Posted in Graphic Novels, professional development

YALSA announces Great Graphics Novels for Teens!

Diamond Comics’s Bookshelf email is a great resource for anyone who loves and/or works with graphic novels. This week, they reminded me that YALSA released their Great Graphic Novels for Teens list, along with a great graphic of the Top Ten. Clicking graphic will link you directly to the article on Diamond’s Bookshelf page.

I read six out of the top 10 this year, and 36 out of the total 125. This is a solid list; really happy with it. And now that I’m seeing the Wonder Twins is up here? Ridiculously excited; I just requested it and had to restrain myself from requesting about 25 more right off the bat. For the total list, click here, and consider signing up for Diamond’s emails, if you don’t already get them. You can visit the site here and see for yourself.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Graphic Novels for Tweens and Teens

I’m back with more graphic novels! It’s an all-consuming joy of mine; I love them all. I’ve got some newer and up-and-coming books, and some backlist that shouldn’t be missed. I’ve got books for middle grade/middle school, and I’ve got teen/YA, so let’s see what’s good!

Sylvie, by Sylvie Kantorovitz, (Jan. 2021, Walker Books US), $24.99, ISBN: 9781536207620

Ages 9-13

An autobiographical graphic novel that really hits the sweet spot for middle schoolers but will also appeal to upper elementary and high schoolers, Sylvie is the story of the author and illustrator’s life, quirks and all. She grows up in a school where her father was principal. She loves art from an early age, but her mother is focused on her pursuing a career in math or science. The book follows her family as they add more children to the family and Sylvie’s mother doggedly pushes her academically. As she grows in confidence, and seeks her father’s council, Sylvie takes control of her own future. Artwork is cartoony and friendly, and easy-to-read, first-person narration makes Sylvie readers feel like they’re talking with a friend. Discussions about racism and anti-Semitism in ’60s and ’70s France sets the stage for discussion.

Candlewick/Walker Books US has a sample chapter available for a preview.

 

Tell No Tales: Pirates of the Southern Seas, by Sam Maggs/Illustrated by Kendra Wells, (Feb. 2021, Amulet), $21.99, ISBN: 9781419739668

Ages 10-14

Another middle school-geared book, Tell No Tales is a fictionalized account of pirate Anne Bonny, pirate Mary Read, and their female and non-binary pirate crew. They have a growing reputation, but a privateer is on their heels: Woodes Rogers, a failed pirate turned pirate hunter for the Crown, has sworn to wipe the stain of piracy from the seas. There are strong positive female and non-binary characters, based on characters from history, but the overall story falters, leaving readers to look for the thread in between the individual stories of Bonny’s crew, all of which are fascinating. The artwork is colorful, manga-inspired, and will grab viewers. Back matter includes a word on the real-life exploits of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, notes, and a bibliography.

Publishers Weekly has an interview with Sam Magga and Kendra Wells. 

Fantastic Tales of Nothing, by Alejandra Green & Fanny Rodriguez, (Nov. 2020, Katherine Tegen Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9780062839473

Ages 8-13

One of the most beautifully illustrated graphic novels I’ve ever seen, Fantastic Tales of Nothing is one of heck an epic fantasy for middle graders and tweens, and early teens. Nathan is a human living what he considers a pretty ordinary life until that fateful day when he wakes up in the middle of nowhere and meets a being named Haven and a race of shape shifters called the Volken. As the unlikely group find themselves on a quest, Nathan also learns that he isn’t that ordinary – he has mysterious power in side of him, and the fate of Nothing lies in his hands. Vivid color, breathtaking fantasy spreads, and solidly constructed worldbuilding lays the foundation for what could be a groundbreaking new fantasy series for middle graders, with nonbinary and Latinx representation to boot. Where are the starred reviews for this book?

Tales of Nothing received IndieNext Honors. The website has more information about the characters, authors, and upcoming projects.

 

Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry, by Julian Peters, (March 2020, Plough Publishing House), $24, ISBN: 9780874863185

Ages 12+

Illustrator Julian Peters has taken 24 poems by some of the most recognizable names in the art form, and brought them to life using different art forms, from manga to watercolor to stark expressionist black and white.  Organized into six areas of introspection: Seeing Yourself; Seeing Others; Seeing Art; Seeing Nature; Seeing Time, and Seeing Death, Peters illustrates such master works as “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou, “Annabel Lee”, by Edgar Allan Poe, and “Juke Box Love Song” by Langston Hughes. It’s a great way to invite middle school, high school, and college students to deep dive into some of the greatest works of poetry.

