YA Graphic Novel Roundup 5

Clementine: Book One
by Tillie Walden
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Content: There are zombies (duh), violence, and several deaths. It’s in the Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

This book is nominally set in the world of the Walking Dead (which I haven’t seen for Reasons), but all you have to know is that there are zombies all over, and non-zombies are rare. Clementine is traveling through the land, looking for… something… She finds an Amish community and then goes off with Amos who has started his rumspringa. They head north and end up in Vermont, on the top of a mountain, with three other girls. Trying to build buildings. In the winter. In Vermont. Of course, it goes badly.

I wanted to like this more than I actually did. Zombie stories can be pretty cool, but I don’t think that Walden did much that was new or interesting with the zombie threat. I did like Clementine and her fierce will to live – at one point she has someone cut off her bitten leg so she won’t be infected. But mostly, it was forgettable (and a bit implausible) for me.

перемога (Victory): Victory for Ukraine
by Tokyopop (there are a lot of writers and illustrators)
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Review copy provided by the publisher.
Content: It’s war, so there is violence. It’s in the Graphic Novel section.

Written in the early days of the Russian invasion, this book is a series of short stories about how (and why) Ukraine will prevail against the Russian invading force. There is really no through plotline, but rather a bunch of different writers/artists being “Yay Ukraine!” and “Boo Russia!” In one story, there is a Ukrainian witch who defeats the Russians (every Ukrainian woman is fierce, and every second one is a witch!). And another story about Russians looting Ukrainian homes to send home state-of-the-art technology to their dirt hovels. And more stories about the sacrifice the Ukrainians are making and about how evil the Russians are.

There’s not a whole lot else to say about this one. In the end, I took it for what it was: War propaganda at its most.

Magical Boy
by The Kao
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Content: There is some cartoon violence. It’s in the Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

Max is a trans boy and all he wants to do is figure high school out. The problem is that his parents – especially his mom – aren’t accepting of his being trans. Plus there are bullies at school who think that Max and his best friend, Jen, are an item (which makes them gay, if they don’t accept Max’s trans-ness) and make a big deal about it. It also doesn’t help that Max is part of a long line of magic girls who fight evil for this Goddess. What does one do if they’re supposed to be a magic GIRL if they are a BOY?

I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. It’s got a manga vibe to it, and I liked how inclusive it was. But, it just didn’t do much else for me. I think Welcome to St. Hell addressed the awkwardness and anxiety over gender dysphoria better, and even though this had a super-hero/chosen one element, it didn’t land for me. And it’s a volume 1? I’m not entirely sure where else this story has to go. Not bad, but not my favorite, either.

Unretouchable
by Sofia Szamosi
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Review copy provided by the publisher.
Content: There is mention of body image and eating disorders. It’s in the Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

Olivia is a recent high school graduate living in New York City with her mom, who works at a high-profile golf magazine. She wants to go to an art school, and her mom sets up an internship with a digital-imaging specialist at Fash, the top fashion magazine. Olivia is excited to learn more about how art can be used commercially, but then she actually gets into it. She learns that pretty much any image that is published has been retouched: every model is made thinner, perfect, and flawless. And it’s not just the fashion industry: digitally altering/retouching images is everywhere. Olivia even learns that one of her favorite influencers is a digital construct. It makes her question everything: the purpose of art, the prevalence of digital images, and what she wants to be when she grows up.

I really liked this one. The art is reminiscent of Persepolis, done all in black and white and with angular lines. But I really liked the exploration of body image and our perceptions of our bodies and how media/industry uses that against us. it was fascinating and important and just a good story of a girl figuring (some) things out.

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands
by Kate Beaton
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Review copy provided by the publisher.
Content: There is swearing, including many f-bombs. There are also instances of sexual harassment, abuse, and rape. It’s in the Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

After college, saddled with debt and no lucrative job prospects, Beaton decides to head out west to Alberta to work for the companies that mine the oil sands. It’s hard work – though she mostly works in the tool shed and the offices – in camps with very little time off. The workforce is mostly male; Beaton comes across very few women in the two years that she works out there. She puts up with a lot: harassment from the men, being hit on, being put down. She is even raped (twice? I think?). But, it pays well, and by the end of the two years, she is completely debt-free.

