Category Archives: Graphic Novel

Anne Frank’s Diary by Ari Folman

Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation by Ari Folman. October 2, 2018. Pantheon Books, 160 p. ISBN: 9781101871799.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 800.

The only graphic novelization of Anne Frank’s diary that has been authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation and that uses text from the diary–it will introduce a new generation of young readers to this classic of Holocaust literature. 

This adaptation of Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl into a graphic version for a young readership, maintains the integrity and power of the original work. With stunning, expressive illustrations and ample direct quotation from the diary, this edition will expand the readership for this important and lasting work of history and literature.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war, Strong sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 4))
Grades 8-12. Adapting a remarkable primary source like Anne Frank’s diary is no small feat. How do you summarize and visualize such a remarkable document of the Holocaust? As if that weren’t challenge enough, how can you capture the inside of a young girl’s head, her insecurities, dreams, and fears? This graphic novel adaptation takes many risks. The first of many, and its saving grace, is its loyalty to Anne’s own voice. Often witty, ironic, even snarky, Anne’s writing has an acerbic sense of humor. This adaptation is first and foremost a remembrance of that Anne who, despite living a life marred by tragedy, tried by indignities, always held true to herself. Light touches of historical context, woven in through diary entries, provide necessary background without coming across as overly didactic. The whimsical nature of Polonsky’s illustrations, which play upon Anne’s active imagination during her time in hiding, are unexpectedly moving; though we never lose sight of the gravitas of Anne’s story, these forays into fantasy, which show Anne escaping from the harsh present into a future that will never come, serve to remind us of the truly human face of genocide. This is an exceptionally graceful homage to a story that deserves to be told for years to come.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
An illustrated abridgement of the Nazi-era classic.  Anne Frank (1929-1945) as graphic-history heroine? Adapter and composer Folman and illustrator Polonsky (Animation and Illustration/Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design) worked together on the Oscar-nominated, animated documentary Waltz with Bashir. According to Folman, they were approached by the Anne Frank Foundation about adapting the diary into both “an animated film for children” and a graphic novel that would introduce it to a new generation of readers. He then faced a “significant challenge”—to render the whole diary in graphic form might take a decade to complete and some 3,500 pages, while a more manageable “edit” could feature only 5 percent of the original text. Though he opted for the latter course, the abridgment retains the spirit of the whole as the perceptive and increasingly self-aware teenager navigates the usual tensions of adolescence—puberty, romance, family issues—within a nightmarish retreat from the Nazi atrocities intensifying outside their secret hideout. She feels guilty about any everyday cheerfulness she experiences in the face of so much death and destruction, and she succumbs to bouts of depression despite her typical resilience. “Even deep sleep brings no redemption,” she writes. “The dreams still creep in.” Those dreams bring out the best of the illustrations amid the depictions of the everyday confinement in which Anne, her family, and others are hiding. They were captured toward the end of the war, after the end of the diary, when the gas chambers were on the eve of being dismantled. Though she wasn’t aware of her fate, Anne writes with much awareness of not only herself, but a potential readership, with the literary aspirations of someone who feels she has “one outstanding character trait…a great deal of self-knowledge. In everything I do, I can watch myself as if I were a stranger.” A different format distills and renews Frank’s achievement.

About the Author

Ari Folman is an Israeli film director, screenwriter and film score composer.

He witnessed the aftermath of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre as a 19 year old Israeli soldier. This would serve as the basis of Waltz with Bashir. The film follows his attempt to regain his memories of the war through therapy as well as conversations with old friends and other Israelis that were present in Beirut around the time of the massacre.

Since 2006 he has been the head writer of the Hot 3 drama series Parashat Hashavua.