Marvin: Based on The Way I Was, by Marvin Hamlisch with Gerald Gardner/Adapted and Illustrated by Ian David Marsden, (Feb. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764359040

Ages 9-13

This graphic adaptation of PEGOT (Pulitzer, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winner Marvin Hamlisch’s biography is one I did not see coming! The legendary musician, composer, and conductor discusses his family’s flight from Hitler’s Austria and settling in America, Hamlisch’s admittance to Julliard at the age of 6, and the intense anxiety that plagued him before every performance. He tells readers about attending high school with Christopher Walken and Liza Minelli, and playing the piano for Judy Garland as a teen; about composing pop radio hits and learning to compose music for a motion picture as he went along. By the time he was 30, he’d won his first major award. Hamlisch’s voice is funny, warm, and conversational throughot, and Marsden’s realistic art has touching moments, particularly between Hamlisch and his father. A great read for theatre and music fans – this one is going to be my not-so-secret weapon.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

A CYBILS graphic novel rundown

I know, being on the CYBILS first round, I can’t give TOO much away about graphic novels I’m reading, but I did have these on my TBR before I was nominated to judge, so… I’ll just talk them up a wee bit. To whet your appetite for what’s coming.

Softies: Stuff That Happens After the World Blows Up, by Kyle Smeallie, (Oct. 2020, Iron Circus Comics), $15, ISBN: 9781945820489

Ages 10-14

This is sort of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, with a dose of stuffed animals tossed in for good measure. Earth blows up: kablooey, just like that. But there’s a survivor! Kay, a thirteen-year-old girl, is floating around in space when she’s rescued by Arizona, an alien space-junk collector, and his cybernetic pet Euclid. Arizona looks like a cuddly pink space stuffie that you’d find on the shelves in Target, and Euclid would definitely have his own action figure. There are laughs to be had, especially when Kay explains where she’s from, time and again, to blank faces – we’re not that well-known in the universe after all – and the levels of bureacracy that pop up time and again, as the new friends make their way through space. Softies is comprised of short stories, put together into one volume. The artwork is cartoony and very kid-friendly; the material is probably better suited for higher middle grade to middle school. There are some chuckleworthy moments and some sweet moments as Arizona and Kay try to figure things out together in this new relationship they’re forging. The storytelling has some lags, but overall, kids will get a kick out of it. Good to have for those tough-to-pin-down middle school collections.

 

The Magic Fish, by Trung Le Nguyen, (Oct. 2020 Random House Graphic), $23.99, ISBN: 9780593125298

Ages 12+

Told in parallel narratives between fairy tales and real life, The Magic Fish is the story of Tiến, a Vietnamese teen who loves his family but lives with a secret that he fears will change things. He’s gay, and doesn’t quite know how to come out to them. He shares stories with his parents, particularly his mother, and we can see the story within the story here: each is about suffering, and eventually, rising above difficult circumstances, which mirrors not only Tiến’s life, but his mother’s escape from Vietnam to America and her longing to be with her mother. The artwork itself is breathtaking; the fairy tale scenes are incredible, dreamlike; Tiến’s reality is realistically drawn with fleshed-out characters and expressive body language. Sensitive, beautifully drawn, and perfect for teen collections. The Magic Fish has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus, and is an Indie Next pick.

