Tag Archives: Graphic Novel

One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale

One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale. March 14, 2017. Amulet Books, 127 p. ISBN: 9781419721281.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.4.

The aliens have arrived. And they’re hungry for electricity. In the Earth of the future, humans are on the run from an alien force—giant blobs who suck up electrical devices wherever they can find them. Strata and her family are part of a caravan of digital rescuers, hoping to keep the memory of civilization alive by saving electronics wherever they can. Many humans have reverted to a pre-electrical age, and others have taken advantage of the invasion to become dangerous bandits and outlaws. When Strata and her brother are separated from the caravan, they must rely on a particularly beautiful and rare robot pony to escape the outlaws and aliens—and defeat the invaders once and for all.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War; Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Grades 3-6. On a ravaged future earth, technology-hungry aliens called pipers scour the planet for salvage, leaving behind a landscape riddled with spherical gouges, as if earth was suddenly Swiss cheese. One cadre of humans is trying to preserve the earth’s culture by scavenging for any remaining technology, but it’s dangerous work, especially when three kids—Strata, Auger, and Inby—stumble on a hidden cavern packed with untouched robots, including a beautiful mechanical horse. Strata’s determined to bring the horse back to their caravan, but their discovery catches the attention of a horde of pipers, and their journey home gets a lot more complicated. Hale imbues his latest with pathos, action, and perfectly timed moments of comedy, but it’s the imaginative landscape, spot-on visual pacing, and confident line work that make this adventure tale really zing. The pipers are a particular treat—they’re elaborate, insectoid creatures with menacing, globular features and pendulous tendrils, ready to grab and annihilate anything they touch. Though it’s over a bit too neatly, the suspenseful chase plot and lively characters will entrance plenty of readers.

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2017)
In the future, the extraterrestrial Pipers devour electrical devices while threatening human lives and forcing them to regress to pre-electrical technology. Strata, her brother, Auger, and his wisecracking friend, Inby, find a sleeping robot pony named Kleidi buried in sand one day while exploring some ruins. Waking Kleidi, however, triggers activity and attracts numerous unwanted encounters with the Pipers, huge and terrifying tentacled beings; fleeing, they become lost. While on the run, the group meets a young woman, Pick, from a different tribe, which is hiding from “ferals,” or bandits and outlaws. Together they go on a quest in search of the Caravan—the trio’s mobile home, which houses the remaining digital archives: robots, literature, music, movies, along with all memory of previous human civilizations. Serving as a leitmotif throughout the story is the tale of the “Pied Piper of Hamelin”: the children, in this future, are represented by technology; as Pick explains, “they are stealing our future.” Hale generously offers texture and intricate details in his panels—often zooming in and out and back in—while offering balance with illustrations rendered in black, white, and gray with yellow accents. In this future, humans are divided into clans but do not maintain present-day racial distinctions; all the main characters appear to be children of color. Hale blends adventure, aliens, an apocalyptic future, and folklore into an easy-to-read stand-alone. (Graphic science fiction. 8-12)

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

One Trick Pony on Amazon

One Trick Pony on Goodreads

One Trick Pony on JLG

One Trick Pony Publisher Page

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui. March 7, 2017. Abrams Books, 336 p. ISBN: 9781419718779.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 600.

An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui.

This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.

In what Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Racial taunts; War; Violence; Realistic depiction of childbirth; Stillbirth; Child abuse

 

Reviews

Library Journal – web only (January 27, 2017)
[DEBUT] With her debut graphic memoir, Bui captivates readers with her recounting of the struggle her family faced as they emigrated from Vietnam to the United States after the war, leaving behind their way of life. Now, as a new mother, Bui starts to contemplate her parents’ lives and what events led them to their current situation. The narrative then rewinds to the author’s childhood in California and her desire to understand why her parents fled their home in the Seventies. Spanning her own experience as well as that of her parents in the French-occupied and ultimately war-torn country, this oral retelling takes readers down the path of three generations, presenting a firsthand glimpse into the history of Vietnam. Uncovering deeper insight into her heritage, which resonates for her as an adult, Bui creates a seamless transition between past and present, making for an accessible read, along with beautiful artwork that draws us in with every panel. Verdict Be prepared to take your heart on an emotional roller-coaster journey with this thought-provoking account that completely satisfies as the story comes full circle. Highly recommended for teens and adults; an excellent choice for book clubs.-Laura McKinley, Huntington P.L., NY