Around the Web

Anne Frank’s Diary on Amazon

Anne Frank’s Diary on Barnes and Noble

Anne Frank’s Diary on Goodreads

Anne Frank’s Diary Publisher Page

Advertisements

Mech Cadet Yu by Greg Pak

Mech Cadet Yu, Vol. 1 by Greg Pak. June 5, 2018. BOOM! Studios, 128 p. ISBN: 9781684151950.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

A young boy gets the opportunity of a lifetime when he bonds with a giant sentient robot and joins the ranks of the illustrious Sky Corps Academy to protect the world from alien threats.
Every year, giant sentient robots from outer space come to Earth and bond forever with a brand new crop of cadets at Sky Corps Academy to help keep the planet safe. But this year, instead of making a connection with a cadet, one of the mechs bonds with Stanford, a young kid working with his Mom as a janitor at Sky Corps. Stanford has the opportunity of a lifetime but he’ll first have to earn the trust of his classmates if he’s to defend the planet from the monstrous Sharg.

From bestselling author Greg Pak (The Hulk, Superman) and fan favorite artist Takeshi Miyazawa (Runaways, Ms. Marvel), Mech Cadet Yu is a heartfelt underdog story set in a bright and bold sci fi world, uncovering the true makings of heroism and friendship in the face of overwhelming odds. This collection includes an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of Mech Cadet Yu, including the comic short story that inspired the series.

Part of series: Mech Cadet Yu (Book #1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

School Library Journal (September 1, 2018)
Gr 5-8-Every year giant robots from outer space come to Earth and bond with cadets at Sky Corps Academy to protect the planet. This year, one of the robots connects with Stanford Yu, a young kid who works with his mom as a janitor at Sky Corps. What follows is an underdog tale in which Stanford plays catch-up with cadet training, attempts to get closer to his classmates and his robot, and eventually faces off with the planet’s greatest threat, the Sharg. Set in the near future in Arizona, the tale strikes the perfect balance between action and drama. The battle sequences are thrilling and the characterization, writing, and dialogue strong. Asterisks note that the conversations between Stanford and his mother are translated from Cantonese. Each chapter ends on a cliff-hanger, and the volume concludes with a great battle won and a war on the horizon. Included in back matter is the original ten-page story that inspired this book, “Los Robos,” first published in Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology in 2012. Superstar duo Pak (“Planet Hulk”; “Batman/Superman”) and Miyazawa, who has illustrated “Runaways” and “Ms. Marvel,” have paired up for a compelling “chosen one” offering with broad appeal. VERDICT A must-have series starter.-Samantha Lumetta, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

About the Author

Greg Pak is an award-winning Korean American comic book writer and filmmaker currently writing “Mech Cadet Yu” for BOOM and “Totally Awesome Hulk” and “Weapon X” for Marvel Comics. Pak wrote the “Princess Who Saved Herself” children’s book and the “Code Monkey Save World” graphic novel based on the songs of Jonathan Coulton and co-wrote (with Fred Van Lente) the acclaimed “Make Comics Like the Pros” how-to book. Pak’s other work includes “Planet Hulk,” “World War Hulk,” “Storm,” “Action Comics,” and “Magneto Testament.”

His website is www.gregpak.com

Around the Web

Mech Cadet Yu on Amazon

Mech Cadet Yu on Barnes and Noble

Mech Cadet Yu on Goodreads

Mech Cadet Yu Publisher Page

Brave Chef Brianna by Sam Sykes

Brave Chef Brianna by Sam Sykes. December 12, 2017. KaBOOM!, 112 p. ISBN: 9781684150502.  Int Lvl: 3-6.

To prove herself as a great chef, a young woman sets up a restaurant as the sole human in a city full of monsters.

Brianna Jakobsson has big cooking dreams, and when her ailing restaurateur father poses a challenge to his only daughter and fifteen sons, she seizes the opportunity. She’s going to have the best restaurant around and earn the family empire. Thing is, the only place she can afford to set up shop is in Monster City. Her menu is full of weird delicacies, her kitchen is run by a half-bird harpy, and her dining room is filled with skeleton businessmen. Add on the nefarious Madame Cron, some highly competitive siblings and Brianna’s plate is literally . . . full.

Brave Chef Brianna from writer Sam Sykes (Munchkin) and artist Selina Espiritu explores one woman’s incredible journey to realize her dreams in the unlikeliest of places. Welcome to Monster City!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities

 

Video Reviews

About the Author

Sam Sykes is the author of Tome Of The Undergates, a vast and sprawling story of adventure, demons, madness and carnage. Suspected by many to be at least tangentially related to most causes of human suffering, Sam Sykes is also a force to be reckoned with beyond literature.

