Tag Archives: Graphic Novel

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfield

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfield. May 2, 2017. First Second, 211 p. ISBN: 9781596439368.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Uncanny manifestations and lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone.

The Spill claimed Addison’s parents and scarred her little sister, Lexa, who hasn t spoken since. Addison provides for her sister by photographing the Zone’s twisted attractions on illicit midnight rides. Art collectors pay top dollar for these bizarre images, but getting close enough for the perfect shot can mean death or worse.

When an eccentric collector makes a million-dollar offer, Addison breaks her own hard-learned rules of survival and ventures farther than she has ever dared. Within the Spill Zone, Hell awaits and it seems to be calling Addison’s name.

Part of series: The Spill Zone (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Smoking, Gore, Horror themes

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (April 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 16))
Grades 9-12. As he did in the YA favorite Uglies (2005), Westerfeld crafts a world drastically and subtly altered by an extranormal development, then rivetingly explores its practical and psychological consequences. The development in this case is something otherworldly that has “spilled” into a small town in upstate New York. Addison illegally penetrates the spill zone to photograph its disturbing effects on people, animals, and environment and sells the pictures as black-market art to support her little sister, an escapee from the spill zone but not, perhaps, from its effects. When Addison is approached with a shady deal to penetrate the zone more deeply than ever before, she will have to break every rule she’s ever set to buy freedom for her sister and herself. Westerfeld handles the spooky business of the infected town magnificently, spiking the eerie and inexplicable with moments of genuine horror while always keeping the emotional tensions of his highly accessible teenage protagonist at the center. Puvilland provides rough, gritty visuals that deliver on the haunted world of the zone as well as the more realistic world of subterfuge and danger that Addison must navigate. The story breaks at a high-tension moment with plenty left to resolve in book two, but it is nevertheless a terrifically satisfying read.

Horn Book Magazine (May/June, 2017)
This first entry in a creepy, addictively suspenseful graphic novel series makes for compulsive reading. Three years ago, something very strange happened in Poughkeepsie, New York–no one is certain exactly what–but weird things happened in the city and weird things now populate it. Although the entire Spill Zone has been cordoned off, Addie continues to live just inside the checkpoint with her younger sister, Lexa (who doesn’t speak, except to her doll Vespertine), after losing both parents in the Spill. Addie regularly and illegally rides through the Spill Zone on her motorcycle, photographing the bizarre things she witnesses and selling her pictures to a local art dealer. Then a wealthy collector (who, it turns out, has bought up all of Addie’s photographs) makes her an offer she can’t refuse: a million dollars for retrieving a single item from a building inside the Spill Zone. As Addie sets out on her mission, the local authorities discover that she is the rogue motorcyclist; the North Koreans (who are also interested in this item) begin to close in; and, worst of all, Vespertine becomes animated by the same evil presence that permeates the Spill Zone. Puvilland’s dynamic panel layouts, striking use of unexpected colors, and sketchy line work serve the story well while conveying the unsettling mood of the piece. Westerfeld has set up his series with a provocative premise, and as the precise nature of the Spill Zone continues to be revealed, the stakes are sure to be raised accordingly in future volumes. jonathan hunt

About the Author

Scott Westerfeld is a New York Times bestselling author of YA. He was born in the Texas and now lives in Sydney and New York City. In 2001, Westerfeld married fellow author Justine Larbalestier.

His website is www.scottwesterfield.com.

 Around the Web

Spill Zone  on Amazon

Spill Zone on Goodreads

Spill Zone on JLG

 

Spill Zone Publisher Page

The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel

The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel. May 2, 2017. Random House Books for Young Readers, 248 p. ISBN: 9781101935873.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 4.3; Lexile: 400.

The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there’s more to themselves—and more to their worlds—than meets the eye. . . .

• The clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, Oona Lee is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine.

• A boy from the poorest slums, An Tzu has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations.

• Star athlete Jax Amboy is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends?

When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure!