Publishers Weekly (December 5, 2016)
Tracing her family’s journey to the United States and their sometimes-uneasy adaptation to American life, Bui’s magnificent memoir is not unique in its overall shape, but its details are: a bit of blood sausage in a time of famine, a chilly apartment, a father’s sandals contrasted with his son’s professional shoes. The story opens with the birth of Bui’s son in New York City, and then goes back to Vietnam to trace the many births and stillbirths of her parents, and their eventual boat journey to the U.S. In excavating her family’s trauma through these brief, luminous glimpses, Bui transmutes the base metal of war and struggle into gold. She does not spare her loved ones criticism or linger needlessly on their flaws. Likewise she refuses to flatten the twists and turns of their histories into neat, linear narratives. She embraces the whole of it: the misery of the Vietnam War, the alien land of America, and the liminal space she occupies, as the child with so much on her shoulders. In this mélange of comedy and tragedy, family love and brokenness, she finds beauty. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Thi Bui was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States as a child. She studied art and law and thought about becoming a civil rights lawyer, but became a public school teacher instead. Bui lives in Berkeley, California, with her son, her husband, and her mother. The Best We Could Do is her debut graphic novel.

Her website is www.thibui.com.

Around the Web

The Best We Could Do on Amazon

The Best We Could Do on Goodreads

The Best We Could Do on JLG

The Best We Could Do Publisher Page

Secrets & Sequences by Gene Luen Yang

Secrets & Sequences by Gene Luen Yang. March 7, 2017. First Second, 112 p. ISBN: 978162676185.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.0.

Stately Academy is no ordinary school: it was once home to an elite institute where teachers, students, and robots worked together to unravel the mysteries of coding. Hopper, Eni, and Josh won’t rest until they’ve learned the whole story, but they aren’t the only ones interested in the school’s past. Principal Dean is hot on their trail, demanding that the coders turn over their most powerful robot. Dean may be a creep, but he’s nothing compared to the guy who’s really in charge: a green-skinned coding genius named Professor One-Zero.

Sequel to: Paths & Portals

Part of Series: Secret Coders (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Coding Lessons

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (January 1, 2017)
The series’ overarching plot ramps up in the third entry of the Secret Coders series.With Professor Bee still stuck at the mercy of the villainous Principal Dean and his rugby goons in the cliffhanger that ended Paths and Portals (2016), friends Hopper (mixed race, Chinese/white), Eni (black), and Josh (light-skinned but racially ambiguous) must first program their way out of danger. After that situation is resolved, Hopper receives a warning that the principal is quite evil and that Hopper’s mom might be in danger—but their mother-daughter communication still falters. Bee gives more coding lessons and also teaches the kids about his first students, among whom were Hopper’s missing father and Pascal, a brilliant pupil who ended up building an army of robots for world domination. Although Bee, Hopper’s father, and their team stopped him, Bee now worries that Pascal is back. Soon enough, Dean has Hopper’s mom at gunpoint to force the coders to find a flying turtle that takes them right into the lair of a villain far worse than Dean. The coding principles focused on—parameters and Ifelse (if else) statements—are well-explained and -illustrated, which is necessary for readers to follow along with the characters’ actions. The cliffhanger puzzle is an especially snazzy way to end this outing. Nearly every element (especially the bad guys) escalates wildly and successfully in this nifty comp-sci romp. (Graphic science fiction. 8-14)

About the Author

Gene Luen Yang is currently serving as the Library of Congress’ fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. His 2006 book American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Award. It also won an Eisner Award. His 2013 two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints was nominated for the National Book Award and won the LA Times Book Prize. Gene currently writes Dark Horse Comics’ Avatar: The Last Airbender series and DC Comics’ Superman. Secret Coders, his middle-grade graphic novel series with cartoonist Mike Holmes, teaches kids the basics of computer programming.

He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his lovely wife and children and teaches at a Roman Catholic high school.

His website is http://geneyang.com.

Teacher Resources

Secret Coders Downloadable Activities

Around the Web

Secrets & Sequences on Amazon

Secrets & Sequences on Goodreads

Secrets & Sequences on JLG

Secrets & Sequences Publisher Page

Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’ by Miles Hyman

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation by Miles Hyman. October 25, 2016. Hill and Wang, 160 p. ISBN: 9780809066490.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 560.