At 25, Sykes is one of the younger authors to have arrived on the stage of literary fantasy. Tome Of The Undergates is his first book, published in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Holland, and Canada. He currently resides in the United States and is probably watching you read this right now.

His website is samsykes.com

Around the Web

Brave Chef Brianna on Amazon

Brave Chef Brianna on Barnes and Noble

Brave Chef Brianna on Goodreads

Brave Chef Brianna Publisher Page

Lafayette! by Nathan Hale

Lafayette! : A Revolutionary Tale by Nathan Hale. October 16, 2018. Amulet Books, 128 p. ISBN: 9781419731488.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.6.

Gilbert du Motier became the Marquis de Lafayette at a young age, but he was not satisfied with the comforts of French nobility—he wanted adventure!

A captain at eighteen and a major general by nineteen, he was eager to prove himself in battle. When he heard about the Revolution going on in America, he went overseas and fought alongside Alexander Hamilton and George Washington for America’s independence. Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales are graphic novels that tell the thrilling, shocking, gruesome, and TRUE stories of American history. Read them all—if you dare!

Part of Series: Hazardous Tales (Book #8)

 

About the Author

Nathan Hale is the New York Times best-selling author/illustrator of the Hazardous Tales series, as well as many picture books including Yellowbelly and Plum go to School, the Twelve Bots of Christmas and The Devil You Know.

He is the illustrator of the Eisner-nominated graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge and its sequel, Calamity Jack. He also illustrated Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody, The Dinosaurs’ Night Before Christmas, Animal House and many others.

His website is www.spacestationnathan.blogspot.com.

Around the Web

Lafayette! on Amazon

Lafayette! on Barnes and Noble

Lafayette! on Goodreads

Lafayette! Publisher Page

Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King by Alex Alice

Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King (Book 2) by Alex Alice. September 4, 2018. First Second, 64 p. ISBN: 9781626724945.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.8.

What if man journeyed into space in 1869, not 1969? In The Moon-King, the second volume in this breath-taking fantasy graphic novel series, Alex Alice draws on Jules Verne and nineteenth-century romanticism to create a watercolor world of adventure and wonder to enchant adults and younger readers alike.

In anticipation of their maiden voyage, Seraphin and the Knights of Aether had prepared for everything―except treason. The villainous chamberlain wants to overthrow King Ludwig and claim the electro-aetheric technology for Prussia. The only escape for the king and his companions lies in the frosty skies above Bavaria.

The aethership’s first flight is asuccess, but their respite is short-lived. As long as the chamberlain is free to spread his lies, these travelers will find no safe harbor. To save the king’s throne, they must push the ship even farther―out of the sky . . . and into the stars!

Sequel to: The Space Race of 1869

Part of Series: Castle in the Stars (Book #2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Underage smoking, Violence

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (July 1, 2018)
Alice knows a lot about the moon, and most of it isn’t true. An entire page of this graphic novel, a French import, is devoted to popular historical theories about the moon, and because the story is set in 1870, all of them are wonderfully archaic. “Everyone knows that giant vultures…live on the moon!” one character explains. Another person mentions a scientist who believed the moon was shaped like an egg. These ideas (inspired by Lucian of Samosata and Eratosthenes, among others) are so charming that when the characters actually land on the moon, a few pages later, it’s a bit of a letdown. The landscape is mostly pale, unvarying mountains and caverns, and even though they’re painted beautifully, the story features page after page of hiking. Occasionally, though, the images are just as gorgeous as in the first volume of the series. When the aeronauts come across an orrery (an enormous model of the planets), it’s breathtaking, and the steampunk designs—like a spacesuit with a bird of prey on its breastplate—are always inventive. The prose is less masterful, at least in this translation, with sentences along the lines of, “An ingenious Regnault & Reiset system absorbed harmful gases and replenished the oxygen.” The skin tones of the cast are also mostly pale and unvarying. Readers who enjoyed the first book may remain invested in the fates of the characters. Other people might prefer to look up archaic stories about the moon. (Graphic steampunk. 10-16)

About the Author

Alex Alice is a French graphic novelist, working in France and sometimes the U.S. His works have been translated into more than fifteen languages.