Witches of Brooklyn, by Sophie Escabasse, (Sept. 2020, Random House Graphic), $12.99, ISBN: 9780593119273
Ages 8-12
I LOVED this magical story! Effie is a kid whose mom has passed away, and she’s brought to Brooklyn to live with her aunt, Selimene; a woman she’s never met before. Selimene and her partner, Carlota, are two “herbalists” who just seem plain weird to Effie, until she discovers that the two women are… shhhh… witches. Good witches, to be sure, but witches! And shortly after arriving, Effie discovers her hands start glowing and that she’s a witch, too! Could this day get better? You bet – she makes two great friends in school, and when she arrives home, discovers that her favorite pop star, Tily Shoo, is in her house in need of Selimene and Carlota’s help. Everything is fun about Witches of Brooklyn, which also has wonderful storytelling and statements about family. Great artwork, great character development and storytelling, and  – let’s hope – more to come. Give this to your Lumberjanes readers and while you’re at it, hand them a copy of Emma Steinkellner’s graphic novel, The Okay Witch.
Swamp Thing: Twin Branches, by Maggie Stiefvater/Illustrated by Morgan Beem, (Oct. 2020, DC Comics), $16.99, ISBN: 9781401293239
Ages 12+
Twin brothers Alec and Walker Holland are sent off to spend their last summer before college with their rural cousins after catching their father having an affair. Alec, the studious one, buries himself in a lab where he continues working on a project that takes everything in him – a bit literally – to keep going, while Walker hits the social scene. The two brothers find themselves diverging this summer, with tensions and memories forcing their way between the two. And the swamp… well, that’s just waiting for someone, isn’t it? Maggie Stiefvater is an amazing YA writer, and Morgan Beem has a nice list of comics illustration to her credit. She creates an eerie atmosphere with her green and murky artwork, giving Maggie Stiefvater’s creepy storytelling a wonderfully oogie vibe. I’ll be honest, the story dipped for me a few times when Alec gets caught up in his botany discussions, but the overall storytelling is strong and macabre; very American Gothic.
Posted in awards, Cybils, Graphic Novels

Cybils Check-In: Graphic Novels

Yesterday was the closing date for the 2020 Cybils nominees: did you get your picks in? So now, the reading begins. Actually, the reading’s been going on; I’m a first-round judge in Graphic Novels this year, so my Holds list runneth over with all sorts of great nominees.

This year, because of… well, 2020 being 2020, Graphic Novels is collapsed into one category, and we’re reading both YA and Middle Grade graphic novels, which fits perfectly in my wheelhouse. I’m thrilled with the graphic novel storytelling happening these days; there are great autobiographical stories, like Robin Ha’s Almost American Girl, and great realistic fiction, like Nat Enough. Fun fantasy stories, like Dungeon Critters, and all the superheroes you can imagine, thanks to DC’s middle grade and YA original graphic novels. I’m proud of this medium and what it’s accomplished: there’s a lot of respect for the power of sequential storytelling now, and being part of the Cybils Graphic Novels panel means so much.

No spoilers here – I won’t be writing about the novels we’re discussing, but full disclosure, several novels were on my review list before they were Cybils nominees. I’ll review those as I normally would, mention that they are a Cybils nominee, and that’s it.

 

I’ve got a stack of books to get to, so I’ll close here for now. More to come!

Posted in Uncategorized

Steve Pugh’s Harley Quinn poster promotes graphic novel love!

I love, love, LOVE, comic books, and I love, love, love, Harley Quinn, so I was super-excited to see that artist Steve Pugh has created a Harley Quinn poster for DC Comics’s “Be a Hero, Read a Book” campaign. Steve Pugh tweeted an unlettered poster last month, and somehow, I just found it, thanks to today’s Diamond Bookshelf e-mail. The Harley featured here is inspired by teen Harley from last year’s Mariko Tamaki original graphic novel, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, which, if you haven’t read yet, you MUST.

I NEED THIS POSTER IMMEDIATELY.

I picked up a set of posters from last year’s campaign at ALA Midwinter earlier this year (wow… it feels like ancient history now), and they are GORGEOUS. You can find the posters and other resources for educators and librarians at DC’s page here.

Posted in Uncategorized

The CYBILS Judges Announced!

I’m running a little late on this one, but I wanted to make sure the word was out and about: the CYBILS Judges have been announced, and guess what?

I’m a Round One Graphic Novels Judge!! 

What does that mean? That means over the next few months, I am going to be reading A LOT of graphic novels. Like, a lot. But bring it! I haven’t been a Round One Judge in a few years, and I’ve usually been a Round Two Judge on Speculative fiction so this is exciting and new for me! Let me give some love to my co-judges in Round One; make sure you visit their blogs, too!

Maggi at Books for Squids

Rebecca at Sloth Reads

Cecelia at The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia

Christa at This is a Metaphor

Josephine at Jo the Book Girl

Reshama at Stacking Books

 

Can’t wait to start reading and talking graphic novels with this fine group of folx!

Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Fantasy Graphic Novels for Teens

Ever After, by Olivia Vieweg, (Sept. 2020, Graphic Universe), $16.99, ISBN: 9781728412924

Ages 12+

Translated from the German 2012 graphic novel Endzeit, Ever After is an unsettling zombie apocalypse story. Two German cities – Weimar and Jena – are survivor outposts in the days after the zombie apocalypse. Two young women, Vivi and Eva, travel from the harsh conditions in Weimar to Jena, hoping for a better life, but both women have secrets. Vivi is tormented by visions of her younger sister, while Eva is in the middle of a transformation. The two form an unlikely friendship on the road, protecting one another from the living and the dead. The story is focused on the two women for the most part, making it an interesting character study in personality. The colorful manga-inspired artwork is a stark contrast to the bleak story, and there are some very graphic moments that may not appeal to some readers. The story drops readers into the beginning of the story with very little context, so it is a little fiddly at first, but I hit my stride pretty quickly. It’s an interesting new take on zombie stories; if you have readers who enjoy zombie horror, consider adding this to your shelves.

Endzeit was made into a movie in 2019.

 

Daughters of Ys, by M.T. Anderson/Illustrated by Jo Rioux, (Aug. 2020, :01First Second), $24.99, ISBN: 9781626728783

Ages 12+

Award-winning author M.T. Anderson and illustrator Jo Rioux create a feminist fantasy with a Celtic influence with Daughters of Ys. Ys, a seaside kingdom, is shaken when its Queen, Malgven, passes away. Her two daughters, Rozenn and Dahut, are horrified to discover their father in the arms of other women so soon after their mother’s passing, and grow apart. Rozenn, the heir to the throne, would rather be in the wild, surrounded by animals and nature; Dahut enjoys palace life and all the attention that comes with being the “beautiful daughter” – but she’s got a secret directly connected to the monsters that threaten the Kingdom of Ys: the monsters that Queen Malgven used to be able to keep away.

Based on a classic folktale, The Daughters of Ys has M.T. Anderson’s hallmark storytelling, with epic fantasy fleshed out with strong characters and complex relationships. Jo Rioux’s artwork beautifully creates a Celtic-inspired world, and her lush artwork gives the fluid feeling of the seaside kingdom surreal life. She uses shadows and moody coloring to wonderfully dramatic effect. Hand this to any of your fantasy readers, and for anyone interested in more reading about Ys, this Wikipedia page has some very good information and links.

MT Anderson has won multiple literary awards, including the 2006 National Young People’s Book Award for his book The Pox Party. His 2018 book with M.T. Anderson, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge, was nominated for the National Young People’s Book Award.

The Daughters of Ys has a starred review from School Library Journal.

Teen Titans: Beast Boy, by Kami Garcia/Illustrated by Gabriel Picolo, (Sept. 2020, DC Comics), $16.99, ISBN: 9781401287191

Ages 10+

The creative powerhouse that brought us the Raven original graphic novel is back with Teen Titans’s Beast Boy! Garfield Logan is 17 years old, and he wants things to happen! Senior year is almost over, and he can’t figure out how to get in with the in crowd, instead of being the pizza-eating, video-game loving nerd that everyone overlooks. Tired of being short and scrawny, he stops taking the supplements his parents always give him, and things start happening. He grows six inches overnight. His voice gets deeper, and he’s strong. Like, STRONG. And fast. It’s almost like he can… channel different animals? He starts taking dares from the social crowd, and Gar sees his chance for social currency! But although a big dare pays off, it also kicks something into motion, and Gar decides he needs answers from his parents. They’ve been keeping things from him, and it’s time they ‘fessed up. But his parents, and his best friends, Stella and Tank, aren’t the only people with a vested interest in Gar. A guy named Slade Wilson is skulking around town (DC fans will know that when Deathstroke shows up, that’s never good news), claiming to have some of the answers Gar’s looking for, but Slade is playing a longer game, and someone higher up is very, VERY interested in Gar.

I loved this Beast Boy origin story! I will be honest, though – while it doesn’t end abruptly, it does end with a lot of questions unanswered, so I hope there’s a second book in the works. There are nods to the Teen Titan fans know, including his green hair, his fanboy, upbeat attitude, and his self-deprecating humor. Kami Garcia nails it, as always, and Gabriel Picolo does his favorite Teen Titan (read the author and illustrator notes at the beginning of the book) justice by capturing Beast Boy’s look and attitude perfectly. Another DC YA graphic novel hit.

 

 

 

Posted in Graphic Novels, Non-Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Graphic Novels, Life Stories

I’ve been really loving the graphic novels coming out this year. Lots of life stories have found their voices in the pages of graphic novels; it’s a trend I’m enjoying, because the artwork really helps bring a person’s story to full, visual life, with little nuances and nods to things not always easily described with just words. Shades of grey; pops of color; a flash of a poster in a teen’s room: these are all things that a graphic novel can illustrated and communicate much more easily and quickly, reaching visual readers who may otherwise not experience the full breadth of a story. Here are some great lives I’ve read about recently.