This was a hard one to read. The oil sands are a hard place, and Beaton doesn’t shy away from the difficult things that happened. She is open about the harassment, but also not harsh on the men; there’s a panel where she explains that she understands that the men are far away from their families and have needs. I don’t think she’s excusing their behavior, just that things are different out there. I’m still not quite sure if I liked it, though. I do think it’s important – look at the things that capitalism and patriarchy have wrought – but it’s not one I’m going to read over and over again. Still: quite good.

Captain America: The Ghost Army

by Alan Gratz, illustrated by Brent Schoonover
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Publication date: January 3, 2023
Review copy provided by the publisher
Content: There is violence depicted, but not terribly graphically It’s in the middle grade graphic novel section of the bookstore.

Captain America and Bucky are in the field in the middle of World War II when they encounter something they’ve never seen before: Ghost Nazis. They defend themselves against some Nazis, later coming back as indestructible ghosts. The source of this turns out to be a magician that’s trying to prove something to his grandfather and (dead) father. It happens to be just outside of Romania (yes there was a Dracula joke), and Bucky and Cap find a good Romany family to help them infiltrate the magician’s castle and defeat them.

Give this to either a kid who is a history buff but also wants a bit of action/adventure/magic with it or a kid who is a Captain America fan and won’t mind the history bit. Alan Gratz is known for his middle-grade historical fiction books, and you can tell here that he knows his stuff. It’s jam-packed with tidbits about WWII – mentions of the Japanese internment and the United States “Ghost” Army. It’s got adventure and a small bit of romance. Perfect for lots of kids.

Honestly, though? It’s not for me. I found it kind of pedantic and predictable. And the relationship between Cap and Bucky was kind of weird (i was expecting more Batman/Robin, and it didn’t quite hit). But I can see how certain kids will eat it up.

EMG Graphic Novel Roundup 5

A-Okay
by Jarad Greene
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Content: It’s a very “middle school” book, with crushes and friendship issues. It’s in the middle grade graphic novel section of the bookstore.

Jay is starting 8th grade with a face full of acne. This is a problem, mostly b because he is very self-conscious of his looks, and he thinks that his friends won’t like him anymore. He tried everything, but nothing seemed to work until he goes to a dermatologist and got on a heavy course of medication. The only problem is that it gives him mood swings and makes him sweat a bunch. On top of that, his best friend is more interested in hanging out with his new band members and Jay feels alone. He tries to make new friends, but it doesn’t go terribly well. And one more thing: he’s just not interested in a couple of his classmates the way they are in him.

I liked that this book dealt not only with the way boys feel about their appearance but also with the lack of feelings of attraction to people. I think there are more of these coming out now, normalizing not “liking people”, which I really appreciate. It’s not a really great graphic novel, but it is a good one, and one that I think kids will find valuable.

The Flamingo
by Guojing
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Content: there are very few words, so this works as a beginning chapter book, a picture book, or a graphic novel. It’s in the Middle Grade graphic novel section of the bookstore, but it can definitely go younger.

The simple story of a city girl who goes to visit her grandmother in an unnamed (but presumably Asian) country. They spend days on the beach, and at night, her grandmother telles==s her the story of how she came to have a flamingo wing. It’s a simple story, one that is meant to delight as well as entertain, and when the girl returns home to the city, she draws the flamingo adventure for her grandmother.

There is not much to this book, but man, it was absolutely gorgeous. The art is so so evocative, you can’t help but fall in love with the characters from the girl and her grandmother to the flamingo. It’s absolutely stunning.

Living with Viola
by Rosena Fung
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Content: It talks pretty frankly about anxiety, and implies suicidal thoughts. It’s in the Middle Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

Olivia is a sixth grader, and her parents have transferred her to a new school, one with a better reputation so she can get a better education, which means starting completely over. That’s shared enough, but Livvy has pretty bad anxiety, which she personifies as “Viola” Sometimes Livvy can keep Viola at bay, but often Viola becomes so big that it’s overwhelming. Livvy does make new friends, but there are friendship struggles and struggles with her immigrant parents as well as with her extended family. Overarching it all is Viola, and her insistence that Livvy is just no good.

