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

Graphic Novels check-in: CYBILS and some new books!

The TBR catch-up continues. Wow, did I overextend myself over the quarantine, but who can blame me? The books have been AMAZING. I know I’ve been light on the middle grade novels, but I promise you, they are coming, too. For now, here are a couple of CYBILS nominees, and some new books for you to investigate.

 

Black Heroes of the Wild West: Featuring Stagecoach Mary, Bass Reeves, and Bob Lemmons : A TOON Graphic Novel, by James Otis Smith/Introduction by Kadir Nelson, (Sept. 2020, TOON Graphics), $16.95, ISBN: 9781943145515
Ages 8-12
This is a MUST buy for your nonfiction and graphic novel shelves. The New York Times calls Black Heroes of the Wild West “Comics That Dismantle the Cowboy Myth”, and I couldn’t put it any better. Three profiles: Stagecoach Mary Fields, a woman who ran her own business, was a stagecoach driver, and played cards and chomped cigars with the best of the boys; Deputy US Marshal Bass Reeves, the first black deputy US marshal west of the Mississippi, who was charming and caught the bad guys with style; and Bob Lemmon, a Texas horseman who calmed wild mustangs by making them believe he was one of their own. Incredible lives, told in small moments in this book that will whet kids’ (and adults!) interests with stories of life in the Wild West. I loved the stories, the artwork, and the incredible history lesson that unfolds in the back matter. It’s time to recognize the diversity of the Old West, and it’s time to celebrate the Black Lives that helped build the U.S. TOON has free, downloadable lesson plans, videos, and teachers guides for Black Heroes of the Wild West, and the book received a starred review from Booklist. One can only hope there’s a second volume in the works. Black Heroes is a CYBILS graphic novels nominee.
Manga Classics: Anne of Green Gables, by L.M Montgomery/Adapted by Crystal Chan/Illustrated by Kuma Chan, (Nov. 2020, Manga Classics), $19.99, ISBN: 9781947808188
Ages 12+
I’ve been happy to have Manga Classics available for my tweens and teens who struggle with reading the classics, but devour manga. This latest one gave me the chance to sit down again with Anne of Green Gables, the classic story of the orphan reluctantly adopted by older siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, taking place on Canada’s Prince Edward Island. The artwork will immediately draw in manga readers, and the story is faithfully adapted here. Anne’s melodrama is wonderfully translated from words to pictures, and Marilla’s ice queen exterior is softened considerably by the artwork, which shows the struggle to keep herself at a distance as this quirky red-headed girl wins her heart. Manga Classics has been doing justice by my library kids for a few years now; I’ll make sure to keep this one handy, too. If you have readers who are interested in diving deeper, display and booktalk author LM Montgomery’s illustrated biography, House of Dreams; Anne’s life is heavily influenced by the author and will make for a wonderful author study for middle and high school students. Anne of Green Gables is a CYBILS graphic novels nominee.
Last Pick: Rise Up, by Jason Walz, (Oct. 2020, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781626728950
Ages 12+
The third book in the Last Pick series is finally here! Last Pick is a sci fi trilogy where Earth has been taken over by a cruel alien race; they’ve taken countless humans as slave labor across the universe, but the disabled; the elderly; the too young are left behind. These “last picked” have banded together to fight the alien menace, and Wyatt – a teen boy with autism – is at the head of the revolution. His sister, Sam, has been sent off into the stars, but she’s been fomenting revolution, too, with her new girlfriend, Mia; an underground freedom radio broadcaster. In this final chapter of the trilogy, everything that’s been put into motion over the last two books is coming together, and the aliens won’t know what hit them. The artwork ad action explode off the page while the very human story of resistance, family, and burgeoning romance keep the reader turning pages. This is one of the best sci-fi series in recent years, with intense, smart portrayals of characters who are left behind and how take charge to save a planet. I recently took part in a graphic novels panel, Librarians Love Comics!, and one of my colleagues mentioned how much he liked this series, so don’t just take my word for it. Last Pick is librarian-approved.
The Challenger Disaster: Tragedy in the Skies (History Comics), by Pranas T. Naujokaitis, (Oct. 2020, First Second), $19.99, ISBN: 9781250174291
Ages 8-12
It’s the year 2386, and the students on Space Station Sagan are celebrating Challenger Day. The students begin their presentations, and through the magic of AI and holograms, meet the seven members of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger crew, hear about their selection and training for the Challenger mission, and what went so horribly wrong that day in January 1986. Written as nonfiction within a fictional setting, The Challenger Disaster creates fun, engaging characters and lets them interact with actual people from US history to deliver a narrative that is great for history and STEM readers, and graphic novel readers alike. Each member of the 1986 Challenger crew is developed and invites readers to meet the people behind the legend, behind the headlines. Back matter includes an afterword from the author about growing up in a post-Challenger world and additional Challenger facts. The artwork introduces a fun science fiction feel while solidly addressing the nonfiction portion of the book. Sketches and diagrams throughout will help readers gain an understanding of the many moving parts it takes for a space shuttle to come together, and the discussion on the story behind the disaster is sobering and, quite frankly, chilling. It’s a mistake that should never have been made, and it brings home the risk of stepping outside our front doors.
Fangirl: The Manga (Volume 1), by Rainbow Rowell/Adapted by Sam Maggs, Illustrated by Gabi Nam (Oct. 2020, Viz Media). $16.99, ISBN: 9781974715879
Ages 12+
The manga adaptation of one of Rainbow Rowell’s most beloved novels is here, and written by a force in fandom, no less. Sam Maggs has written comic book storylines for Star Wars, Star Trek, Captain Marvel, and more; she’s written Geek Girls Guides to the Galaxy and the Universe; she’s even written an original middle grade novel, Con Quest, which takes place at a thinly veiled facsimile of San Diego Comic Con. So of course she’d be the person to adapt a love letter to fan fic, fandom, and finding your own way. Cath and Wren are twin sisters heading to college. Wren is ready to make changes and become her own person, but Cath is more of an introvert, holding onto her fanfiction and her fandom for Simon Snow, a Harry Potter-esque type of story about magic and vampires. As Wren branches out and gains new (and sometimes dubious) experiences, Cath finds herself inching out of her own comfort zone thanks to her roommate and her boyfriendish friend and a classmate who’s a little too stuck on himself but so good-looking. At the same time, Cath worries about their dad, who’s alone for the first time in years, and frustrated with her professor, who doesn’t see fanfiction as a legitmate form of writing. This is only Volume 1, but its so well-adapted that the Rowell fans are going to be howling for more. The subtle shifts from “real” life to Cath’s magnum Simon Snow opus, Carry On, are wonderfully placed throughout the book, and seriously – were two characters ever better suited for a manga interpretation than Simon and Baz? The artwork is perfect; readers will love seeing their favorite characters with life breathed into them. A manga interpretation of Fangirl is going to bring new fans to Rainbow Rowell’s fanbase as the manga readers discover this series – I hope there are plans for a Carry On manga next.
Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Historical Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