Frankie, by Rachel Dukes, (Oct. 2020, Oni Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781549306884

Ages 12+

This is the sweetest book! Cartoonist Rachel Dukes is the Lucy Knisley of pet parenthood, as she chronicles life with her cat, Frankie. Rachel and their spouse, Mike, find the cutest black and white kitten outside their door, and Rachel is in love. Inspired by Rachel’s webcomic, Frankie is a series of vignettes in pet parenting, with comics taken from their webcomic and with some new material. Cat-lovers and pet-lovers will all recognize moments like Frankie choosing Rachel’s backpack over a snuggly new bed; the conversations we have with our furry friends; the nicknames we give them, and many, many, bedtime moments (what is it about sneezing in our faces as they settle in on our chests?). Frankie is adorable and full of personality that comes shining through the page. Rachel’s artwork is fun and expressive, silly and upbeat: it’s just what so many of us need to read these days! Each vignette has a name that pet parents will relate to, including moments like “Language Barriers”, “The Box”, “Night Song”, and “Cuddles”. Rachel includes a section on Quick Tips for Aspiring Cat Parents. Talk up to your readers who love Chi’s Sweet Home and Pusheen, and visit Rachel’s Frankie website for adorable downloadables! See more of their artwork on Rachel’s Instagram, and read more of their comics and buy some swag by clicking here, at MixTape Comics.

Little Josephine: A Memory in Pieces, by Valérie Villieu/Illustrated by Raphaël Sarfati, (Apr. 2020, Humanoids Inc.), $17.99, ISBN: 9781643375342

Ages 12+

Visiting nurse Valérie Villieu tells the story of Josephine, a patient that touched her heart, in this aching and quietly lovely story that examines the bonds between patient and nurse while it gives readers a look at the unsettling treatment of the elderly by overwhelmed social workers and home health aides. Josephine, an Alzheimer’s patient, lives alone in a Paris apartment when Valérie is assigned to her. While Josephine is at first resistant to Valérie’s help, the two eventually find common ground in humor. As Valérie strives to learn more about her charge, she discovers that Josephine is a playful, charming woman who enjoys conversation. Valérie expresses her frustration at an overloaded health care system, which leaves an elderly woman in the care of a conservator who just isn’t able to keep up with their caseload – a relatable, upsetting issue. Josephine’s lapses are creatively envisioned in fractured panels, where she’s swept away on her bed, or thrust into the middle of a chaotic panel. The colors are muted shades, giving the story a quiet dignity, even as we ache, seeing Josephine increasingly lost in her own world. A beautiful story of connection and a painful memoir of Alzheimer’s from a caregiver’s point of view, Little Josephine is gorgeous storytelling. Back matter includes an author’s note on Alzheimer’s Disease.

Gender Queer, by Maia Kobabe, (May 2019, Oni Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781549304002

Ages 14+

Gender Queer is illustrator Maia Kobabe (pronouns: e/em/eir)’s autobiography. Assigned female at birth but never quite feeling that designation fit, Kobabe journals em’s journey through fandom, identity, and sexuality; finally coming to the discovery that nonbinary and asexual are the best descriptors. From a rustic childhood, through puberty, high school, college, and grad school, we walk with Maia through years of introspection and self-discovery. Written as a journal, readers will hopefully see themselves, or gain an understanding of others as Kobabe describes the trauma of body dysmorphia and gynecological exams; appreciate em’s supportive family, and come away with sensitivity and compassion. Have this available for readers who identify as nonbinary or asexual. There are some strong resources to keep available for asexual and nonbinary readers, including Queer Books for Teens, and booklists from YALSA, Book Riot, GoodReads, and Tor. Author Jeanne G’Fellers has an excellent author webpage, including The Enby Booklist, containing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry with a non-binary focus. There is a lesson plan available for Gender Queer through Diamond Bookshelf.

Gender Queer has a starred review from School Library Journal, is a 2020 ALA Alex Award Winner and a 2020 Stonewall — Israel Fishman Non-fiction Award Honor Book.

