Tag Archives: Graphic Novel

Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige

Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige. April 2, 2019. DC Ink, 192 p. ISBN: 9781401283391.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Princess Mera is teenage royalty and heir to the throne of Xebel, a penal colony ruled by the other no-so-lost land under the sea, Atlantis. Her father, his court and the entire kingdom are expecting her to marry and introduce a new king. But Mera is destined to wear a different crown….

When the Xebellian military plots to overthrow Atlantis and break free of its oppressive regime, Mera seizes the opportunity to take control over her own destiny by assassinating Arthur Curry–the long-lost prince and heir to the kingdom of Atlantis. But her mission gets sidetracked when Mera and Arthur unexpectedly fall in love. Will Arthur Curry be the king at Mera’s side, or will he die under her blade as she attempts to free her people from persecution?

An astonishing graphic novel that explores duty, love, heroism and freedom, all through the eyes of readers’ favorite undersea royalty.

From New York Times best-selling author Danielle Paige (Dorothy Must Die) and artist Stephen Byrne comes a Mera and Aquaman origin story that explores Mera’s first steps on land, and her first steps as a hero or villain, forcing her to choose to follow her heart or her mission to kill.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Mild sexual themes; Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))
Grades 8-12. Mera is the princess and successor to the throne of Xebel, a nation under the rule of Atlantis. Mera’s mother was a warrior killed in battle, and her father tries to protect her from the same fate. Eager to prove herself, she secretly takes on the task of killing Arthur Curry, unknowing heir of Atlantis, until she realizes she loves him more than she hates his lineage. Mera is a compelling, easy-to-admire character. She readily proves her worthiness as a warrior, and readers will see in her plenty of parallels to Wonder Woman. The forbidden love theme plays out in the contention between the Xebellians and Atlanteans (and, more specifically, Arthur and Mera), which bears more than a passing resemblance to that of the Montagues and Capulets. Mera’s and her family members’ red hair is the focus of the illustrations, since it is the brightest thing in each of Byrne’s muted, bluish-gray panels. What with Aquaman’s introduction in last year’s Justice League movie and his own feature to pique extra interest, this graphic novel is likely to be a hit.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2019)
A feisty undersea princess must choose between love and duty. Bestselling author Paige (The Queen of Oz, 2017, etc.) reinvents Mera, the fierce, fiery-tressed heir to the throne of Xebel, an undersea realm ruled by the Atlanteans. The Xebellians yearn to be free of the Atlantean reign and plot to kill their missing royal heir, Arthur Curry (also known as Aquaman), who has been living among the humans. Singularly focused Mera comes to the surface to murder him but is ultimately touched by his intrinsic kindness. As Xebel and Atlantean tensions crescendo and romantic feelings grow, will Mera be able to slaughter the boy she now loves? Paige has rendered a sassy, take-no-prisoners heroine who may look like Disney’s Ariel but who is imbued with grit and substance. Artist Byrne’s tidy illustrations utilize a spare color palette, with cool gray marine tones save for the dramatic splashes of Mera’s red hair. Arthur and Mera’s backstory in the DC Universe is rather intricate, and while this volume explains it as well as possible, certain details are still a bit hazy. Those turned off by insta-love may want to pass; Mera and Arthur’s relationship and its ensuing tension are easily foreseen. Nearly all main characters are white and straight, however secondary and background characters portray a sampling of different skin tones and orientations. Though a bit convoluted, this mashup puts a fresh spin on a lesser-known superhero. (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Danielle Paige is the New York Times bestselling author of the Dorothy Must Die series, Stealing Snow, and the upcoming Mera book with DC Entertainment. In addition to writing young adult books, she works in the television industry, where she’s received a Writers Guild of America Award and was nominated for several Daytime Emmys. She is a graduate of Columbia University and currently lives in New York City.

Her website is daniellepaigebooks.com.

Around the Web

Mera: Tidebreaker on Amazon

Mera: Tidebreaker on Barnes and Noble

Mera: Tidebreaker on Goodreads

Mera: Tidebreaker on LibraryThing

Mera: Tidebreaker Publisher Page

Advertisements

The Giver (Graphic Novel) by Lois Lowry

The Giver (Graphic Novel) by Lois Lowry. February 5, 2019. HMH Books for Young Readers, 185 p. ISBN: 9780544157880.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

The Giver is a modern classic and one of the most influential books of our time.