The classic short story–now in full color

Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” continues to thrill and unsettle readers nearly seven decades after it was first published. By turns puzzling and harrowing, “The Lottery” raises troubling questions about conformity, tradition, and the ritualized violence that may haunt even the most bucolic, peaceful village.

This graphic adaptation by Jackson’s grandson Miles Hyman allows readers to experience “The Lottery” as never before, or to discover it anew. He has crafted an eerie vision of the hamlet where the tale unfolds and the unforgettable ritual its inhabitants set into motion. Hyman’s full-color, meticulously detailed panels create a noirish atmosphere that adds a new dimension of dread to the original story.

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation stands as a tribute to Jackson, and reenvisions her iconic story as a striking visual narrative.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; depiction of nudity

 

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 4))
Grades 9-12. Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” gets graphic treatment by the author’s grandson in this adaptation of her most well-known work. Using an effective combination of striking visual images and pithy snippets of dialogue, the story, about an annual ritual of sacrifice in a small town and the dangers of blindly following tradition, is distilled to its brutal core. The story is well served by the bold illustrations—intensely saturated color work seems at first incongruous with iconic images that hearken back to the mid-twentieth century, but it lends intensity to the panels. Hyman has a keen eye for composition and creates strong visual interest with unusual angles, using a variety of panel sizes and perspectives to pull the reader in as the scenes unfold from different viewpoints. Lonesome street scenes and empty fields only heighten the sense of isolation and unease delivered by the text, and deliberate visual pacing during a pivotal scene focuses all the reader’s attention on the drama swiftly unfolding. One of the strongest graphic adaptations of a classic work to come along in some time.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 1, 2016)
A stunning graphic adaptation of a chilling classic. Hyman, grandson of Shirley Jackson, original author of “The Lottery,” offers his interpretation of her iconic story. In it, townspeople gather to partake in a disturbing tradition—the origins of and reasons for which we are not told. There is mention of bigger towns, where the lottery takes two days, and talk of other, radical towns where the lottery has been eliminated altogether. To follow their lead would mean regressing to living in caves and “eating stewed chickweed and acorns.” Each head of family must draw from an heirloom box a slip of paper. He who draws the slip with the black, circular mark is chosen; his family must draw again. The member of his family who draws the marked slip will be stoned, presumably to death, by the rest of the town, including the remaining family members. Hyman’s illustrations are powerful: rich and evocative graphic realism, softly colored, marrying Rockwell-ian and American Gothic style. The tone, at first, is both ominous and mundane. As the townspeople gather in the June sun, they banter with familiar ease—“Wouldn’t have me leave m’dishes in the sink, now, would you, Joe?”—but beneath the banal, the mood is decidedly baleful. When the black spot is drawn, the mood, along with the color scheme, shifts dramatically: both are immediately drained of the bucolic and sonorous. The rest of the story is starkly depicted in black, white, and harvest orange. The most unnerving illustration depicts a small boy taking up a fistful of child-sized rocks to aim at his pleading mother.A haunting story of humanity’s herd mentality, brilliantly rendered.

About the Author

A Vermont native, artist and author Miles Hyman currently lives in Paris. His prize-winning adaptation, with screenwriters Matz and David Fincher, of James Ellroy’s novel “The Black Dahlia” appeared to rave reviews in 2013. Upcoming publications include his authorized graphic adaptation of his grandmother Shirley Jackson’s thrilling masterpiece, “The Lottery” (Hill and Wang, October 2016).

Her website is www.mileshyman.com.

Teacher Resources

The Lottery Lesson Plans

Around the Web

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” on Amazon

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” on Goodreads

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” on JLG

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” Publisher Page

Artemis by George O’Connor

Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt by George O’Connor. January 31, 2017. First Second, 80p. ISBN: 9781626720152.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.0.

From high atop Olympus, the nine Muses, or Mousai, recount the story of the powerful and quick-tempered Apollo, the Brilliant One. Born of a she-wolf and Zeus, King of Gods, Apollo is destined fro the greatest of victories and most devastating of failures as his temper, privilege, and pride take him into battle with a serpent, in pursuit of a beautiful but unattainable nymph, and into deadly competition with his beloved. Watch closely as Apollo navigates the tumultuous world in which he lives. Will he rise above the rest and fulfill his destiny as the son of Zeus, or will he falter, consumed by his flaws, and destroy all that he touches?