Invisible Differences: A Story of Asperger’s, Adulting, and Living a Life in Full Color, by Julie Dachez, (Oct. 2020, Oni Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781620107669

Ages 12+

From her opening dedication: “This comic is dedicated to you. You, the deviants. People who are ‘too much like this’ or ‘not enough like that’, Julie Dachez creates a safe, welcoming space for readers delving into her graphic novel, revealing what life is like for a person living with Asperger’s Syndrome. Twenty-seven-year-old Marguerite loves staying home with her books, her little dog, her purring cats, and her soft pajamas. Within her silent apartment, they form her “cocoon”. She’s stressed by commuting to her job, but relies on routines to usher her through her day. Coworkers don’t seem to understand her. Her boyfriend is frustrated because she doesn’t want to go to parties and socialize as he does. As she searches for answers to her anxiety, she discovers that she is not alone: there is a community of people with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, and their experiences are there, online for Marguerite to read. No longer in the dark and alone, she begins a search for the right therapist, and the resources she needs to advocate for herself.

Julie Dachez’s black and white artwork skillfully uses reds and yellows to communicate Marguerite’s stressors and anxiety: loud conversations and everyday noise; panels are bathed in red to denote stressful moments in Marguerite’s day, when her defenses are running low, gradually fading back to black and white as she separates herself from social situations to recharge. Her red sneakers are the sole point of red that provide a reassuring, routine constant. Back matter includes a history of autism, information on Asperger’s Syndrome, and a list of resources for further reading (incuding children’s books!). A good book to have in your collection; consider also purchasing Camouflage: The Hidden Lives of Autistic Women, a nonfiction graphic novel by Dr. Sarah Bargeila and illustrated by Sophie Standing.

Posted in Conferences & Events

The Tri-State Book Buzz: Coffee, Breakfast, and Books

I attended the Tri-State Book Buzz this morning, where over 20 publishers invited librarians and educators for a morning of breakfast and kidlit, from board books to YA. There are some fantastic books to come! Let’s take a look at some of the big reveals first:

Graphic Novels

The big news here is that Random House is starting their own dedicated graphic novel imprint, Random House Graphic, headed up by Publishing Director Gina Gagliano, who is just a great person, who genuinely adores graphic novels, and wants kids to love them, too. RH Graphic is dedicated to putting a graphic novel on every readers’ shelf; meaning, they’re going to publish graphic novels for all ages and interests. The debut list looks good, with graphic novels for intermediate readers, middle graders, and teens all lined up and ready to go in the near year: Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger is about two bug friends, aimed at intermediate readers, and fans of Narwhal and Jelly; The Runaway Princess by Johan Troïanowski and Thom Pico and Karensac’s Aster and the Accidental Magic are geared for middle graders and star strong female characters, and Witchlight is a YA graphic novel by Jessi Zabarsky, about two women traveling and growing together. These are the first four books in 2020, with 8 more to come later in the year.

 

GRAPHIX WEEK! Scholastic has a week of graphic novels programming coming up in December (the 9th-13th) for their TeachGraphixWeek celebration. There’s going to be classroom activities, Twitter chats, and a live Facebook broadcast with Raina Telgemeier, Kazu Kibuishi, and more, which assures that my Corona Kids will be losing their minds. For now, there’s a link to sign up for more information; the sites from previous Graphix Week haven’t been updated for this year’s content just yet.

Speaking of Graphix, the big news is that Lauren Tarshis’ I Survived books are getting the Graphix treatment! The first two books release in February (I Survived the Titanic) and June (I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916), and this will surely send the kids into a frenzy. I found out from Ms. Tarshis herself a couple of weeks ago, when one of my Corona Kids and I were wondering why this series hadn’t gotten the graphic novel treatment yet; we Tweeted at the author, who responded, lightning-fast, with a copy of the Titanic cover, causing my Corona Kid and I to dance with joy. (Side note: Tweet your authors! They are amazing people and the kids love to be acknowledged!)

Graphix is also taking on the Geronimo Stilton graphic novels, with the first one, The Sewer Rat Stink, coming in May and written by Origami Yoda writer (and HUGE Stilton fan) Tom Angleberger! (The Stilton graphic novels have been, up until now, published by Papercutz).

For the Shannon Hale/Raina Telgemeier readers, Graphix has a realistic fiction story, Nat Enough, by Maria Scrivan, coming in April. Nat is a sixth grader who feels like she isn’t cool enough for her best friend, and tries to change, but will figure out, along the way, that she’s just fine as is.