Now in graphic novel format, Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal–winning classic story of a young boy discovering the dark secrets behind his seemingly ideal world is accompanied by renowned artist P. Craig Russell’s beautifully haunting illustrations. 

Placed on countless reading lists, translated into more than forty languages, and made into a feature film, The Giver is the first book in The Giver Quartet that also includes Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

In this new graphic novel edition, readers experience the haunting story of twelve-year-old Jonas and his seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment, through the brilliant art of P. Craig Russell that truly brings The Giver to life.

Witness Jonas’s assignment as the Receiver of Memory, watch as he begins to understand the dark secrets behind his fragile community, and follow the explosion of color into his world like never before.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Drugs, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities, Violence

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (March 15, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 14))
Grades 5-8. Color is a potent and central symbol in Lowry’s modern classic. Its absence defines the sameness of Jonas’ future world, in which everyone’s life is neatly prescribed for them, right down to career and family. When Jonas is appointed the receiver of all humanity’s memories, the appearance of color signifies his sense of discovery and, ultimately, his escape. Russell masterfully preserves the flow of story within this world of sameness through clean lines and compositional variation. But he, too, centralizes color. A limited palette of cool blues and somber grays strikes the emotionally sterile tone of Jonas’ community, while humanity’s memories come to the receiver in various hues: the gentle pink of a flower, the saturating red-orange of war. The relief and sometimes shock of these colors allow the power of the memories to reach readers in a way beyond mere sight, and thus the wonder of Lowry’s story is made palpable in a startling new way. Includes illuminating interviews with Lowry and Russell on the adaptation process.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2018)
An eerie graphic version of the Newbery Award–winning classic. Russell (Murder Mysteries and Other Stories, 2015, etc.) pays no more attention than Lowry (Looking Back, 2016, etc.) did to continuity of detail or to justifying the counterintuitive notion that memories can be shed by transmitting them, but without taking significant liberties he skillfully captures the original’s full, creeping horror. By depicting human figures with uncommonly precise realism, bearing calm, smiling demeanors and moving through tidy 1950s style settings, he establishes an almost trite air of utopian normality at the outset…then proceeds to undermine it with disquieting (to say the least) incidents capped by an explicit view of Jonas’ serene dad “releasing” a supernumerary newborn by ramming a hypodermic into its head. He also neatly solves the color issue by composing his many small sequential scenes in blue pencil outlines with occasional pale washes—which makes Jonas’ disturbing ability to “see beyond,” from the red in an apple and a classmate’s hair to the garish orange memories the Giver downloads to his brain, startlingly vivid and presages the polychrome wilderness into which he ultimately vanishes. Jonas and the rest of the cast are uniformly light-skinned and generically European of feature, but that is explicitly established as part of the hideous scenario. A first-rate visual reframing: sensitive, artistically brilliant, and as charged as its enigmatic predecessor with profound challenges to mind and heart. (interviews with the creators) (Graphic dystopian fantasy. 12-14)

About the Author

Lois Lowry is known for her versatility and invention as a writer. She was born in Hawaii and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan. After studying at Brown University, she married, started a family, and turned her attention to writing. She is the author of more than forty books for young adults, including the popular Anastasia Krupnik series. She has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader’s Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels, NUMBER THE STARS and THE GIVER. Her first novel, A SUMMER TO DIE, was awarded the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award. Several books have been adapted to film and stage, and THE GIVER has become an opera. Ms. Lowry now divides her time between Maine and Florida.

Her website is www.loislowry.com/

Teacher Resources

The Giver (Graphic Novel) on Common Sense Media

The Giver (Graphic Novel) Educator’s Guide

Around the Web

The Giver (Graphic Novel) on Amazon

The Giver (Graphic Novel) on Barnes and Noble

The Giver (Graphic Novel) on Goodreads

The Giver (Graphic Novel) Publisher Page

Bloom by Kevin Panetta

Bloom by Kevin Panetta. January 29, 2019. First Second, 368 p. ISBN: 9781250196910.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band―if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.