This is an excellent graphic novel for a couple of reasons. First, it’s great that it shows anxiety as something “other” – it was a little weird to get used to at first, but eventually, I did. I think it’s beneficial because kids will realize that anxiety is not “them” but something outside of their control. At least by themselves. At the end of the book, Livvy goes to see a therapist who gives her some tools to help keep Viola at bay better. The book doesn’t get into medication, but it does provide hope that anxiety isn’t something to be ashamed or afraid of. I liked that Livvy felt like a sixth grader, aught between friends who want to “grow up” and Livvy wanting to carry around her cute plush unicorn. That pretty well sums up sixth grade. I also enjoyed Fug’s exploration of Livvy’s Cantonese heritage, from the microaggressions of kids at school (why does your food smell, why don’t you speak Chinese) to Fung choosing to make every time a character speaks in Cantonese in red. It’s a clever, good, well-drawn graphic novel and I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Button Pusher
by Tyler Page
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Content: There is some domestic violence, as Tyler’s dad has a temper. There are also allusions to swearing (but they are @#!!). It’s in the Middle Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

In this graphic memoir (sort of), Page relates his history of having ADHD during his childhood, and his path to his parents not only getting him diagnosed but also the ups and downs of medication. There is also family drama: Tyler’s dad has an explosive temper and is pretty misogynistic towards Tyler’s mom (and his boys, too, really). Page doesn’t sugarcoat the contention at home, and even recalls the times when his mother had had enough and wanted to leave (but chickened out). There is a lot of “it gets better” in this book as well, as Page is looking back on his childhood.

It’s well-drawn, and I liked that Page spent time trying to explain what ADHD is, and how the brain of a person with ADHD works (and doesn’t work). It may be a bit advanced for kids, but I found it fascinating. And I think the purpose of the book is to not only try and illustrate what a kid with ADHD looks like (though, as Page notes near the end, it’s different for everyone), and to create awareness. I don’t think the problems at home had much to do with the ADHD (except maybe Page’s dad was undiagnosed? I felt like he was bipolar, but that’s me being an armchair doctor), but Page was trying to be as honest as possible about his childhood. A really good graphic novel, though maybe not as much for kids as it is for their caregivers.

Didn’t finish: Besties.

YA Graphic Novel Roundup 4

Hollow
by Shannon Watters, Branden Boyer-White, and Berenice Nelle
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Content: There are some scary moments with a ghost. It’s in the Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

Izzy Crane has recently moved to Sleepy Hollow from San Francisco and she’s getting used to the whole small-town feel of things. She’s kind of made friends with Croc, the class prankster, and she has a crush on Vickie Van Tassell, whose family has a Legacy in this town (and who is not supposed to be doing anything with someone whose last name is Crane!). Then a mysterious substitute shows up at school, and Vicky and Izzy realize that Vicky’s life is in danger due to a centuries-old curse on the family). It’s up to the three high schoolers (with the help of the Headless Horseman) to thwart the curse and save Vicky’s life.

I’m a complete sucker for riffs on classic literature, and this is a smart retelling. I liked Izy’s relationship with both Croc and Vicky and the way they worked together. I liked the Headless Horesmeent, and the knowledge the book had that it was playing on the classic story. It was smart, it was fun, and I loved reading it.

Welcome to St. Hell: My Trans Teen Misadventure
by Lewis Hancox
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Content: There is teen drinking, and some nudity as Hancox tries to describe his gender dysphoria. It’s in the Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

In this graphic memoir, Hancox chronicles his teen years and growing up in a small English community, which they affectionately (or not) dub “St. Hell”. It’s not pleasant growing up: Hancox suffers from intense gender dysphoria and is struggling with his body. He tries everything – from being anorexic to power-lifting – to get rid of what he finds disgusting: his body. As he navigates this, he has friends and family who, while more supportive than not, often make missteps. But then, it was the early 2000s, and no one really knew what they were doing.

The thing I liked best about this memoir was that Hancox inserted himself into the story as well. His present self would go back and interact with characters in the story, from his past self to his parents and friends. He assures his past self that things do eventually turn out, and he asks his parents what they were thinking and why they acted the way they did. it’s not only a good story, it’s a healing one, and not just for the author, I htink. I think – no matter if we are trans or not – we should look at our past selves with compassion; we didn’t alwyas know what was going on and what we were doing, and hindsight is always 20/20. But it’s also a good look into what is ogin on the brain fo someone who is trans, and how (at least for Hancox) that played out.