Part of Series: 5 Worlds (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Fighting

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (March 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 14))
Grades 4-7. Oona is lucky to have grown up in the relative luxury of Sand Dancer Academy, though she’s clumsy and the last person anyone would expect to have any special powers. An Tzu ekes out a meager life in the slums surrounding the academy, and when Toki rebels from one of the moons making up the five worlds attack the main power station, he and Oona—along with Jax Amboy, an athlete with a serious secret—find themselves unexpectedly at the center of the conflict. Together, they navigate the city under siege, flee Toki forces curiously insistent on capturing Oona, and try to make sense of some enigmatic clues they discover along the way. The Siegels’ immersive series starter drops readers right into the midst of its fully fleshed-out world, a multiplanet system with simmering conflicts that might look awfully familiar to contemporary readers. When those conflicts come to a head, the disarray in the city is terrifying, which only amplifies the suspense of Oona, An Tzu, and Jax’s quest. Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun’s richly detailed panels, filled with fluid shapes, swirling sand, and clearly depicted action, imbue the narrative with vivid, compelling atmosphere, while their figures are refreshingly varied in size, shape, and skin tone. With sensitive writing, gorgeous artwork, and a riveting plot, this is a series to keep an eye on.

Kirkus Reviews (April 1, 2017)
A sudden attack on the world of Mon Domani and its inhabited moons drives a young dancer, a street urchin, and an illegal android together.Many pages are crowded with sequential panels that are too small to fit the dialogue balloons or convey the hot action discernibly, but the overall plotline is easy enough to follow. Though generally mocked as a poor student of sand dancing—a psychokinetic art that uses hand and body movements to conjure solid “aniforms” from mystic vapors—next to her vanished big sister, Jessa, Oona Lee finds her powers growing as mysterious forces work to prevent the relighting of giant, long-dark Beacons that may stave off the growing environmental instability that is threatening all five worlds. With but little time to address the crisis by learning how to dance up a mighty Sand Warrior aniform and rediscover the lost technique of Beacon lighting, Oona is plunged into a running battle with minions of the Mimic, an ancient shape-changing nemesis. The three illustrators work seamlessly together to place Oona, a thick-bodied but graceful, pale-skinned strawberry blonde, in exotic, elaborately envisioned settings and surround her with a notably variegated cast of green-, blue-, brown-, black-, and pink-skinned allies and adversaries. The climax features a shocking revelation but leaves one Beacon lit with four to go: stay tuned. A headlong, if visually busy, opener for what promises to be a rare adventure. (Graphic science fiction. 10-13)

About the Author

Mark Siegel has written and illustrated several award-winning picture books and graphic novels, including the New York Times bestseller Sailor Twain, or the Mermaid in the Hudson. He is also the founder and editorial director of First Second Books. He lives with his family in New York.

 

 

Around the Web

The Sand Warrior on Amazon

The Sand Warrior on Goodreads

The Sand Warrior on JLG

The Sand Warrior Publisher Page

A Soldier’s Sketchbook by John Wilson

A Soldier’s Sketchbook: The Illustrated First World War Diary of R.H. Rabjohn by John Wilson. March 7, 2017. Tundra Books, 112 p. ISBN: 9781770498549.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.0; Lexile: 990.

A unique First World War diary, illustrated with more than a hundred stunning pencil sketches, for children learning history and also for adults interested in a new perspective on the War and authentic wartime artefacts.

Russell Rabjohn was just eighteen years old when he joined up to fight in the First World War. In his three years of soldiering, he experienced the highs and lows of army life, from a carefree leave in Paris to the anguish of seeing friends die around him. Like many soldiers, he defied army regulations and recorded everything he saw and felt in a small pocket diary.

Private Rabjohn was a trained artist, and as such he was assigned to draw dugouts, map newly captured trenches, and sketch the graves of his fallen comrades. This allowed him to carry an artist’s sketchbook on the battlefield–a freedom he put to good use, drawing everything he saw. Here, in vivid detail, are images of the captured pilot of a downed German biplane; the horrific Flanders mud; a German observation balloon exploding in midair; and the jubilant mood in the streets of Belgium when the Armistice is finally signed. With no surviving veterans of the First World War, Rabjohn’s drawings are an unmatched visual record of a lost time.

Award-winning author John Wilson brings his skills as a historian and researcher to bear, carefully curating the diary to provide context and tell the story of Private Rabjohn’s war. He has selected each of the diary entries and the accompanying images, and has provided the background that modern-day readers need to understand what a young soldier went through a century ago. The result is a wonderfully detailed and dramatic account of the war as seen through an artist’s eyes.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war, Xenophobic epithets

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2017 (Online))
Grades 7-10. Russell Hughes Rabjohn was only 18 when, in 1916, he enlisted in the Canadian armed forces to fight in WWI. Following some eight months of training, he was shipped to the French front. Already a trained artist, he was assigned to map trenches, draw dugouts, and sketch the graves of his fallen comrades. As Wilson notes, this gave him leave to carry a sketchbook to the front (soldiers were normally forbidden to sketch, paint, or photograph close to fighting). The more than 100 beautifully rendered pencil sketches contained in this fascinating book are, therefore, a rare visual record of one soldier’s vivid and often chilling experiences of war. The sketches are accompanied by excerpts from Rabjohn’s diaries, five of which Wilson serendipitously discovered in the Canadian War Museum. The entries are enhanced by Wilson’s contextual commentary, and each of the six sections into which the book is divided are introduced by his more discursive background information. The result is a captivating introduction to the realities of the Great War.