Writer Kevin Panetta and artist Savanna Ganucheau concoct a delicious recipe of intricately illustrated baking scenes and blushing young love, in which the choices we make can have terrible consequences, but the people who love us can help us grow.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Strong sexual themes

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))
Grades 9-12. Ari is sick of working at his dad’s bakery, and he can’t wait to get out of his dead-end beach town and move to the city with his band. He knows his dad will need help, though, so he tries to at least find a replacement before he leaves forever. Enter Hector, the adorable cooking-school dropout who’s in town cleaning out his late grandma’s house and is absolutely perfect for the job. Over baking, deliveries, and languorous summer fun, Hector and Ari get closer, and Ganucheau’s perfectly languid artwork, rendered in arcing brushstrokes and a minimal palette, beautifully showcases the quiet, everyday moments that draw them together. Her montages of baking are particularly lovely—the panel edges in these scenes transform into soft, organic shapes accented with sentimental flourishes—and it’s clear that she’s paid careful attention to the motions and techniques of making bread and cakes. When disaster strikes and the future of the bakery is called into question, Ari has to face some hard truths about himself. A quiet, earnest romance with warmth and depth.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2018)
Summer love rises between two boys in a bakery. High school may have ended, but Ari is stuck with sourdough starter at his family’s bakery instead of summer gigs in the city with his band. As his family’s money grows tighter, Ari feels tethered in place. His friends start to drift toward their own futures. But the future of their band—and their friendship—drifts toward uncertainty. Under the guise of recruiting another baker to take his place, Ari hires Hector. A culinary student in Birmingham, Hector has temporarily returned home to find closure after his Nana’s passing. The two grow close in more than just the kitchen. Ari, who hates baking, even starts to enjoy himself. But will it all last? Panetta and Ganucheau’s graphic novel debut is as much a love story between people as it is with the act of baking. Ganucheau’s art, in black ink with varying shades of blue, mixes traditional paneling with beautiful double-page spreads of detailed baking scenes, where the panels sometimes take on the shape of braided loaves. The romance between Ari and Hector builds slowly, focusing on cute interactions long before progressing to anything physical. Ari and his family are Greek. Family recipes referenced in the text code Hector as Samoan. Delicious. A tender blend of sugary, buttery, and other complex flavors that’s baked with a tremendous dash of heart. (recipe, production art) (Graphic novel. 13-adult)

About the Authors

Kevin Panetta is a comic book writer. He has worked on books for properties like Steven Universe, Regular Show, Bravest Warriors, and WWE. Kevin came to writing after years dedicated to comics as a reader, retailer, and convention organizer. He lives in Washington, DC, with his cool wife and two cool dogs.

His website is kevinpanetta.com/

Savanna Ganucheau is a comic artist living in Australia, with a BFA in film from the University of New Orleans. In addition to creating the popular webcomic George and Johnny, Savanna’s artwork has appeared in notable publications including Jem and the Holograms, Adventure Time Comics, and Lumberjanes.

Her website is srganuch.carbonmade.com

Around the Web

Bloom on Amazon

Bloom on Barnes and Noble

Bloom on Goodreads

Bloom on LibraryThing

Bloom Publisher Page

New Kid by Jerry Craft

New Kid by Jerry Craft. February 5, 2019. HarperCollins, 256 p. ISBN: 9780062691200.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.6; Lexile:.

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racism

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 6))
Grades 4-7. Don’t let the title fool you. Seventh-grader Jordan Banks may be the new kid at his upper-crust private school, but this remarkably honest and accessible story is not just about being new; it’s unabashedly about race. Example after uncomfortable example hits the mark: casual assumptions about black students’ families and financial status, black students being mistaken for one another, well-intentioned teachers awkwardly stumbling over language, competition over skin tones among the black students themselves. Yet it’s clear that everyone has a burden to bear, from the weird girl to the blond boy who lives in a mansion, and, indeed, Jordan only learns to navigate his new world by not falling back on his own assumptions. Craft’s easy-going art and ingenious use of visual metaphor loosen things up considerably, and excerpts from Jordan’s sketch book provide several funny, poignant, and insightful asides. It helps keep things light and approachable even as Jordan’s parents tussle over the question of what’s best for their son—to follow the world’s harsh rules so he can fit in or try to pave his own difficult road. A few climactic moments of resolution feel a touch too pat, but Craft’s voice rings urgent and empathetic. Speaking up about the unrepresented experience of so many students makes this a necessary book, particularly for this age group. Possibly one of the most important graphic novels of the year.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 1, 2018)
Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity. He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable. An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Jerry Craft has illustrated and/or written nearly three dozen children’s books, graphic novels and middle grade novels for publishers such as HarperCollins, Scholastic, Benchmark, Pearson and his own publishing company, Mama’s Boyz, Inc.