Born in 1974, he grew up in the south of France and had the chance to travel around Europe, where he developed a lifelong passion for the ruins and castles of the medieval and romantic ages. This experience influenced his art, from the grim setting of his esoteric thriller The Third Testament (co-written with Xavier Dorison and published by Titan Comics) to the primeval, mythic world found in Siegfried, an operatic re-telling of the northern saga of the great dragon slayer (published by Boom Entertainment). In Castle in the Stars, he draws on Jules Verne and nineteenth-century romanticism to create a watercolor world of adventure and wonder to enchant adults and younger readers alike.

His website is www.alexalice.com

Around the Web

The Moon-King on Amazon

The Moon-King on Barnes & Noble

The Moon-King on Goodreads

The Moon-King Publisher Page

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden. October 2, 2018. First Second, 544 p. ISBN: 9781250178145.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

An epic graphic novel about a girl who travels to the ends of the universe to find a long lost love, from acclaimed author Tillie Walden.

Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together. As Mia, the newest member, gets to know her team, the story flashes back to her pivotal year in boarding school, where she fell in love with a mysterious new student. When Mia grows close to her new friends, she reveals her true purpose for joining their ship—to track down her long-lost love.

An inventive world, a breathtaking love story, and stunning art come together in this new work by award-winning artist Tillie Walden.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Violence, Homophobia

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 2))
Grades 8-12. When Mia joins a crew tasked with restoring abandoned space ruins, it’s clear she’s running from something. But between the hard work and the spirited characters of her shipmates, there’s hardly time to dwell on it. Interspersed flashbacks of strong-willed Mia at her all-girls boarding school hint at her troubles—a burgeoning romance with her classmate Grace, sneaking into the gym to (disastrously) try flying a small ship—but it’s not until she and her crewmates get a job restoring an ancient, strange temple that the pieces start coming together. Walden’s (Spinning, 2017) swirling, atmospheric artwork is phenomenal: she plays with darkness and shadows in captivating ways perfectly in keeping with the light-poor space atmosphere, and swathes of luminous, saturated color only emphasize that darkness. There aren’t many planets in the inky black, star-speckled backgrounds, but architectural structures float freely, and they’re set together at weird, surprising angles, unconstrained by gravity. There’s an organic, familiar quality to the spaces, with trees, rock formations, window seats, cathedral ceilings, and messy rooms, but the starry expanses outside every window are a stark reminder of their interstellar location. The sparking interplay between familiar and foreign is utterly mesmerizing, and the story carries that through as well: the sf components are inventive and compellingly strange, but the romance between Mia and Grace, not to mention the warm, teasing affection among Mia’s crewmates, grounds the story in a heartening, recognizable place. A remarkable, stunning comic.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2018)
In this graphic novel/space adventure, a young woman discovers her place in a vast universe. After graduating from an all-girls boarding school, Mia, a light-skinned, black-haired girl, joins a reconstruction crew traveling through space to restore crumbling buildings with ancient and forgotten histories. She carries with her memories of Grace, the girl she fell in love with and lost during her freshman year of school. As Mia develops close bonds with her teammates, she learns they each have mysterious and complicated pasts of their own. Despite their differences, the strength of their love holds them together on a dangerous journey to the farthest reaches of space. A deep color palette of blues and purples with bursts of warm shades captures the setting. Walden’s (Spinning, 2017, etc.) diverse cast of queer characters includes Char, a black woman who co-captains the reconstruction crew with her white wife, Alma; Mia’s past love Grace (a black woman); and Elliot, a white nonbinary person who communicates nonverbally. While Mia’s journey is central, every character experiences a moment of growth over the course of the narrative. The timeline alternates between Mia’s memories depicting the progression of her relationship with Grace and the present. At times both gently romantic and heartbreaking, the story ultimately celebrates love and the importance of chosen family. An affirming love story full of intriguing characters and a suspenseful plot. (Science-fiction graphic novel. 13-adult)

