The Girl Who Owned a City by Dan Jolley. Illus by Joëlle Jones (Graphic Universe, 2012, 132pp.)
Lisa Nelson and her brother Todd live in a world without adult supervision—and it’s not as fun as it might sound. A deadly virus has killed every person over the age of 12. It’s everyone for himself, pretty much. Lisa has managed to support both Todd and herself by scavenging for food, but it’s not a lifestyle that she’s very fond of. After their food supply is stolen by Tom, the neighborhood bully and his gang, Lisa decides she’s had enough. She gathers the other children in the neighborhood and forms a community—a “city,” in her mind—that will live together and share food. Lisa and her followers settle into the abandoned local high school, building defenses and hidden tunnels—and soon find themselves under attack from Tom’s army. Adapted from O.T. Nelson’s 1975 novel of the same name, this treatment of the oft-visited “kids in control” theme is fast-paced and exciting. While there is some violence, including use of guns and guard dogs, the situations aren’t too perilous. Recommended for young adults, but could be enjoyed by older elementary children as well.