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 15, 2017)
A young Canadian soldier’s reminiscences from the western front.In this unusual memoir, historian Wilson describes being shown Rabjohn’s diary, published privately in 1977, by Rabjohn’s Canadian great-niece. Wilson has transformed the diary into a compelling account of World War I, compiled from Rabjohn’s diary and sketchbooks and supplemented with contextual information about the war. Just 18 when he enlisted in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force in 1916, Rabjohn saw direct action in major battles, including the assault on Vimy Ridge, the Battle of Arras, and the muddy horror show that was the Third Battle of Ypres, or Passchendaele. The extracts from the diary describe intimate wartime experiences of death and destruction in gruesomely dispassionate terms. Apart from a blissful two-week leave in Paris, it’s a story of unmitigated horror, highlighting more than any textbook the futility of war. As a trained artist, Rabjohn was allowed to bring sketchbooks onto the battlefield and thus created a unique portfolio of accurate pencil sketches of trenches, dugouts, and graves. He also depicted scenes of soldiers, buildings, and devastated landscapes, which he reworked and supplemented when he came home. Endpaper maps of Western Europe and the parts of France and Belgium where Rabjohn saw action help situate readers. This unique compilation of firsthand impressions of the Great War will be a valuable resource for adults and teens with an interest in this turning point in world history. (index, timeline, further reading) (Nonfiction. 12-adult)

About the Author

John Wilson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and moved to Canada after university to work as a geologist. Eventually he began to write full time, and today he is one of Canada’s best-known authors of historical fiction and nonfiction for kids, teens, and adults. He’s published more than forty books, including several novels set during the First World War: Wings of War, Dark Terror, And in the Morning and Shot at Dawn. His books have won or been shortlisted for numerous prizes, including the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Text, the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People, the Red Maple and White Pine Awards, the Hackmatack Children’s Choice Award, the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize, and the prestigious Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction. John Wilson lives in Lantzville on Vancouver Island.

Her website is www.johnwilsonauthor.com.

Teacher Resources

World War I Resources from the NEA

Around the Web

A Soldier’s Sketchbook on Amazon

A Soldier’s Sketchbook on Goodreads

A Soldier’s Sketchbook on JLG

A Soldier’s Sketchbook Publisher Page

Yvain: The Knight of the Lion by M.T. Anderson

Yvain: The Knight of the Lion by M.T. Anderson. March 14, 2017. Candlewick Press, 134 p. ISBN: 9780763659394.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Eager for glory and heedless of others, Sir Yvain sets out from King Arthur’s court and defeats a local lord in battle, unknowingly intertwining his future with the lives of two compelling women: Lady Laudine, the beautiful widow of the fallen lord, and her sly maid Lunette. In a stunning visual interpretation of a 12th century epic poem by Chrétien de Troyes, readers are — at first glance — transported into a classic Arthurian romance complete with errant knights, plundering giants, and fire-breathing dragons. A closer look, however, reveals a world rich with unspoken emotion. Striking, evocative art by Andrea Offermann sheds light upon the inner lives of medieval women and the consequences Yvain’s oblivious actions have upon Laudine and Lunette. Renowned author M. T. Anderson embraces a new form with a sophisticated graphic novel that challenges Yvain’s role as hero, delves into the honesty and anguish of love, and asks just how fundamentally the true self can really change.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence

 

Author & Illustrator Interviews

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 8))
Grades 8-11. This adaptation of Chrétien de Troyes’ medieval poem beautifully ties together period art and imagery with stylish visual storytelling. When Yvain, one of Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, falls in love with Laudine, the wife of the man he killed in a duel, he’s ecstatic when Laudine is convinced to marry him, despite the hatred she bears for her husband’s killer. But Yvain fails to keep a promise, she spurns him, and he spends his tormented days contritely fighting to regain his honor and win her back. Anderson makes it clear, however, that all is not rosy: Laudine is politically savvy, and her reconciliation has nothing to do with love, despite her guileless husband’s joy at the end. Offermann’s swirling, evocative artwork, in muted tones and stylized figures reminiscent of tapestries, does an excellent job of depicting both action-heavy battle scenes and expressive moments full of emotional heft. Teens who might balk at reading an epic poem will likely be surprised and delighted by Anderson and Offermann’s thoughtful, entertaining, and provocative presentation of this centuries-old story.