Jerry has earned recognition from the Junior Library Guild, and has won five African American Literary Awards. He is the creator of Mama’s Boyz, an award-winning comic strip that was distributed by King Features Syndicate from 1995 – 2013. He is a co-founder and co-producer of the Schomburg’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival which has drawn close to 40,000 fans since its inception in 2013. Jerry was born in Harlem and grew up in nearby Washington Heights. He is a graduate of The Fieldston School and received his B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts.

His website is jerrycraft.com

Around the Web

New Kid on Amazon

New Kid on Barnes & Noble

New Kid on Goodreads

New Kid on LibraryThing

New Kid Publisher Page

Meal by Blue Delliquanti

Meal by Blue Delliquanti. January 4, 2019. Iron Circus Comics, 150 p. ISBN: 9781945820304.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

“You moved cross-country to work at a bug restaurant. There’s no way I’m gonna miss what happens next.”

Yarrow is a young chef determined to make her mark on the cutting edge of cookery with her insect-based creations. Though her enthusiasm is infectious, it rubs some of her fellow cooks the wrong way, especially Chanda Flores, Yarrow’s personal hero and executive chef of an exciting new restaurant. Her people have been eating bugs for centuries, and she’s deeply suspicious of this newbie’s attempt to turn her traditions into the next foodie trend. While Chanda and her scrappy team of talented devotees struggle to open on time, Yarrow must win over Chanda — and Milani, the neighbor she’s been crushing on for weeks — or lose this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to achieve her dreams.

Co-written with chef and food writer Soleil Ho (Edible Manhattan, Bitch), Blue Delliquanti’s sweet coming-of-age story takes us deep into a world of art, mystery, and memory on the culinary frontier.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: 

 

Reviews

Booklist (July 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 21))
Yarrow has been eating insects, a practice called entomophagy, since she was a kid, and now, as an adult with a culinary degree, she’s eager to bring her personal passion to a professional kitchen. That’s why she moved to Minneapolis, where chef Chanda Flores is opening a restaurant serving bug-focused dishes. But when Yarrow majorly flubs her opportunity by spouting trendy talking points rather than her personal connection to entomophagy, she begs for one more chance to impress the chef. With the help of her cute new neighbor, Milani, she really digs in, learning about the history of entomophagy, the local suppliers, and the reason Chanda is so protective of the practice. Ho and Delliquanti offer smart commentary on cultural appropriation in the food industry and, for the curious, several recipes. Delliquanti’s clear-lined, architectural artwork nicely homes in on particular ingredients, and her character designs feature a broad range of body types and skin tones. Buoyed by a sweet queer romance and snappy banter, this thought-provoking comic is tailor-made for brainy readers fascinated by food.

Publishers Weekly (June 11, 2018)
In this sunny, charming foodie comic, aspiring cook Yarrow moves across America to work at a new restaurant. The twist: it’s dedicated to entomophagy, or insect-eating. A fervent believer in the future of bug cuisine, Yarrow already raises her own mealworms and whips up dishes for herself and her friends: “Fresh batch of mealworms with cinnamon and sugar… and that’s what I call breakfast!” But she has a lot to learn from stern head chef Chanda. Soon the staff is busy working with bee larvae, silkworm pupae, grasshoppers, tarantulas, and cricket flour, while Yarrow shyly pursues a romance with local mural artist Milani. Throughout, the creators drop in knowledge about gourmet cooking, restaurant work, and the history and global culture of edible insects. A manga influence shows in the outsized depictions of Yarrow’s high-energy enthusiasm, but the uncluttered, thickly inked artwork by Delliquanti (Oh Human Star) is very much her own. The diverse cast are simply drawn but the food looks delicious-and, for readers inspired by the lively cooking scenes, recipes are provided in the back. This fresh and tasty comic provides an enticing introduction to a less-traveled area of cuisine.

