the issues with othering a group. The basic premise is that Prunella lives on a island where there are monsters. The Humans have built a wall to keep them out. While gardening, Prunella finds a cursed ring that turns her into a skeleton. She is ousted and sent to live the monsters. It turns out that the  monsters are very nice and are helping Prunella reverse the curse.  
As soon as I finished the book, I knew at least three kids that would love this book! This is a great book about prejudices and finding a community that accepts you. It is great for kids who are interested in more creepy books but don't want to be scared. Fans of D and D books or really any fan of monsters would like it. It also has a similar vibe to Spirited Away by Miyazaki. The art work is cute with the perfect balance of text. I cannot wait to have this in my library!
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