More manga classics! Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility

austenSense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen (adapted by Stacy King)/illustrated by Po Tse, (Udon Entertainment/Morpheus Studios, Aug. 2016). $19.99 ISBN: 9781927925638

Recommended for ages 12+

Udon’s Manga Classics line continues to put out the most popular literary classics in manga format, no doubt to the relief to high school and college students everywhere. This time out, I read Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. When sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood’s father dies, their family is forced by family finances and turmoil to move to a cottage in Devonshire. Elinor has high hopes for her former romantic interest, Edward, while Marianne falls for John Willoughby – who seems to be hiding something. Colonel Brandon, an older man, also shows interest in Marianne, but she’s initially afraid that he’s too old for her. Similar to Pride and Prejudice, we have romantic entanglements and complicated relationships. Manga fans who also want some reinforcement of the Austen classic will appreciate this more visual layout of all the relationships in this story. Great for middle, high school, and college students.

 

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

Add Manga Classics Jane Eyre to your TBR

manga-jane-eyreJane Eyre (Manga Classics), by Charlotte Bronte/adapted by Stacy King, (Jul. 2016, Udon Entertainment/Morpheus Publishing), $19.99, ISBN: 9781927925652

Recommended for ages 12+

I am loving the Manga Classics line from Udon Entertainment. This is my third one; I’ve read The Scarlet Letter and Pride and Prejudice – both books I struggled with in high school – and came away with a better grasp on them. This time, I read Jane Eyre, a book I really enjoy (I’m a Bronte fan), but know that kids tend to struggle with, too.