About the Author

Blue Delliquanti is a cartoonist and illustrator who likes to write about robots, insects, and unconventional families. She is the creator of the online comic O Human Star and the co-creator of the graphic novel Meal with Soleil Ho. Blue lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with a woman and a cat.

Her website is www.bluedelliquanti.com

Around the Web

Meal on Amazon

Meal on Barnes & Noble

Meal on Goodreads

Meal on LibraryThing

Meal Publisher Page

Hephaistos by George O’Connor

Hephaistos: God of Fire by George O’Connor. January 29, 2019. First Second, 80p. ISBN: 9781626725270.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.6.

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 1#1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Mild sexual themes; Violence

 

Series Preview

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

Hephaistos on Amazon

Hephaistos on Barnes & Noble

Hephaistos on Goodreads

Hephaistos on LibraryThing

Hephaistos Publisher Page

Dear Sister by Alison McGhee

Dear Sister by Alison McGhee. October 2, 2018. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 192 p. ISBN: 9781481451420.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.4; Lexile: 560.

What do you do when you have an incredibly annoying little sister? Write her letters telling her so, of course!

Whininess, annoyingness, afraid of the darkness, refusal to eat lima beans, and pulling brother’s hair. This is the criteria on which little sisters are graded. Inspired by the notes Alison McGhee’s own kids would write each other, this heavily illustrated collection of letters and messages from an older brother to his little sister reveal the special love–or, at the very least, tolerance–siblings have for each other.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Talk

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2018 (Online))
Grades 4-7. When an eight-year-old boy gets a baby sister, his true feelings emerge in a series of letters and drawings addressed to her. At first, there’s a lot of antagonism: the narrator draws over-the-top pictures of his sister (“Even though it is not my fault that you look like this, they decided not to put my picture of you in your baby book”), writes her a regular progress report (“whininess: world class”), and sends her birthday cards (“Happy sixth birthday to someone who is still obnoxious”). But 10 years go by, and his attitude gradually softens. The epistolary format is comically complemented by Bluhm’s cartoon drawings, appearing in heavy pencil scrawls in the beginning chapters, and in a more refined hand as the narrator’s drawing skills steadily improve. Glimmers of plot appear, mostly about the boy’s best friend moving away, but more endearing is the slow-but-steady growth of affection. The ending might be a touch schmaltzy for the target audience, but the dry humor and clever format should nevertheless appeal to any kid with a sibling.

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2018)
Over the years, a boy’s letters to his younger sister reveal his changing impressions of her and their relationship in this epistolary graphic novel. For the unnamed 8-year-old boy, life was less complicated before his baby sister was born. Now his parents (aka “the wardens”) ask him to write cards and letters, sometimes with accompanying drawings, to his new sibling. Beginning each note with “Dear Sister,” the boy recounts his life with honesty, expressing his frustration with her incessant crying, having to read her the same book for “the 763rd time,” and his lack of privacy. Mixed in are several apology letters that reveal that the wardens fail to understand his perspective. Only his friend Joe offers diversion. Signing his initial letters “From, Brother,” he informs his sister that he’s holding out on the love part until he’s made up his mind. During a 10-year-period, however, his letters gradually reflect his growing affection for her. When Joe moves away, it’s the sister, who’s always adored her big brother, who understands his pain. And as their friendship and affection grow, perhaps the brother enjoys connecting with—and yes, reading to—his sister after all. While books on sibling rivalry abound, this volume brings freshness to the topic with McGhee’s gentle humor and poignant scenarios (though adults may respond more strongly than kids). Bluhm heightens both with childlike sketches for the brother’s drawings and emotive illustrations for the storyline. Dear indeed for preteens facing big changes and adults with fond memories. (Graphic fiction. 10-13)

About the Author

Alison McGhee writes novels, picture books, poems, and essays for all ages, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Someday, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Her work has been translated into more than 20 languages. She lives in Minneapolis, California and Vermont.

Her website is alisonmcghee.com

Around the Web

Dear Sister on Amazon

Dear Sister on Barnes and Noble

Dear Sister on Goodreads

Dear Sister on LibraryThing

Dear Sister Publisher Page

Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk

Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk. July 31, 2018. Graphix, 272 p. ISBN: 9781338139228.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Lexile: 340.