About the Author

Tillie Walden is a cartoonist and illustrator from Austin, Texas. Born in 1996, she is a recent graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies, a comics school in Vermont. Over the course of her time at CCS she published three books with the London based Avery Hill Publishing. She has already received an Eisner Award nomination and two Ignatz Awards for her early works. When she is not drawing comics, Tillie can be found walking and listening to audiobooks or asleep with a cat. She also enjoys studying architecture and tries to incorporate that passion into her comics.

Her website is tilliewalden.com

Around the Web

On a Sunbeam on Amazon

On a Sunbeam on Barnes & Noble

On a Sunbeam on Goodreads

On a Sunbeam Publisher Page

The Flower Kingdom by Gigi D.G.

The Flower Kingdom by Gigi D.G.. October 9, 2018. First Second, 240 p. ISBN: 9781250162953.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.9.

What’s in a name?

In order to defeat the Nightmare Knight, legend dictates that the Dream Sword must be autographed by seven princesses. But things get a bit complicated when our heroes discover that the Flower Kingdom has no royalty! Luckily, the “king” of fashion, Mr. R is on the hunt for the new face of his style empire, and whoever catches his eye will be named… (wait for it…) “Princess R”!

Sequel to: The Melody Kingdom

Part of Series: Cucumber Quest (Book #4)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence

 

About the Author

Gigi D.G. is a comic artist from Southern California who does concept work for animation and video games. She started creating Cucumber Quest in 2011, and it is her first published work. Her website is cucumber.gigididi.com

Around the Web

The Flower Kingdom on Amazon

The Flower Kingdom on Barnes & Noble

The Flower Kingdom on Goodreads

The Flower Kingdom Publisher Page

The Melody Kingdom by Gigi D.G.

The Melody Kingdom by Gigi D.G.. May 29, 2018. First Second, 240 p. ISBN: 9781250159830.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.8; Lexile: 390.

Now with Princess Nautilus as part of their entourage, Cucumber and Almond travel to Trebleopolis to warn Princess Piano that Noisemaster, second of the Nightmare Knight’s minions, might be after her! Unfortunately, they arrive just in time for Queen Cymbal’s birthday and the Queen refuses to stop the festivities . . . that is until Noisemaster succeeds in capturing Princess Piano and threatens to destroy the city.

Adapted from the popular webcomic series of the same name, Gigi D.G.’s Cucumber Quest: The Melody Kingdom is the third book of a clever, adorable, and hilarious four-volume heroic adventure that is sure to make you hungry for sweets and action.

Sequel to: The Ripple Kingdom

Part of Series: Cucumber Quest (Book #3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2018)
In this third series installment, a band of unlikely heroes embarks upon a quest in a magical, musical land.Hailing from the Doughnut Kingdom, rabbit-eared, magic wand–wielding Cucumber and his fierce and feisty sister Almond are on a crusade to save their world from the impending devastation of the Nightmare Knight. Their most recent adventure took them to the Ripple Kingdom, where they met Princess Nautilus and retrieved the Dream Sword, which needs to be signed by six more princesses. Now the gang has ventured to the Melody Kingdom in search of Princess Piano, but soon they discover they must face an array of not-so-nefarious foes: the psychedelic Noisemaster, the Mutemaster, and vainglorious Count Legato. In this adaptation of a former webcomic designed entirely in Photoshop, D.G.’s illustrations utilize an arresting palette of enthralling Day-Glo tones. While each offering recounts a complete quest, the action in this volume seems propelled by a confused silliness rather than intentional plotting, leaving the eventual salvation of the realm feeling like a frustrating impossibility. In each volume, maps of each individual kingdom are provided, but readers may long for a map of the whole realm as well. Those familiar with the offbeat humor of cartoons like Adventure Time will be easy converts and should feel at home in this kooky world. It’s visually engaging as always, but it’s not the strongest offering in the series. (Graphic fantasy. 7-11)