Jane is an orphan, left in the care of her awful aunt and cousins. She finally gets away and makes her way in the world as a governess, sent to the mysterious Mr. Rochester’s estate, where they fall in love. A dark secret in Mr. Rochester’s past gets in the way. It’s a Gothic novel, which lends itself nicely to a manga adaptation; there’s drama, angst, and enduring love, all of which shine in this visual adaptation.

As with the other books in Udon’s series, this is a nice companion to Bronte’s work; a solid introduction to new and reluctant readers in middle and high school.

Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Historical Fiction, Teen

The Scarlet Letter (Manga Classics) makes another classic more accessible to readers

cover57424-mediumThe Scarlet Letter (Manga Classics), by Nathaniel Hawthorne/adapted by Crystal Chan/illustrated by SunNeko Lee (2014, Udon Entertainment/Morpheus Publishing), $19.99, ISBN: 9781927925331

Recommended for ages 13+

Reading the story of Hester Prynne and her scarlet letter is a rite of passage in high school, but that doesn’t always make it an accessible book. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale of adultery and a small New England Puritan town can be difficult for reluctant or struggling readers. Udon Entertainment’s Manga Classics line reaches out to those readers with beautiful art and drills the story down to the main points and action, drawing a reader in and, in essence, teaching them how to read the novel.

As with Udon’s manga adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, the main story is faithfully intact, merely abridged for easier storytelling. This is by no means a replacement for the novel, but it serves two tremendous purposes: 1) to bring new readers to the story who may never have picked the book up before, and 2) to serve as a companion read to readers who have trouble with the novel. Manga is a popular art medium that’s been reaching beyond purely Japanese titles and finding a firm audience in American adaptations, from popular YA series like Twilight and Beautiful Creatures to classics like Les Miserables, Pride and Prejudice, and now, The Scarlet Letter.

I will be adding this book to my burgeoning manga classics collection. It would a fun display idea to feature the original and its manga adaptation side by side – I’d love to see how it affects my circulation.

The Scarlet Letter will be out in March, but you can pick up copies of Udon’s manga adaptations of Pride and Prejudice and Les Miserables right now.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Teen, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

Pride and Prejudice goes manga!

pride and prejudice mangaPride and Prejudice, Manga Classics, by Jane Austen (adapted by Stacy King)/illustrated by Po Tse. (Udon Entertainment/Myrick Marketing & Media, LLC, Aug. 2014). $19.99 ISBN: 9781927925188

Recommended for ages 12+

I’ll admit it – I’ve never been a huge Austen fan. My taste in classics runs more toward the Bronte sisters, filled with more angst, rage, crazy wives locked away, that whole gothic thing with the moors. Lately, I’ve been bound and determined to re-read Austen, though, and decided to start with Stacy King’s manga adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

I loved this retelling! Po Tse’s manga style art is lush and sophisticated, with sweeping panels and beautiful attention to detail. There are great little winks to the manga style I’m more familiar with (I have three sons, therefore I have watched much Pokémon), like the cartoony, wild expressions of absolute joy or despair, meant to encourage a reaction from the reader, that enhanced my enjoyment of this story.

The basic story is all here – the five Bennett daughters, the overbearing mother trying to marry them off, the headstrong Lizzie and the prideful Mr. Darcy – all here, with all the supporting players. The manga style allows for exaggerated facial expressions, adding a relatable dimension to the more restrained drawing room drama.

The book reads in manga style: that is, from right to left, and a note to readers at the end of the book explains this. There’s a letter to the reader from Stacy King, discussing the appeal of Pride and Prejudice to modern audiences, particularly teenagers.

This is a great introduction to the classics for tweens and teens, especially those who may find the classics “boring”. I’d love to get a few copies of these manga classics on my library shelves and get kids reading them in preparation for the real thing – it lays a great groundwork and adds faces to put to the names, so when they do pick up the book, they’ll be more familiar with the characters and the world where the story takes place.

And heck, I’m going to sit down and read Pride and Prejudice again, myself.