Sixth grade was SO much easier for Danielle. All her friends were in the same room and she knew what to expect from her life. But now that she’s in seventh grade, she’s in a new middle school, her friends are in different classes and forming new cliques, and she is completely lost.

When Danielle inherits a magical sketchbook from her eccentric great aunt Elma, she draws Madison, an ideal best friend that springs to life right off the page! But even when you create a best friend, it’s not easy navigating the ups and downs of relationships, and before long Danielle and Madison are not exactly seeing eye-to-eye.

To make matters worse, Danielle has drawn the head of her favorite (and totally misunderstood) cartoon villain, Prince Neptune. He’s also come to life and is giving her terrible advice about how to make people like her. When she rejects him and he goes on a rampage during a school pep rally, Danielle and Madison have to set aside their differences to stop him!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Cartoon violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (November 15, 2018 (Online))
Grades 5-8. Dany is an awkward seventh-grader navigating her way through the perilous world of middle school when she stumbles upon her great-aunt’s enchanted sketchbook; suddenly, her talent for drawing gives her the amazing ability to create friends out of thin air. But Dany’s creations start to turn on her; first her perfectly engineered best friend, Madison, begins to search for meaning in her own life. Then Prince Neptune (the disembodied head of the handsome villain of Dany’s favorite show, the Sailor Moon-esque Solar Sisters) plots his evil reign over Connecticut. At once cringeworthy and delightfully absurd, Making Friends, much like middle school itself, is somewhere between teenage cynicism and a childlike mastery of fantasy. Although Gudsnuk’s characters are sometimes suspiciously wise beyond their years, and her stylized visual references perhaps a bit too meta-referential for some younger readers, they will certainly recommend this story to readers for whom middle school is a distant and painful memory. Middle-schoolers, meanwhile, will appreciate Gudsnuk’s light touch in bringing an empathetic, joyful, and judicious treatment to those tough in-between years.

Kirkus Reviews (May 15, 2018)
Making friends is tough in a new school; could a magical notebook be the answer? Seventh grade is not beginning well for Dany; her two besties are not in any of her classes, and not only is she having a tough time making new friends, she is also being bullied. One day, Dany inherits an unusual sketchbook from her recently deceased great-aunt. While sketching her favorite evil prince from the beloved anime Solar Sisters, she discovers that anything she draws in the notebook becomes real. Dany then creates for herself the perfect best friend: Madison Fontaine, a trendy new girl from New York City who is knowledgeable about trends, sassy, and fun. However, Dany soon learns that even if you tailor-make your own BFF, how you treat them still matters. This charming graphic novel features full-color, manga-inspired illustrations and a breezy plot that blends wish fulfillment and fantasy with an approachable and contemporary storyline. With a broad brush, Gudsnuk hits many of the angst-y issues of middle school, including popularity, bullying, family relationships, body image, and fandom, creating appeal for a large swath of readers. Main character Dany is white and seemingly comfortably middle-class, as is her creation, Madison. Secondary characters offer a bit more inclusivity, portraying different races, ethnicities, and orientations. A nifty pastiche of middle school matters. (Graphic fantasy. 7-12)

About the Author

Kristen Gudsnuk is a comics writer and illustrator. She got her start with the webcomic Henchgirl, which was later published by Scout Comics in single issue and Dark Horse Comics as a collection. Her newest works include the middle grade graphic novel Making Friends, from Scholastic Books, and Modern Fantasy, a miniseries from Dark Horse (written by Rafer Roberts). Gudsnuk also illustrated the VIP series by Jen Calonita, published by Little, Brown. Originally from Shelton, CT, she now lives in Queens, NY with her boyfriend and dog.

Her website is kristengudsnuk.com

Around the Web

Making Friends on Amazon

Making Friends on Barnes and Noble

Making Friends on Goodreads

Making Friends on LibraryThing

Making Friends Publisher Page

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. October 9, 2018. Graphix, 320 p. ISBN: 9780545902472.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 510.

A National Book Award Finalist!

In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka’s teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett’s family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett’s life. His father is a mystery — Jarrett doesn’t know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents — two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along.