Crumbs
by Danie Stirling
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Content: The characters are older – say in their late teens or early 20s, so it might not be too interesting to younger readers. It’s in the Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

Ray is a witch, who has her sights on being a Council member. She’s gone to school, and she’s passed her examination to be n intern. Laurie is kind of aimless: he works at his aunt’s bakery, and is trying to be a musician, but keeps flopping at auditions. When they meet, there is an intstant attraction. As they start their relationship, they discover that having magic doesn’t really make relationships easier. They go through the ups and downs of establishing a relationship and communication and balancing that with their own interests and careers.

This was a very sweet graphic novel. I liked the magic system (the cell phones were really cool) ad I liked what Stirling created. I liked the way Ray and Laurie developed their relationship, and how it resolved in the end. It was charming and sweet and cute and fun, all those cozy words. There’s nothing deep here (though it is a good representation of a healthy relationship), but it was delightful to read.

Constantine: Distorted Illusions
by Kami Garcia, illustrated by Isaac Goodhart
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Content: There is underage drinking and demons. It’s in the Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

John Constantine has grown up in London, and his stepfather wants him to go to America and study under a magic master. John wants no such thing, but he does want to get out on his own. So he lies to his parents, heads to Washington, DC to live with a friend of his, and joins a band. He does meet with the magic master and it goes more than badly. But John steals a magic book and he and his friends start dabbling. They unwittingly summon a Greater Deamon which takes possession of Constantine’s friend and creates havoc.

I don’t have much of an attachment to the character of Constantine; I only vaguely know him through Sandman (only the TV show, really), and so I have no idea what Garcia is trying to do with this character. The story wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t really engaging either (there are only so many bad-boy stories you can read). I liked that Constantine’s stepfather was the real parent, being there for his stepson in ways that Constantine’s father wasn’t. I also appreciated that Constatine had a definite growth arc.

I think that those who are interested in the character would be more into this one than I was.

If Anything Happens I Love You
by Will McCormack, Michael Govier, Youngran Nho
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Content: It deals with grief and the trauma of a school shooting. It’s in the Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

An unnamed girl is dead and worrying about her parents’ grief. Her parents have been stuck since the moment they found out she was killed in a school shooting. But, through the magic of – something? – she is able to reconnect with them and remind them of the good things in her/their life before she was so brutally taken away.

I have no idea who this book is for. On the one hand, it shows the absolute grief of parents having their kids untimely taken away from them. It’s a horrible thing, and one I wish we could figure out how to address in this country. But, is it for kids? The girl is 12, but she’s not really a protagonist. Is it for parents who are grieving? Is it for kids who are in school, having to deal with lockdowns and shooter drills? is it to just raise awareness? Also: it’s not really a graphic novel, but more like a picture book for older kids/adults. It wasn’t a bad book, I just have no idea who it’s for.

EMG Graphic Novel Round-up 4

Invisible
by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, illustrated by Gabriela Epstein
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Content: There is some disrespect for elders. A lot of it is in Spanish (it’s translated) and I can see that throwing some non-Spanish speakers off it.

George (Puerto Rican, but doesn’t speak much Spanish) is short his community service hours at his middle school, and won’t finish up if he doesn’t get them. So the principal assigns him to the cafeteria first thing in the mornings with four other Latine students: Sara (who is in America from Mexico because her dad has a job here; speaks English but likes to pretend she doesn’t), Miguel (from the Dominican Republic, speaks a little English), Dayara (she’s Cuban, speaks a little English) and Nico (who is here on his own from Venezuela, speaks no English). Together, they discover a woman and her daughter living in their car just off the school grounds. They decide to help her, and because the lunch lady (who is a white, older woman) gets all upset at them for “stealing” the school’s food, they get in trouble. It doesn’t end badly, even though it could have.

There was so much to like about this one. I loved that the book was mostly in Spanish (it was translated, but I kept trying to see how much I could understand) which makes it quite representative I liked how the Latine students were not all one monolith; at one point they make fun of the principal and others for thinking they were all the same. They’re from different countries; of course, they’re not. I liked the conflict between the newer immigrants and George, who is really Anglicized. And i really liked the story of them helping the unhoused woman find a job and a home. It really was a delight to read.

Anne of West Philly
by Ivy Noelle Weir illustrated by Myisha Haynes
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Content: There’s really nothing It’int eh middle-grade graphic novel section of the bookstore.