 

Macmillan (shout-out to First Second!) has some good graphic novels, too. I’m interested in Go With the Flow, a middle grade novel about body positivity, resistance, and feminism when a group of girls push back when their school invests more money in their (male) athletes’ comfort than in restocking menstrual products in their school. Breaking the menstrual taboo for middle grade is so important, especially when so many middle and high school bathrooms are sorely lacking in feminine hygiene product availability (don’t get me started on this). I’m definitely looking forward to this one. Romper has a good article and sneak peek for you.

Also coming from Macmillan/First Second: John Patrick Green’s InvestiGators (my son has nicked my BookExpo copy; if I can get it back, you’ll get a review from both of us), the first in a new series, coming in February.

 

Finally, Amulet, the children’s publishing imprint for Abrams, has a new Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tale! Major Impossible is the ninth book in the series and tells the story of John Wesley Powell, a one-armed geologist who explored the grand canyon.

Picture Books

There are TOO many picture books to shout out individually, so I’ll put up a couple of highlights. Let’s just say that end of 2019/beginning of 2020 is going to be a very good year.

Vanessa Brantley-Newton, whose Youngest Marcher and Mary Had a Little Glam are some of my recent favorites, is coming out with Just Like Me, “an ode to the girl with scrapes on her knees and flowers in her hair, and every girl in between”. Sounds like storytime magic happening to me!

Picture Book Biographies

Aretha Franklin is getting a picture book biography treatment from Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrator Laura Freeman. Bloomsbury is publishing A Voice Named Aretha in January 2020. Mary Walker, who learned to read at the age of 116, is also getting a picture book biography; Random House Children’s Books is publishing The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read, by Lorrain Hubbard and illustrated by Oge Mora, in January; Disney/Hyperion has Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Eric Velasquez, coming in February. Sourcebooks has a picture book biography of Jennifer Keelan, the young activist who participated in The Capitol Crawl in 1990 at the age of 8 to demand passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Jennifer, who has cerebral palsy, climbed out of her wheelchair and up the steps of the Capitol. Annette Bay Pimentel authors, Ali Haider illustrates, and Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins writes the forward.

Hello, Neighbor! The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers, by Matthew Cordell, debuts in May from Holiday House, created by Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell. It’s the only authorized picture book biography on Fred Rogers, and I can’t wait to see it. If you haven’t read A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers, illustrated by Luke Flowers (from Quirk Books), please get a copy on your shelves. Introduce our kids to Mister Rogers; we need him back.

Little Bee’s Grandpa Grumps is an adorable multi-generational story about a little girl and her grumpy grandpa who comes to visit from China. The two bond over cooking, and there’s a recipe at the end. The art is Pixar-inspired, and absolutely adorable. Grandpa Grumps, by Katrina Moore, with art by Xindi Yang, pubs in April.

 

Disney Book Group has Love, Sophia on the Moon, a book I think I’ll have to buy my niece. Sophia writes a letter to her mother, telling her she’s run away to the moon., where there are no time-outs and early bedtimes. Mom responds with a sense of humor. Who hasn’t wanted to run away to the moon? Heck, I think about it even now.

 

Holiday House is also publishing In My Garden; originally written in 1962 by Charlotte Zolotow and reimagined by Philip Stead. It’s a lovely, intergenerational story about a child and older adult who spend time in a beautiful garden as the seasons pass.

The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh, by Supriya Kelkar and illustrated by Alea Marley, is already out, and is a beautifully illustrated book about an Indian American boy, a practicing Sikh, who matches his patka – his head covering – to his emotions and occasions. I haven’t seen this one yet, so I’ll be requesting it and reading it ASAP.

 

Rainbow Fish author Marcus Pfister has a new book out! Who Stole the Hazelnuts? starts off with a terrifying scream when Squirrel discovers that someone has stolen his hazelnuts! The art on this is hilarious, and Squirrel’s face is my entire mood on some days. I mean, honestly. Tell me you can’t relate:

 

We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade is the beautifully illustrated and narrated story of the Standing Rock Pipeline protest, from a Native American child’s perspective. Due out in March, this is a book I’m going to make sure we have on our shelves.

 

Look at this adorable book! Oliver the Curious Owl is a young owl who wants to know all the big questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? He decides to go on his own adventure to see if he can learn some answers to his questions. I’m already planning owl storytimes for this book by Chad Otis. The book won’t be out until August 2020. I can wait. I can wait. I won’t be patient about it, but I can wait.