Jarrett goes through his childhood trying to make his non-normal life as normal as possible, finding a way to express himself through drawing even as so little is being said to him about what’s going on. Only as a teenager can Jarrett begin to piece together the truth of his family, reckoning with his mother and tracking down his father.

Hey, Kiddo is a profoundly important memoir about growing up in a family grappling with addiction, and finding the art that helps you survive.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Homophobic slur, Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Underage drinking, Bullying, Domestic violence, Drugs and drug addiction, Depictions of bloody nightmares, Depiction of an escalator accident

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 2))
Grades 8-12. In this deeply vulnerable, moving graphic memoir, Krosoczka, well known for his popular Lunch Lady series, recounts his sometimes troubled childhood, spent largely with his grandparents; his struggle to maintain a relationship with his heroin-addicted mother; and his gradually developing love for making art and comics. His grandfather officially took custody of Krosoczka when he was not yet five years old, and it wasn’t until much later that his learned about his mother’s heroin addiction and imprisonment. Life with his grandparents—a hard-drinking couple who bickered constantly—wasn’t always easy, but his grandfather was a stalwart supporter of his artistic aspirations, and he slowly realized that the atypical family he ultimately collected (even eventually his father, whom he finally met late in his teen years) could be enough. Krosoczka’s brushy, expressive artwork, incorporating snippets of his childhood drawings and letters, beautifully conveys the difficult circumstances of his upbringing. There’s a tender quality to his graceful line work and muted color palette, which adds to the compassionate way he depicts his family, even when he can’t count on them. A closing author’s note fills in additional backstory and helpful context, including the ultimate, heartbreaking result of his mother’s addiction. There have been a slew of graphic memoirs published for youth in the past couple of years, but the raw, confessional quality and unguarded honesty of Krosoczka’s contribution sets it apart from the crowd.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2018)
Krosoczka offers a graphic memoir that is altogether more mature in style, theme, and content than his previous work for younger audiences (the Lunch Lady series; the Platypus Police Squad series). Raised by his grandparents, Krosoczka recounts the triumphs and tragedies he experienced from infancy through his high-school years. Regularly left in the dark regarding his family—including his father’s identity and mother’s transient whereabouts—Krosoczka eventually learns of his mother’s addiction to heroin and of her habitual incarceration. Other serious hardships—verbal abuse, violent crime, family alcoholism—punctuate Krosoczka’s childhood and adolescence, shifting his interest in art from something to impress his friends to a way “to deal with life. To survive.” Krosoczka’s actual childhood artwork (from early crayon drawings to high-school gag comics) and handwritten letters to and from his mother and others are seamlessly inserted into the gracefully rendered ink illustrations. Applied with a brush pen, the emotive line work fluctuates between thick and thin, while blurred panel edges allow moments to blend into one another. A limited palette of gray and orange washes positions the story in the past, as memory. Krosoczka has meticulously crafted an uncompromisingly honest portrayal of addiction, resilient familial love, and the power of art, dedicated in part to “every reader who recognizes this experience.” Heartfelt and informative author notes, art notes, and acknowledgments provide narrative closure. patrick gall

About the Author

Jarrett J. Krosoczka is a New York Times bestselling author, a two-time winner of the Children’s Choice Book Award for the Third to Fourth Grade Book of the Year, an Eisner award nominee, and the author and/or illustrator of more than 30 books for young readers. His work includes several picture books, select volumes of Star Wars: Jedi Academy, the Lunch Lady graphic novels, and the Platypus Police Squad novel series. Jarrett has given two TED Talks, both of which have been curated to the main page of TED.com and have collectively accrued more than two million views online. He is also the host of The Book Report with JJK on SiriusXM’s Kids Place Live, a weekly segment celebrating books, authors, and reading. Jarrett lives in Western Massachusetts with his wife and children, and their pugs, Ralph and Frank.

His website is www.studiojjk.com

Teacher Resources

Hey, Kiddo Review on Common Sense Media

Around the Web

Hey, Kiddo on Amazon

Hey, Kiddo on Barnes and Noble

Hey, Kiddo on Goodreads

Hey, Kiddo on LibraryThing

Hey, Kiddo Publisher Page

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