About the Author

Gigi D.G. is a comic artist from Southern California who does concept work for animation and video games. She started creating Cucumber Quest in 2011, and it is her first published work. Her website is cucumber.gigididi.com

Around the Web

The Melody Kingdom on Amazon

The Melody Kingdom on Barnes & Noble

The Melody Kingdom on Goodreads

The Melody Kingdom Publisher Page

The Agony House by Cherie Priest

The Agony House by Cherie Priest. September 25, 2018. Arthur A. Levine Books, 272 p. ISBN: 9780545934299.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have finally returned, wagering the last of their family’s money on fixing up an old, rundown house and converting it to a bed and breakfast.

Nothing seems to work around the place, which doesn’t seem too weird to Denise. The unexplained noises are a little more out of the ordinary, but again, nothing too unusual. But when floors collapse, deadly objects rain down, and she hears creepy voices, it’s clear to Denise that something more sinister lurks hidden here.

Answers may lie in an old comic book Denise finds concealed in the attic: the lost, final project of a famous artist who disappeared in the 1950s. Denise isn’t budging from her new home, so she must unravel the mystery-on the pages and off-if she and her family are to survive…

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
Grades 7-10. Following up on a successful collaboration with Kali Ciesemier in I Am Princess X​ (2016), Priest pairs with O’Connor to neatly weave together the history of comic books and contemporary concerns about gentrification into an eerie ghost story set in a ramshackle house that’s as much a character as the people living in it. Denise, her mom, and her stepdad have just moved into a nearly destroyed, once-beautiful house in New Orleans, and almost right away, Denise starts noticing odd things. First, they’re harmless, if creepy, but later, unexplained, dangerous accidents happen as the family renovates the house. But the comic book manuscript Denise finds carefully hidden in the attic (pages of which appear throughout the novel) is the key to the source of the poltergeists. Meanwhile, Denise’s neighbors are uneasy about outsiders capitalizing on cheap property in New Orleans, and Priest does a great job of skillfully including the important conversations Denise and her family have with their new community. At its heart, though, this is a ghost story, and Priest excels at building palpable atmosphere: Denise’s parents’ anxiety about their shoestring budget, the sweltering New Orleans summer heat, the disrepair of the house (“soggy plaster fell from the studs like wet cake”), and the increasingly terrifying haunting. Dynamic characters and a surprising mystery round out this sharp, satisfying, and engrossingly spooky story.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
A white family’s attempts to renovate a storm-wracked Victorian New Orleans house are complicated by bitterly contending ghosts. The resident spirits aren’t particularly reticent either, readily manifesting not only to 17-year-old Denise and her newlywed mother and stepfather, but to visiting neighbors as well—as a whiff of perfume, creeping shadows, a falling ceiling, and other ominous portents. But rather than being a stereotypical screamer, Denise has much in common (characterwise, at least) with intrepid, gun-toting Lucida Might, girl crime fighter and star of a 1950s manuscript comic Denise finds in the attic. Priest (Brimstone, 2017, etc.) ably weaves contemporary issues and a feminist strand into this fantasy as, while briskly fending off ghostly visitations and searching out clues to the house’s violent past, Denise makes new friends and encounters pushback from some St. Roch neighbors rightfully leery of white gentrifiers. Highlighted by a wonderfully melodramatic climax, the author brings her plotlines to upbeat resolutions with a thrilling discovery, a revelation about the comic’s author, and a degree of general community acceptance of Denise and her family. Nearly every character’s race, white or black, is carefully but unobtrusively specified. O’Connor (The Altered History of Willow Sparks, 2018) inserts multiple pages from the comic and atmospheric stand-alone illustrations all printed in haint blue. Conflicts, ectoplasmic and otherwise, laid to rest in a deliciously creepy setting. (Graphic/novel hybrid ghost fantasy. 11-13)

About the Author

Cherie Priest is the author of I Am Princess X, her debut young adult novel which earned three starred reviews and was a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. She is also the author of more than a dozen adult science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels, including Boneshaker, which won the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.