Part of Series: The Olympians (Book 9)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Mild sexual themes

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2016)
O’Connor offers a portrait of the Wild Goddess of the Hunt as probably the last of the Olympians you’d want to cross.Born without labor pains (unlike her twin brother, Apollo) and a picture of gap-toothed charm as a child, Artemis grows into a lissome young white hunter with a ferocious glare beneath blonde bangs and a short way with all who offend her. Acteon learns this when he spots her bathing and is transformed into a deer to be torn apart by his own hounds, as does Queen Niobe of Thebes after she sets herself up as a replacement for the twins’ mother and sees all 14 of her children slaughtered. To keep temptation at bay and her sworn virginity intact, Artemis ultimately even has an arrow for her soul mate, the peerless hunter Orion—himself born, so the tale goes, from a bearskin on which Zeus, Poseidon, and Hermes “all, uh, micturated” (“Fun with words, kids,” O’Connor comments in an endnote). He is portrayed here as a brown-skinned  hunk with a herculean physique. Though the Olympians here are, by and large, a pale lot, groups of humans and demigods display some variation in hue. Artemis and Atalanta in particular show rather a lot of skin, but artful hand placement and angles of view keep things PG. Admire her—from a distance—and don’t dis her or her mom. (notes, character profiles, discussion questions, reading lists) (Graphic mythology. 8-14)

School Library Journal (January 1, 2017)
Gr 4-8-With the latest in his series of books focused on the Greek deities, O’Connor brings to life the goddess of the hunt. Various individuals share anecdotes, weaving a nuanced portrait of Artemis: formidable, quick-witted, occasionally cruel, yet always deeply devoted to the natural world and intensely protective of women and girls. The images are dynamic, with the use of different perspectives creating drama and suspense. Blonde, blue-eyed Artemis is illustrated with cool tones, befitting her characterization. Complementing the visuals, the writing is exciting yet lyrical, evoking the poetry of the original legends. Some stories contain violence, and there is brief nudity but nothing explicit (in one scene, the hunter Actaeon spies the goddess bathing naked and as punishment is transformed into a stag and devoured by his own dogs). The back matter is particularly noteworthy: in “Greek Notes,” O’Connor provides insightful-and witty-commentary, and his bibliography will intrigue readers curious about the source material. Though the author is true to the original tales (never shying away from their less savory elements), he injects a feminist perspective, emphasizing Artemis’s strong relationships with other women and, in “Greek Notes,” referring to Actaeon as a “creepy peeping Tom.” VERDICT An excellent addition to graphic novel and Greek mythology collections.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

About the Author

George O’Connor is the author of several picture books, including the New York Times bestseller Kapow!, Kersplash, and Sally and the Some-thing. JOURNEY INTO MOHAWK COUNTRY was his first graphic novel, a long-held dream that weaves together his passion for history and ongoing research into Native American life. He’s also the author/illustrator of a new picture book, If I Had a Raptor.
He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

His website is http://olympiansrule.com.

Teacher Resources

The Olympians Activities

Around the Web

Artemis on Amazon

Artemis on Goodreads

Artemis on JLG

Artemis Publisher Page

Fish Girl by Donna Jo Napoli

Fish Girl by Donna Jo Napoli; illustrated by David Wiesner. March 7, 2017. Clarion Books, 192 p. ISBN: 9780544815124.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.5; Lexile: 460.

In this graphic novel, a young mermaid, called Fish Girl, living in a boardwalk aquarium has a chance encounter with an ordinary girl. Their growing friendship inspires Fish Girl’s longing for freedom, independence, and a life beyond the aquarium tank.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2017)
Napoli and Wiesner transport readers under the sea, introducing them to a modern-day heroine who longs to be part of their world.In this riveting graphic novel adaptation of the famous Andersen fairy tale, the nameless mermaid character is part of an aquatic exhibit run by a man who plays the part of Neptune the sea god. Napoli and Wiesner use the form’s sparse dialogue to deftly reimagine the fairy tale’s essential elements, from the heartbreaking divide between land and sea to the indomitable heroine who is willing to risk everything to cross that barrier and follow her heart—in this case, catalyzed by her growing friendship with a human girl who visits her regularly in the aquarium. The shrewd interpretation of the tale’s sexual politics is its most striking feature. The mermaid becomes an Everygirl who discovers that her identity and personhood are subordinated to a man whose sinister charm barely conceals his marginalizing view of her as profitable merchandise. Given current events, the image of a falsely benevolent Neptune who systematically chips away at the mermaid’s self-worth feels eerily apt, rendering the mermaid’s desire for a life on land all the more poignant. Wiesner’s artwork aptly conveys the narrative’s tone, but the muted color palette makes his illustrations feel oddly inert. The mermaid, her human friend, and Neptune all have fair skin. A thought-provoking work that is not to be missed. (Graphic fantasy. 10-16)

