Also laced with humor, but in a much more serious setting, is Cairo, written by G. Willow Wilson with art by M.K. Perker. With vivid, painterly artwork and a twisty plot that includes everything from demons and genies to drug runners and Israeli soldiers, the book sets its magic-realist tale of adventure and enlightenment in the context of the always volatile Middle East. A teenage Lebanese-American boy finds himself with a genie for a guardian/instructor, which is handy because he's unwittingly stumbled into the middle of a centuries-old battle between good and evil for control of an ancient wooden box and its mysterious contents. The smart, witty but sensitive writing is nuanced enough that the story never upsets the balance between reverence and entertainment.

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