If you have read Anne of Gren Gables or seen the show (whichever version you like), then you know the plot of this one. Its only changes are that Anne is a Black foster kid in the system and lives in Philidelphia instead of Prince Edward Island. Otherwise, the book gets the story pretty much beat for beat.

This means it is a pretty cute adaptation of the classic story, updating it with cell phones and robot clubs and making Gilbert and Anne work together to get into an elite high school. Marilla and Matthew are in the story, as is Diana – and the part where Anne gets Diana accidentally drunk). It’s a sweet book because Anne of Green Gables is a sweet story, but it’s a good way to introduce new kids to the story.

Two-Headed Chicken
by Tm Angleberger
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Content: It’s full of silly humor. It’s a bit harder than the Dog Man books but is in the same vein. It’s in the Middle Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

There’s not much of a plot to this one: the Two-headed chicken is being chased by an evil green moose, not just in this reality, but in all realities and dimensions. They have a hat that will switch them through the different multiverses and if they can stop the moose in one, they stop him in all of them.

What this book is: a lot of laughs. I thought it was going to be kind of annoying when I started, but I found myself giggling at the dumb jokes (let’s hear it for the fish with a mustache who is asking about everyone’s feelings, and more importantly: Duckter Whooo) It’s supremely silly in all the best ways. I can see myself handselling this one through the holidays to kids who have either outgrown or finished Dog Man and are looking for something else. It’s got everything: cultural references, multiverses (they’re in right now), and lots and lots of poking fun at everything.

And stick around for the world’s longest knock-knock joke. You won’t regret it.

Batman Robin and Howard
by Jeffrey Brown
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Content: Batman goes missing for a few days and leaves his kid alone, but there’s Alfred, so all’s good. It’s in the Middle Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

Damian Wayne is starting yet another new school. He’s had to leave his most recent school for Reasons. Additionally, his dad (yes, that Bruce Wayne) has sidelined Damian from being Robin. So Damian is forced to make friends at his new school. One of those people is Howard, the school’s smartest, nicest kid, who doesn’t like Damian because he thinks Damian is a show-off (well, Damian is). But then Batman goes missing, and Damian can’t go out and find him on his own. So, he tells Howard who he and his dad are, and enlists Howard’s help in finding Batman.

This is Batman LIte. It’s Batman for the kids who like Batman but can’t read the superhero comics yet. It’s for the people who like their Batman safe and nice, and kind of like the 1960s TV show. Don’t ask too many questions about this Batman or his origin or his kids (Batman had kids?). It’s enjoyable, though, and I liked how Damian and Howard became friends. But it’s not my kind of Batman.

Didn’t finish: Ghoster Heights, Speak Up

YA Graphic Novel Round-up 3

M is for Monster
by Talia Dutton
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Content: It’s raising a body from the dead, and dealing with issues of identity. it’s in the graphic novel section of the bookstore.

M is Maura, Dr. Frances Ai’s sister, brought back to life. On the one hand, M wants to continue living, so she pretends to be Maura. (Dr. Francis is so desperate to get her sister back that if this didn’t work, she would take M apart and try again. For obvious reasons, M doesn’t want that.) On the other hand, M is bad at being Maura; she doesn’t care about science, hates Maura’s clothes, and doesn’t laugh at Francis’s jokes. She wants to explore fashion and sewing, and just be herself.

This is a really clever twist on Frankenstein, looking at the monster’s point of view, and an exploration of identity and what it means to be a “person”. It’s sweet and charming and absolutely delightful.

Piece by Piece
by Priya Huq
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Content: There is a hate crime to start the book, and Islamaphobia, as well as some abusive statements by an adult.

Nisrin is attacked on the way home from school – she was wearing a head covering, part of a Bangladeshi traditional costume. She is told that she needs to go back “where she came from”, and that “her kind” are not welcome. She is injured in the attack. The summer passes, and she can’t leave the house. But when school starts again in the fall, Nisrin decides to wear hijab to school, which doesn’t sit well with her mother and grandparents. They don’t understand her decision, and she has some challenges dealing with it. She does, however, find her tribe, and makes up with her best friend, who she had a falling out with after the attack.

It’s a good story, one that I think needs to be told. I appreciated that Nisrin was Bangladeshi, because isn’t a usual nationality for stories about Islam. However, while I felt it was important, I felt like it was missing something I’m not entirely sure what, but it wasn’t quite,, something. Still, I’m glad that it’s out there.