Publishers Weekly (December 19, 2016)
In Wiesner and Napoli’s unsettling tale of self-discovery, a young mermaid who stars in a boardwalk aquarium show begins to question her circumstances after a human girl offers her friendship. Though she can’t talk and has never been outside, Mira-as her new friend Livia christens her-slowly realizes that the show’s domineering owner, Neptune, may not be as benevolent or godlike as he seems. “The scientists will take you to a lab,” he threatens, warning her against being seen. “They’ll cut you open.” With Livia’s encouragement, help from her fellow sea creatures, and her own extra-human powers, Mira delivers herself from her captor. Napoli (Dark Shimmer) and Wiesner (Mr. Wuffles!) create a plot that crackles, and Wiesner’s graceful, classically proportioned artwork makes the story’s fantastical elements clear and believable. But Neptune’s catalog of classic psychological abuse seems to belong to an edgier tale. Livia’s goofy presence counterbalances the menace (“This is a cheese and lettuce sandwich,” she explains to Mira, holding up a drawing), and Mira’s sidekick-a huge, brooding octopus-offers her the love that Neptune withholds. Ages 10-12. (Mar.)

About the Author

Donna Jo Napoli is both a linguist and a writer of children’s and YA fiction.

Donna Jo has five children. She dreams of moving to the woods and becoming a naturalist. She loves to garden and bake bread.

She lives outside Philadelphia. Her website is www.donnajonapoli.com.

About the Illustrator

During David Wiesner’s formative years, the last images he saw before closing his eyes at night were the books, rockets, elephant heads, clocks, and magnifying glasses that decorated the wallpaper of his room. Perhaps it was this decor which awakened his creativity and gave it the dreamlike, imaginative quality so often found in his work.

As a child growing up in suburban New Jersey, Wiesner re-created his world daily in his imagination. His home and his neighborhood became anything from a faraway planet to a prehistoric jungle. When the everyday play stopped, he would follow his imaginary playmates into the pages of books, wandering among dinosaurs in the World Book Encyclopedia. The images before him generated a love of detail, an admiration for the creative process, and a curiosity about the hand behind the drawings.

David Wiesner has illustrated more than twenty award-winning books for young readers. Two of the picture books he both wrote and illustrated became instant classics when they won the prestigious Caldecott Medal: Tuesday in 1992 and The Three Pigs in 2002. Two of his other titles, Sector 7 and Free Fall, are Caldecott Honor Books.  Flotsam, his most recent work, was a New York Times bestseller and was recently named winner of the 2007 Caldecott Medal, making Wiesner only the second person in the award’s long history to have won three times.

Wiesner lives with his wife and their son and daughter in the Philadelphia area, where he continues to create dreamlike and inventive images for books.

His website is www.davidwiesner.com.

Around the Web

Fish Girl on Amazon

Fish Girl on Goodreads

Fish Girl on JLG

Fish Girl Publisher Page

Apollo by George O’Connor

Apollo: The Brilliant One by George O’Connor. January 26, 2016. First Second, 80p. ISBN: 9781626720152.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.0; Lexile: 800.

From high atop Olympus, the nine Muses, or Mousai, recount the story of the powerful and quick-tempered Apollo, the Brilliant One. Born of a she-wolf and Zeus, King of Gods, Apollo is destined fro the greatest of victories and most devastating of failures as his temper, privilege, and pride take him into battle with a serpent, in pursuit of a beautiful but unattainable nymph, and into deadly competition with his beloved. Watch closely as Apollo navigates the tumultuous world in which he lives. Will he rise above the rest and fulfill his destiny as the son of Zeus, or will he falter, consumed by his flaws, and destroy all that he touches?