Her website is www.cheriepriest.com/

Around the Web

The Agony House on Amazon

The Agony House on Barnes & Noble

The Agony House on Goodreads

The Agony House Publisher Page

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol. April 24,  2018. First Second, 256 p. ISBN: 9781626724440.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.2; Lexile: 360.

In Be Prepared, all Vera wants to do is fit in—but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there’s one summer camp in her price range—Russian summer camp.

Vera is sure she’s found the one place she can fit in, but camp is far from what she imagined. And nothing could prepare her for all the “cool girl” drama, endless Russian history lessons, and outhouses straight out of nightmares!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Body humor, Bullying; Sexual harassment

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (April 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 16))
Grades 6-9. Vera feels too Russian for her friends in Albany. She can never quite get the hang of sleepover birthday parties, and she’ll never have expensive toys like they do. So when she hears about a summer camp just for Russian American kids, she’s sure she’s finally found her place. But she’s much younger than her tent-mates, and—impossibly—she’s not Russian enough to fit in. She stumbles over the language, doesn’t know all the songs, and generally can’t quite get a handle on roughing it. But what’s more Russian than suffering? With fantastic pacing and poignant emotional turns, Brosgol’s winsome graphic memoir hilariously captures the lengths kids go to in order to fit in as well as the author’s growth from a girl desperate for a place to belong into someone confident enough to stand up for herself. Brosgol’s pitch-perfect art varies between serene, contemplative snapshot-like images of nature and comedic scenes between Vera—cartoonishly drawn with huge, goggle-eyed glasses—and her friends and campmates, all of whom appear in a relatively realistic style. Even though it’s rendered only in black, white, and olive green, Brosgol’s artwork has immense depth, from the facial expressions and gestures to the spot-on visual gags, and she strikes a perfect balance between heartfelt honesty and uproarious, self-deprecating humor. Perfect for fans of Shannon Hale’s Real Friends (2017), this will easily lodge a place in readers’ hearts, even as it has them rolling in the aisles.

Horn Book Magazine (May/June, 2018)
“This book is a true story. And also made up.” Brosgol’s (Anya’s Ghost, rev. 7/11; Leave Me Alone, rev. 9/16) fictionalized graphic memoir captures the ups and downs (let’s be honest—mostly downs) of a stint at a Russian Orthodox summer camp. Feeling like an outsider at school, Russian American preteen Vera is initially thrilled to attend camp with other Russian kids. Once there, however, she struggles to adjust to the strict rules, lack of modern electricity and plumbing, and drama involving her significantly older tentmates. The story’s visual narrative, exposition, and dialogue are in balance as inky illustrations fill smartly placed panels. The tone is accessible, vulnerable, and hilariously kid-centric (there are plenty of potty references). Angle brackets in the speech bubbles indicate dialogue spoken in Russian, and untranslated words and signs build atmosphere. A monochromatic palette using shades of army green reinforces the natural setting, and a cliffhanger ending leaves the door open for a sequel. Gaps between fiction and reality are clarified in an author’s note, which also includes primary documents: real-life photographs and a letter written by Vera to her mom (“Love, and homesick and crying, Vera. P.S. My stomach hurts every night. It does right now, too”). The story, both culturally specific and universal, is a welcome addition to the growing canon of comics by talented women cartoonists (Raina Telgemeier, Tillie Walden, Zeina Abirached, Cece Bell, and many others) based on their own lives. elisa gall

About the Author

Vera Brosgol was born in Moscow, Russia in 1984 and moved to the United States when she was five. She received a diploma in Classical Animation from Sheridan College, and currently works at Laika Inc. in Portland, Oregon drawing storyboards for feature animation.

She has done illustration work for clients such as Nickelodeon, Sony Computer Entertainment, and Simon & Schuster. Her first graphic novel, Anya’s Ghost, was published in 2011 by First Second Books.

She loves knitting, baking, and trying not to kill her plants. She hopes you are enjoying looking at her drawings!

Her website is verabee.com

Around the Web

Be Prepared on Amazon

Be Prepared on Goodreads

Be Prepared Publisher Page