Himawari House
by Harmony Becker
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Content: There is some smoking and drinking, but the kids are all of age. It’s in the graphic novel section of the bookstore.

Nao was born in Japan but basically is raised in America. She learned to fit in, but she has often wondered what it would be like to find her roots, and go back. So, she takes a year between graduating high school and going to college, and heads to Japan to find out. She moves in to Himawari House and meets Tina – a young woman from Singapore – and Hyejung – a young woman from Korea – who are both learning to find their way in Japan. There are two boys in the house as well, though they are Japanese. The three girls become close friends, ashring in their successes and sadnesses, ads they figoure out who they are and what they want for their future.

Oh, this one was delightful. I loved that Becker captured the challenges and joys of learning to live in a foreign county, and the challenges of being biracial and trying to a way to fit in. Becker gave us the inner lives of all the characters, which was delightful. I also liked that she pulls illustrating styles from manga – there were many frames that strongly reminded me of the manga I’ve read. It was a smart story, compelling, and beautifully drawn. I loved it.

EMG Graphic Novel Round-up 3

Little Monarchs
by Jonathan Case
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Content: There are some intense moments, fights, and possibly leaving people for dead. It’s in the middle grade graphic novel section of the bookstore.

In the near future, a sun sickness has killed off all mammals. What humans are left, have gone underground. But 10-year-old Elvie and her caretaker, Flora get live aboveground because of some medicine that Flora discovered: it comes from the scales off monarch butterfly wings. So they follow the migratory paths of monarchs to harvest and make medicine while Flora tries to make a permanent vaccination. That makes it sound very tame, but this has near death experiences, some pretty awful bad guys, and a lot of tension. There are some light-hearted moments, an it’s all about found family, and it’s full of STEM facts. I do have a slight issue with the author being white and the main character being Black, but that’s a minor one. Overall, it’s a remarkable book.

The Real Riley Mayes
by Rachel Elliott
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Content: It deals with crushes, and there is some bullying and homophobia. It’s in the middle grade graphic novel section of the bookstore.

Riley just wants to be herself: Short hair, androgenous clothes, drawing as much as possilbe. But, her friend that “got” her moved away, and she’s having a hard time making new friends. One of the kids in class teases her for being a gay, calling her names and excluding her from all-girl events. The thing is, Riley’s not even sure she’s gay. She does make a couple of friends, but she’s not sure if they’ll stick especially after she makes smome mistakes. Maybe she’ll figure out this whole being a 5th grader thing out.

This one was super cute! I loved Riley, and her struggles felt like a real 5th grader’s struggles. Making and keeping friends, figuring out who you are, figuring out how to be a friend. it’s all there. I liked the art, and there wa seven some humor in it as well. Really really good.

Apple Crush
by Lucy Knisley
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Content: It deals with crushes. It’s in the middle grade graphic novel section of the bookstore.

Jen is spending the week on her mother’s farm, after he divorce from Jen’s father. She’ getting used to living in the country, and going to school. But her new stepsiste, who visits on weekends, has other plans. One of them is super into boys, and all Jen wants to do is hang out, work on the pumplki patch next door, and draw. It’s a touch line to figure out how to walk.

This is a nice look at the different stages kids are at in middle school. Some are into relationships and “liking” other kids, others not so much. I appreciated the matter of fact way Knisley approaches the suject, and the way she woe a Halloween story in there as well. It’s a cute story and a cute book.

Bunnicula
by James Howe, Andrew Dokin, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin
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Content: There is humorous “horror”, and sometimes scary moments. It’s in the middle grade graphic novel section of the bookstore.

Bunnicula is one of those books I’ve heard a lot about, but have never read. Things I didn’t know: it’s written suppsoedly, by the dog, who is telling the story of the vampire bunny. I didn’t know that the bunny only sucks the juices out of vegetables, turning them white (i had thought maybe it was a real vampre bunny). I didn’t know that it was the cat who goes pretty crazy tyring to prove that the bunny is a vampire. I thought it was scarier than it actually was.

Still, it wa a fun graphic novel and not a bad way to be introduced to this story

Didn’t finish: Sorceline.

YA Graphic Novel Roundup 2

Squire
by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas
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Content: There is violence, including suggestions of genocide. It’s in the graphic novel section of the bookstore.