Part of Series: The Olympians

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (February 1, 2016 (Online))
Grades 6-9. It’s fitting that the entry in O’Connor’s popular Olympians series focusing on Apollo, god of music, among other things, would be narrated by the nine muses. Each of the seven stories (a few of the muses pair up) matches the style of its teller. For instance, Clio, muse of history, presents the story of the death of Apollo’s son, Asklepios, as a kind of documentary, referring often to “the historical record” while reading from a scroll. Meanwhile, Melpomene and Thalia, muses of tragedy and comedy, respectively, recount the tale of Marsyas, who challenged Apollo’s standing as best musician and met a grim end (or a comical one, depending on who you ask). Since there are so many stories about Apollo, these brief glimpses offer a tidy overview of the god, with an emphasis on his more human qualities. O’Connor’s bright, colorful, clear-lined artwork, particularly of the dancing muses, captures movement and emotion beautifully and adds an engaging undercurrent of comedy. Informative back matter, including further reading and endnotes, closes out this excellent piece of graphic nonfiction.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2015)
O’Connor makes out his latest Olympian as a tragic hero “who has had many loves, but whose loves seldom prosper.” To say the least. No sooner are the frowning lad and his twin sister, Artemis, welcomed to Olympus by their father, Zeus, than Apollo is off to avenge his mother, Leto. He riddles Python, the humongous serpent who had harried Leto at Hera’s instigation, with fiery arrows. He then proceeds himself to harry the virgin nymph Daphne until she is transformed into a laurel, gruesomely flense the satyr Marsyas for claiming to be a better musician, kill his bosom buddy Hyacinth, prince of Sparta, with a misguided discus, and get Artemis to shoot the unfaithful mother of his own not-yet-born son, Asklepios. Finally, he later sees his miraculously rescued son himself killed for creating, as Hades puts it, “a glitch in the system” by healing so many mortals. These and other incidents are narrated, sometimes in Classical meter or rhymed prose, by the nine worshipful Muses–lissome figures who pose and dance gracefully through the panels, then gather at the end to explain why their immortal patron’s unique blend of gifts and faults is profoundly inspirational: “The most divine god is also the most human.” As in previous series entries, the backmatter includes commentary, analysis, reading lists, and discussion questions. Apollo’s darker tendencies overshadow his divine radiance here but, as usual, make better tales. (Olympian family tree) (Graphic mythology. 8-14)

About the Author

George O’Connor is the author of several picture books, including the New York Times bestseller Kapow!, Kersplash, and Sally and the Some-thing. JOURNEY INTO MOHAWK COUNTRY was his first graphic novel, a long-held dream that weaves together his passion for history and ongoing research into Native American life. He’s also the author/illustrator of a new picture book, If I Had a Raptor.
He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

His website is http://olympiansrule.com.

Teacher Resources

The Olympians Activities

Who is Apollo? Lesson Plan

Around the Web

Apollo on Amazon

Apollo on JLG

Apollo on Goodreads

 

The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 2 by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel, Volume 2 by Philip Pullman. September 20 2016. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 80 p. ISBN: 978553535143.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.3; Lexile: 340.

The eagerly awaited second volume in the graphic novel adaptation of Philip Pullman’s international bestseller The Golden Compass.

This second volume of the graphic novel finds Lyra in the far North. With the help of Gyptian fighters, newfound witch allies, and the armored bear Iorek Byrnison, she means to rescue the children held captive by the notorious Gobblers.

The stunning full-color art offers both new and returning readers a chance to experience the story of Lyra, an ordinary girl with an extraordinary role to play in the fates of multiple worlds, in an entirely unique way.

Part of series: His Dark Materials

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Smoking; Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities

 

Reviews

Booklist (August 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 22))
Grades 6-9. In this follow-up to Melchior and Oubrerie’s graphic adaptation of Pullman’s acclaimed fantasy series, Lyra and the Gyptians continue on their journey northward to Bolvangar to rescue the kidnapped children held captive by Mrs. Coulter. Lyra learns she must seek help from a distempered, renegade armored bear, Iorek Byrnison. Lyra also proves her worth to the witch consul, who promise her their help. Soon enough, Lyra, Iorek, and the Gyptians discover that Mrs. Coulter’s scientists at Bolvangar are experimenting with separating children from their daemons, and the process has fatal consequences. This graphic-novel adaptation is crammed with exciting action. The highly detailed, colorful art fills the panels with fine-lined figures, saturated hues, and atmospheric shadows, and while the print and panels are both small, everything is clear and readable. Battle scenes with Iorek, a powerful polar bear, make this volume, which covers the middle third of Pullman’s original novel, a bit more gruesome on occasion than the first installment. Pullman fans and new readers alike will appreciate this well-executed adaptation.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2016)
The second volume of the graphic adaptation of Pullman’s modern classic follows Lyra’s adventures into frozen lands. Hewing faithfully to its source material, this sophomore interpretation trails headstrong Lyra Belaqua and her shape-shifting daemon, Pantaimalon, as they venture into the frozen north to seek out a villainous group that has been abducting children and severing their connections to their daemons. Aided by a mysterious coven of flying witches, a curmudgeonly armored polar bear, and an airship captain, Lyra endures bloody battles and uncovers shocking secrets as she learns the truth behind the kidnappings and mutilations. Dreamy watercolors organized into neatly ordered panels lend themselves well to the fantastical setting, creating a sense of sweeping cinematic scope. Pullman’s original magnum opus is heady and dense, and it may prove challenging for some; this adaptation, with its visual accessibility, can help those struggling with the novel’s complexity achieve an understanding without watering down the intricacies. This being only the second volume of three—and concluding with a cliffhanger—readers can expect a yearlong holdup before reaching the novel’s conclusion. While this may be a bit much to ask, those who have the patience should be pleased with Melchior-Durand and Oubrerie’s interpretation. An engaging adaptation, but some may wish to wait until all three volumes are available. (Graphic fantasy. 11 & up)

