EMG Graphic Novel Round Up 7

The Golden Hour
by Nikki Smith
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There is some depiction of a school shooting, talk of PTSD, and depictions of anxiety attacks. It’s in the Middle Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

Manuel is just getting back to school after witnessing his teacher get shot in a shooting (it was during the break; he happened to be at school helping his teacher when it happened). He’s not going great, mostly because he keeps having panic attacks that get triggered by his environment or the words being said. But he makes friends with Sebastian and Cayasha, who are part of the ag club. He goes out to Sebastian’s family farm and learns about cows and chickens and farm work. He also discovers that taking photographs helps ground him in the present and reduces his panic attacks. But, when he goes off to camp with Sebastian, they come back strong. Will Manuel ever recover?

I really liked this one. Not only because it was set among the wheat fields of Kansas (and written by someone who grew up here!), but because Smith focused on the healing aspect of a shooting and not the terror part. I liked that she addressed PTSD in kids, and how to handle it (with a therapist, of course). A really solid graphic novel, and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

Enemies
by Svetlana Chmakova
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Others in the series: Awkward, Brave, Crush, Diary
Content: There is verbal fighting and sibling rivalry. It’s in the Middle Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

Felicity is an artist and a gamer and has tons of friends at middle school. What she is not: good at making deadlines. Her younger sister, Letty, who is accomplished in all the “right” ways, likes driving that point home. So, when Felicity sees a poster about a “pitch the future” contest, she figures it’s her chance to actually win for once. The problem is that when she shows up to the meeting, her ex-friend (now enemy?), Joseph Koh is there. How will she be able to come up with an idea and deal with the drama surrounding Joseph as well?

I’ve liked this series by Chmakova in the past (I’ve read three of the five now), and this one is no exception. They work well as standalones, but you can also read the entire series and get to know all the kids from the middle school. It’s a good depiction of middle school and the different challenges kids have. I liked that this one featured a black girl who liked art and gaming. I liked her parents, and I liked that the friendships weren’t always smooth. It’s a solid book in a solid series.

The Woman in the Woods
Edited by Kei McDonald, Kate Ashwin, & Alina Pete
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: A couple of the stories could be scary for sensitive readers. It’s in the Middle Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

In this collection of short folktales based on Indigenous mythologies and stories, there are trickster rabbits, shapeshifters, Rougarou, and other stories from differing tribes throughout the Americas.

All the stories were well-drawn and interesting, though my favorite was the Rougarou myth. Rougarou was a monster that existed because someone looked at a Rougarou. If you look at it, you turn into one, and you’re that way for 100 days. if you can survive the 100 days, you turn back, but with no memory. In this story, a boy finds the Rougarou in the woods, and knowing what he’s seeing, blindfolds himself. And then he proceeds to befriend the monster. It’s really sweet. It’s a good collection of stories and one I’m glad to have read.

Miss Quinces
by Kat Fajardo
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There is a death in the family, which might be difficult for some readers. It’s in the Middle Grade graphic novel section of the bookstore.

Sue just wants to go to sleepaway camp with her friends this summer, but her mami won’t let her go anywhere without her sisters, and besides, it’s their family trip to Honduras. Once in Honduras – away from cell phones and the internet! – Sue discovers that her mami has decided that Sue needs a quinceañera. Sue puts up a fight, initially, until her abuela (who isn’t doing too well), helps her find ways to make it more, well, Sue-like.

This is a super charming story about finding one’s place. Fajardo got across how hard it is to be a child of immigrants; not American enough to quite fit in (her mami has super strict rules, and doesn’t understand some of the things that Sue is into), but she doesn’t quite fit in with her family in Honduras, either (she doesn’t speak Spanish terribly well, and doesn’t want a quinceañera). I liked the story, overall, and there were some tender and touching moments. It’s an excellent graphic novel.

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