Aiza dreams of becoming a squire for the knights of the kingdom, even though she is an Ornu, a people that has been conquered and oppressed by the kingdom. It’s her heart’s desire, though, and eventually, her parents let her go. What she finds when she gets there, however, is not what she was expecting. She hides her heritage – Ornu get tattoos on their arms and she hides that — and makes some friends. She fails her first exam, and starts trainging with the caretaker in the camp. But when she and her friends are out on a routine patrol, and they are attacked by Ornu villagers, Aiza needs to decie between her dreams and her people.

Oh, I loved this one so much. I loved that the authors are Jordanian- and Palestinian-American, and while this book isn’t explicitly Muslim, they are pulling on the cultures of the area. I loved that you have a girl who is learning and using her spunk to improve and gain respect from other people. I loved that they deal with prejudice and colonialism and war. It was an engaging story, with great art, and absolutely a joy to read. Don’t pass this one up.

Twelfth Grade Night
by Molly Horton Booth, Stephanie Kate Strohm, and Jamie Green
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Content: It’s super lovey-dovey, but not really anything else. it’s in the graphic novel section of the bookstore.

Vi same to Arden High for a fresh start – she wasn’t really jiving any more with the uniform of the private school anymore, and she needed a chance to be more expressive. Her twin brother, Sebastian, has decided to stay in the private school – which means he’s away at bearing school. Vi finds it all a bit disconcerting to be in school without her twin, but she eventally makes friends. There’s a dance coming up – and (especially if you’re familiar with Twelfth Night) shenanigans enuse.

I am a sucker for a good Shakespeare retelling, and this is a really good Shakespeare retelling. I liked that Vi is leaning toward non-bineary (though she still uses she/her pronouns) and defies the stereotypes of nonbinary characters. But there is a definite LGBTQIA+ element to this, which is a nice touch. I loved the way they set the play in a high school, and it follos the play pretty much beat for beat. I liked the addition of the faeries from A Midummer Night’s dream to the high school, and how it’s just a delight to read. I loved the art, and thought it was all a lot of fun.

Grishaverse: Demon in the Wood
by Leigh Bardugo and Dani Pendergast
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Content There is violence, including suggestions of genocide, and some murder. It’s in the graphic novel section of the bookstore.

While this isn’t the story of how the Darkling became the Darkling, it is a story about the Darkling before he truly came to power, and gives some of the reasons behind what he did that led him down the path to becoming the Darkling. He and his mother are wondering Grisha, and they find a village to shelter them. Aleksander is supposed to keep his powers quiet, especially the fact that he is an amplifier. But things go awry, and he ends up murdering a couple of the villagers.

It’s not a deep story, though it’s an interesting exploration of the “bad guy” as the main character. It’s slight, but the art is beautiful, and it serves as both a good interoduction ot the Grishaverse and a nice addition for someone who has been immersed in the world. Not bad at all.

YA Graphic Novel Roundup 1

Fly by Night
by Tara O’Connor
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Content there is some swearing, and acts of violence (offscreen) against women. It’s in the graphic novel section of the bookstore.

Dee has come home because her twin sister – whom she hasn’t seen in years since their parents split – has one missing. Dee holds out hope that her sister is still alive, but the adults are hopeless. A Cold trail is a cold trail. Additionally, a local corporation wants to chopd won the New Jersey Pinelines and sent an oil ipile line trhough. Are the two event s connected? And wat is that weir creature that Dee has seen in teh woods?

I liked the environmental side of this story, the way the kids stood up against corporate greed, and their blatant disregard for the land. I did feel that the mystery side of the story got resolved too soon and very quickly (although it made sense, in the end). I liked the supernatural elements and the way O’Connor wove them into the story. Really very good.

Pixels of You
by Anath Hirsh and Yuko Ota, illustrated by J. R. Doyle
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Content: There is some swearing, including multiple f-bombs. It’s in the graphic novel section of the bookstore.

In the near future, AI is just a part of everyday life. They are workers, and drivers, and have begun “reproducing”, creating their own offspring. Indira, a human, has an internship at an art gallery, and the person she is supposed to work with is Fawn, a human-facing AI (an AI in a human-like body). They don’t want to work together at first, but the more they work together the stronger their friendship comes.