About the Author

In 1946, acclaimed author Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England, into a Protestant family. Although his beloved grandfather was an Anglican priest, Pullman became an atheist in his teenage years. He graduated from Exeter College in Oxford with a degree in English, and spent 23 years as a teacher while working on publishing 13 books and numerous short stories. Pullman has received many awards for his literature, including the prestigious Carnegie Medal for exceptional children’s literature in 1996, and the Carnegie of Carnegies in 2006. He is most famous for his “His Dark Materials” trilogy, a series of young adult fantasy novels which feature freethought themes. The novels cast organized religion as the series’ villain. [He wants] to emphasize the simple physical truth of things, the absolute primacy of the material life, rather than the spiritual or the afterlife.” He argues for a “republic of heaven” here on Earth.

His website is www.philip-pullman.com

Teacher Resources

Golden Compass Lesson Plans & Activities

Around the Web

The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel, vol. 2 on Amazon

The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel, vol. 2 on JLG

The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel, vol. 2 on Goodreads

 

How to Survive in the North by Luke Healy

How to Survive in the North by Luke Healy. November 15, 2016. Nobrow Press, 192 p. ISBN: 9781910620069.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.6; Lexile: 230.

With stunning narrative skill, this compelling graphic novel intricately weaves together true-life narratives from 1912, 1926 and a fictional story set in the present day. How To Survive in the North is an unforgettable journey of love and loss, showing the strength it takes to survive in the harshest conditions.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Racial taunts; Discrimination; Strong sexual themes; Alcohol; Starvation

 

Reviews

Booklist (November 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 6))
Three intertwined stories make up comics artist and colorist Healy’s first graphic novel. Two are fact-based narratives of arctic expeditions taking place in the early twentieth century, and the third is the fictional story of a New Hampshire college professor who’s studying the expeditions in the present day. Each arctic-bound exploration experiences insurmountable difficulties, losing men and making castaways of Healy’s real-life heroes on separate trips, Robert Bartlett and Ada Blackjack, in the process. In 2013, Sully’s happy for a distraction. He’s been accused, correctly, of carrying on with a student, and the library is the perfect place to spend his forced sabbatical, focusing on disasters that aren’t his. Healy’s artwork, composed in many small panels, is extremely appealing, clever, and emotive, with different cool, primary-pastel palettes clearly defining each separate story and simplified figures that are quickly identifiable from dress and stature. Centering his story on real people, Healy lights his contemplation of the lure of inhospitable places and the often regrettable decisions they inspire men and women to make from an intriguing angle.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2016)
Two early-20th-century expeditions intertwine with a 21st-century story in Healy’s debut graphic novel.Retellings of the Arctic adventures of Robert Bartlett, a white ship’s captain, and Ada Blackjack, an “Eskimo” seamstress, unspool alongside the present-day midlife crisis of Sully Barnaby, a white university professor who is researching the two figures. In 1913, Capt. Bartlett resignedly sets sail from Nome, Alaska, at the behest of the overzealous (and irresponsible) explorer Vilhjamur Stefansson and a bevy of scientists with their sights set on the Arctic. In 1921, also in Nome, Ada Blackjack agrees to be the seamstress on an expedition to claim an Arctic island for Canada, leaving her ailing son behind, in the hope of earning enough money to get him treatment. And in 2013, Sully’s affair with a male student has been sussed out, and the middle-aged professor reluctantly begins his mandatory sabbatical by exploring Stefansson’s papers and learning about Bartlett’s and Blackjack’s journeys. The novel alternates among the three strands, overlapping people and events, fact and fiction, in an intricate narrative pattern of challenge, crisis, and survival for each of the three protagonists. Healy’s command of visual storytelling coupled with a palette of pastels reminiscent of the northern lights provides the thread of continuity that holds the weave together. Two parts historical, one part invention, a quiet contemplation and celebration of the tenacity of the human spirit. (afterword, author’s note) (Graphic novel. 14 & up)