 

STEM

Picture books, nonfiction books, there are all sorts of ways to work STEM/STEAM into kids books, and there are some really good ones coming.

Chris Ferrie, my favorite kidlit science guru, has My First 100 Science Words, introducing the littlest readers to awesome science words like food chain, fluorescence, and cell. Illustrated by Lindsay Dale Scott, it’s the cutest little science book I’ve ever seen. (Until, let’s be honest, his next book.)

 

Charlesbridge has a great Winter/Spring line, with loads of STEM/STEAM books in the works. Mario and the Hole in the Sky is about Mexican-American scientist and Nobel Laureate Mario Molina. Publishing simultaneously in English in Spanish, by Elizabeth Rusch and illustrated by Teresa Martinez, Mario publishes in less than a month: you can get it in November. Earth Hour, by Nanette Heffernan and illustrated by Bao Luu, invites kids to take part in Earth Hour, where communities all over the world are encouraged to turn off non-essential electricity for one hour. Earth Hour is publishing in January, with activities and ideas for kids all over the world; there’s more than enough time to prepare Earth Hour activities for March, when Earth Hour happens. You’re Invited to a Moth Ball is a collaboration with scientist Loree Griffin Burns and photographer Ellen Harasimowicz; it’s a “nighttime insect celebration” with advice on how kids can throw their own Moth Ball. Sterling is releasing The Boy Who Thought Outside the Box: The Story of Video Game Inventor Ralph Baer, by Marcie Wessels and illustrated by Beatriz Castro, in March.

Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann have Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera coming in April from Holiday House, and the artwork is just breathtaking. It’s the story of a honeybee’s journey through life, and the detail is just wonderful.

 

Sterling has three adorable STEM/STEAM stories coming soon: When Grandpa Gives You A Toolbox (March 2020), by Jamie L.B. Deenihan and illustrated by Lorraine Rocha; where a young boy wants storage for his dolls, receives a toolbox from his grandfather, and overcomes his disappointment when he discovers that he can use the toolbox to make a storage box by himself. Invent-a-Pet (May 2020), by Vicky Fang and illustrated Tidawan Thaipinnarong, a a STEM and coding story about a girl who decides that the best pet you can have is the one you make on your own. 

 

There were SO MANY BOOKS. This is just a quick rundown of some of the picture books and graphic novels to come. Up next, middle grade and YA.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Guide, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Comics: Easy as ABC! is essential kid and grownup reading!

Comics: Easy as ABC! The Essential Guide to Comics for Kids, by Ivan Brunetti, (Apr. 2019, TOON Books), $16.95, ISBN: 9781943145447

Ages 8-12

Ivan Brunetti and an all-star cast of comics luminaries put together a compulsively readable guide to cartooning and comics for kids and grownups alike. An Understanding Comics for younger readers, Comics: Easy as ABC! introduces kids to the joy of cartooning and doodling; drawing characters whose faces and body language communicate emotion and personality; perspective; point of view; lettering, and so much more. There are quotes and excerpts of comic panels and drawings by such comics and graphic novel notables including Neil Gaiman, Elise Gravel, Liniers, and Jeff Smith. TOON Editorial Director and New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly notes, in her introduction, that she hopes Comics: Easy as ABC! encourages more people to fall in love with comics and to inspire budding cartoonists.

This is such a great volume to have as a desk reference for librarians, parents, and educators, because it’s a crash course in understanding comics. It gives a language to the artwork, letting us look at all art – comic books, naturally, but picture books and illustrated chapter books, too – and explain to readers how to read art; how to decipher facial expressions and body language, how to read a landscape and understand a setting for a panel or spread. The book encourages readers to “draw their own conclusions” by letting them fill in the ending of a comic strip drawn by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and artist Art Spiegelman, and “find their own voices”, with guidance from author Eleanor Davis. A section dedicated to parents, teachers, and librarians guides us grown-ups through the process of how to read comics with kids, with examples, advice, and callout tips like, “The child who makes informed guesses is reading. Enjoy, and hold back from correcting”. Information about the TOON Into Reading Program explains TOON’s leveled reading (also broken further into Lexile, Guided Reading, Reading Recovery, and grade levels). An index, further resources, and a bibliography round out this information-packed guide to the world of comics and graphic novels.

TOON! does it again. This is an essential volume for your graphic novels shelves, and for your desk reference. There’s a 7-page free, downloadable Teacher’s Guide available on the website.