Graphic Novel Roundup, June 2014

I discovered that 1) I’m reading more graphic novels than usual right now. Perhaps because I’m picking up a bunch for K at the library due to summer reading. Her goal is to read 36 graphic novels by the end of July. She’s read 15 so far. And 2) I really like these graphic novel roundups. Here’s what I’ve been reading this month.

Will & Whit
by Laura Lee Gulledge
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: The cover is misleading; it’s not a romance. Not really. Thematically, it’s a little mature — it’s in the teen graphic novel section — but I’d give it to an interested 10- or 11-year-old.

The Will in the title is Wilhelmina Huckstep,  girl whose parents died in an accident recently, the summer before her senior year. She’s living with her aunt, who runs the family antiques store. The Whit in the story is Tropical Storm Whitney which causes the entire town to lose power, thereby creating a situation where everyone has to be unplugged from their technology and interact with each other. It’s delightfully drawn, and balances the dark — Will grieving for her parents and trying not to be a burden — and light — her wonderfully eclectic friends, and the Penny Farthing carnival they put on. There is some romance, with a couple of Will’s friends, but it was very sweet and not at all central to the plot. A delightful summer read.

Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite
by Barry Deutsch
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Others in the series: How Mirka Got her Sword
Content: There’s nothing. I’d let K read this, though she might be a bit confused with the Yiddish words. It’s in the middle reader graphic novel section.

Mirka has her sword, but she longs for more adventures. Instead, she’s stuck at home, knitting berets (its the only thing she can knit) because she’s grounded. Her stepmother, Fruma, just wants her to make reasonable choices. But Mirka is impulsive — something I love about her — and as soon as she could, she went back to the troll for her sword, craving something More. Then the troll sends a meteorite to earth, and the witch changes it into another Mirka. Suddenly, Mirka’s got someone she hast to share her life with. It’s complicated, and Mirka learns that adventures sometimes aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Like the first, this one is a delightful mix of Orthodox Judiasm and fantasy. And it works wonderfully. I adore Mirka, I love learning about her life, and I love the adventures Deutsch gives her. Fantastic.

A Game for Swallows
by Zeina Abirached
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There’s some talk of war and killing, so thematically it’s pretty intense. But, I wouldn’t object to giving it to a 10- or 11-year-old, if they expressed interest. It would been in the teen graphic novel section.

I know absolutely nothing of the Lebanese civil war that happened in from 1975 to 1990. I was a teenager in a small town in America, and it just wasn’t on my radar. But, thanks to Abirached, I have gotten a glimpse into what life was like for those going through it. The book takes place entirely in one night in the foyer of the apartment of two children as they wait for their parents to come back from their grandparents’ house. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but in East Beirut, full of shelling and snipers, it is. The foyer is the only safe place in the apartment, and their neighbors — from the young(ish) handyman to the older couple to the former French teacher to the older woman who has been a nanny for a family for 65 years — congregate there in the evenings. The mood ranges from celebratory — they make a cake and enjoy a game of Scrabble — to tense — when they find out that the children’s parents had left an hour earlier and had still not arrived. It’s a picture to how life goes on in the face of war, in the face of uncertainty and in the face of death. Done in very stark black-and-white drawings, it’s a very simple and powerful tale of human resilience.

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