About the Author

Luke Healy was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. He received an MFA in Cartooning from The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont. His comics work has been published in several anthologies and he has also worked as a coloring assistant with Lucy Knisley on her book Something New.

His website is www.lukewhealy.com.

Teacher Resources

Polar Expeditions Lesson Plan

Polar Exploration Lesson Plans

Around the Web

How to Survive in the North on Amazon

How to Survive in the North on JLG

How to Survive in the North on Goodreads

 

Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Butler

Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Butler. January 10, 2017. Harry N. Abrams, 240 p. ISBN: 9781419709470.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

Octavia E. Butler’s bestselling literary science-fiction masterpiece, Kindred, now in graphic novel format.

More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler’s mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century.

Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.

Held up as an essential work in feminist, science-fiction, and fantasy genres, and a cornerstone of the Afrofuturism movement, there are over 500,000 copies of Kindred in print. The intersectionality of race, history, and the treatment of women addressed within the original work remain critical topics in contemporary dialogue, both in the classroom and in the public sphere.

Frightening, compelling, and richly imagined, Kindred offers an unflinching look at our complicated social history, transformed by the graphic novel format into a visually stunning work for a new generation of readers.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Racial taunts; Discrimination; Violence; Strong sexual themes; Sexual assault

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
The grande dame of sci-fi’s 1979 novel is still widely, deservedly popular, and this graphic adaptation will lure in even more readers. Dana is a 1970s black woman repeatedly and involuntarily whisked back in time to a nineteenth-century plantation, where she becomes embroiled in the lives of the people enslaved there, risking everything by educating their children, even as she forms an uneasy and dangerous relationship with her own white ancestor. This adoring adaptation is dense enough to fully immerse readers in the perspective of a modern woman plunged into the thick of a culture where people are dehumanized by the act of dehumanizing others. It also preserves the vivid characterizations of the time traveler, her husband, and the enslaved people and the slaveholders, making the fantastical device that sets the story in motion a springboard for deeply humane insights. The heavily shaded, thick-lined, and rough-edged art lends a grimness appropriate to a life of jagged brutality and fearful uncertainty. Both a rewarding way to reexperience the tale and an accessible way to discover it.

Publishers Weekly (November 7, 2016)
Dana, an African-American woman in the 1970s, is thrust backward in time to a 19th-century Maryland plantation. Over many visits to the past, she realizes that the spoiled son of the plantation owner is her ancestor, destined to father children with a slave, and she must protect his life to ensure her own existence. Butler’s celebrated 1979 novel, here adapted into a graphic novel, starts with a gripping idea and builds skillfully, as both Dana and her white husband in the present are warped by slavery and become complicit in its evil. This graphic novel recaps the classic source material faithfully without adding much to justify the adaptation, although it may find some new readers. The blocky artwork lacks the subtlety to evoke the complexity of the novel or the vividness of its historical settings (in addition to the antebellum South, the adaptation preserves the 1970s setting of the “present-day” sections). It’s an effective recap, clearly produced with great love and respect, but the book remains the gold standard. (Jan.)

About the Author

Octavia Estelle Butler (1947–2006), often referred to as the “grand dame of science fiction,” was born in Pasadena, California, on June 22, 1947. She received an Associate of Arts degree in 1968 from Pasadena City College, and also attended California State University in Los Angeles and the University of California, Los Angeles. Butler was the first science-fiction writer to win a MacArthur Fellowship (“genius” grant). She won the PEN Lifetime Achievement Award and the Nebula and Hugo Awards, among others.

Her website is www.octaviabutler.org.

Teacher Resources

Kindred Reader’s Guide

Kindred Discussion Questions

Kindred Book Kit

Around the Web

Kindred on Amazon

Kindred on JLG

Kindred on Goodreads