This one looks at the ideas of art and identity and friendship, all through the lens of the relationship these two young women have. i have to admit that I didn’t love the last panel; I didn’t think it was warranted with the relationship they had built throughout the book. But that said, I really like the world that these authors have created, and think it wa an interesting one to read.

Girl on Fire
by Alicia Keys and Andrew Weiner, illustrated by Brittaney Williams
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Content: there is swearing including f-bombs and violence. It’s in the graphic novel section of the bookstore.

When Lolo Wright is with her brother when is he jumped by police for a crime he didn’t commit, she gets superpowers. She learns how to use those superpowers for good, and to help her friend Rut get away from local gang leader Skin’s influence.

File this one under “important but not good”. I wanted it to be good since it is dealing with important themes of racism and police violence. But, friends, it’s…not. It’s got too much in it, it’s not developed enough, and as much as I wanted to like it, I just didn’t. There are better examples of this story what don’t have a celebrity’s name on it. I’m going to go find one of them.

Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novel Round Up 1

I thought about giving each one of these their own post, but then I realized that’s a lot of posts, and its just easier for me to lump them together as I finish them. I’ll try and do two a week – one for EMG and one for YA graphic novels. Enjoy!

Ride On
by Faith Erin Hicks
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Content: There is some bullying by older siblings It’s in the Middle Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

Victoria has left her old riding stable, primarily because of a falling out with her best friend over competing (Victoria has lost her taste for it, and her friend wants to keep leveling up), so she moved to Edgewood stables. There she meets Norrie, Sam, and Hazel. At first, she shuns their friendship, thinking that she just wants to focus on the horses and riding, but over time she learns that friendship is important too.

I am not a horse girl. I never really was a horse girl, and I’m not sure I understand the appeal. But, I loved this graphic novel. I loved that it focused on friendship and connecting with the horses, rather than the competition aspect of it. I loved that there was a diverse cast, even though I’m pretty sure the sport is pretty white. I loved that there was a way for the kids t earn their riding lessons and that they, for the most part, weren’t kids of rich parents. It made it so much more accessible. And I loved that friendship was at the heart of it all. A good book for horse girls, sure, but one for anyone who likes friendship stories.

Twin Cities
by Jose Pimienta
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Content: There is a character that smokes weed and tires to get one of our main characters to sell it. It’s in the middle grade graphic novel section of the bookstore.

Teresa and Fernando are twins growing up in Mexicali, just south of the US border. They have done everything together, but in 7th grade, Teresa decides to go to school on the US side, and Fernando decides to stay in Mexico. Their closeness is tested as Teresa finds new friends, and Fernando feels left behind. He eventually makes a new friend who is strongly pro-Mexico, but also is a negative influence on Fernando. The challenge is for the twins to stay close as the stresses mount, and they grapple with their priorities and their relationship with each other.

I thought this one had some pretty heavy material for an EMG graphic novel. It almost felt YA in spots; no romance, but that Alex was doing andpushing weed on Fernando was a bit of a red flag for me or this age gropu. That said, I did like the issues that Pimeienta brought up. That of belonging, of friendship, of family, and of creaign your own place. I liekd the lookat Mexican culture from a Lantins writer and appreciated the nuanced way they looked at life on the border.

Red Scare
by Liam Francis Walsh
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Content: There is bullying by other children, some pretty intimidating FBI agents, and a pretty intense chase scene at the end. It’s in the Middle grade graphic novel section of the bookstore.

It’s the 1950s and Peggy has polio. Which is not just painful, it makes her a target of bullying. Even her own brother doesn’t want to spend time with her: she’s too slow, she’s too much of a hassle. Then, one day, she finds a red glowy thing (as a man dies in a hotel room that she’s hiding in) which gives her something she never had: freedom. She can fly, she is fast. The problem? The FBI is after her because of the red glowy thing, and they don’t want it to fall into the hands of the “commies”.

This one, I thin tried to do too much. communist scare, aliens, FBI, Korean war vets, poilo… its like if it was in the 1950s, it ended up in this book. And while I get that history needs to be told, it just felt like a LOT. The adults in the book were all pretty horrific and while I liked the idea of a kid finding a magical red thingy, it also felt ablist – like Peggy wasnt a whole human being until she had a super power and was no longer on crutches. Just not at all my jam.

Did not finish: Paws: Gabby Gets It Together