Horn Book Magazine (March/April, 2017)
The storyline of this graphic novel retelling of a twelfth-century epic poem is straightforward enough: after slaying Sir Esclados, Sir Yvain, a young knight-errant from King Arthur’s court, falls madly in love with and marries the lady Laudine, Esclados’s widow. Shortly after their marriage, Yvain fails to keep a promise, and Laudine denounces him. Yvain determines to become worthy of her forgiveness by defending others, not for glory, but out of compassion. The story ends with an overjoyed Yvain reuniting with Laudine: a classic closure where true love triumphs. And yet, Anderson and Offermann offer something very different from a traditional chivalric tale here, putting as much emphasis on Laudine’s sorrow as on Yvain’s adventures. This retelling is a tempestuous counter-story that challenges perceived notions of love by eliciting darker emotions of doubt, confusion, and even rage in examining women’s roles in relationships and society. The writer and artist both effectively capture Laudine’s indignation, resignation, and ultimate fate. Readers cannot help but empathize upon observing her constant sorrowful expressions juxtaposed with those of Yvain’s jubilation—both skillfully depicted by Offermann. Anderson’s spare, matter-of-fact narration, set against Offerman’s muted earth tones, detailed small panels, sweeping spreads, and swirling, turbulent motifs, further ensures that readers’ hearts are as tormented as Laudine’s. Bagieu, (born 22 January 1982 Paris), is a French illustrator and comic designer. She became known for her comic blog My quite fascinating life.

About the Author

Matthew Tobin Anderson (M. T. Anderson), (1968- ) is an author, primarily of picture books for children and novels for young adults. Anderson lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

His website is www.mt-anderson.com.

 

Around the Web

Yvain: The Knight of the Lion on Amazon

Yvain: The Knight of the Lion on Goodreads

Yvain: The Knight of the Lion on JLG

Yvain: The Knight of the Lion Publisher Page

California Dreamin’ by Pénélope Bagieu

California Dreamin’ by Pénélope Bagieu. March 7, 2017. First Second, 272 p. ISBN: 9781626725461.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

Before she became the legendary Mama Cass—one quarter of the mega-huge folk group The Mamas and the Papas—Cass Eliot was a girl from Baltimore trying to make it in the big city. After losing parts to stars like Barbra Streisand on the Broadway circuit, Cass found her place in the music world with an unlikely group of cohorts.

The Mamas and the Papas released five studio albums in their three years of existence. It was at once one of the most productive (and profitable) three years any band has ever had, and also one of the most bizarre and dysfunctional groups of people to ever come together to make music. Through it all, Cass struggled to keep sight of her dreams—and her very identity.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Strong sexual themes; Drugs; Alcohol; Smoking; Nudity

 

Reviews

Booklist (April 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 16))
Before she was Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas, she was Ellen Cohen, whose parents ran a Baltimore deli and fostered her love of music. French graphic novelist Bagieu (Exquisite Corpse, 2015) tells Cass’ pre-fame story from the perspectives of many who knew her. Her little sister says it was her arrival that made Ellen eat and eat to please their parents. A classmate believes Ellen when, the day they met, she tells him she’s going to be a star. Later, Michelle Phillips wishes Cass saw her as a friend, not a rival, while John Phillips insists Cass has no place in their band—a fight he loses when a record executive declares it’s Cass who makes their sound complete. This testimonial approach—a woman’s story told by everyone but her—works, thanks to Bagieu’s fascination with her subject. Her pencil-sketched characters are distinctive and emotive (and occasionally high and big-eyed), while their lively world is storybook-cute and highly referential to the music Cass made so familiar. Have headphones at the ready.

Library Journal (June 1, 2017)
Ellen Naomi Cohen (1941-74), the self-dubbed Cass Elliot, spread her beautiful contralto and extravagant personality across the pop music scene of the 1960s and 1970s as part of The Mamas and the Papas and, later, as a solo act. Here, Bagieu (Exquisite Corpse) packs in all the relationship drama, body shaming, and bouts of intoxication (in multiple senses) that fed into Elliot realizing her dream to be a superstar. Large in body and personality as well as in vocal charm, Elliot gained fan adulation more readily than friendship or love. Today, her persistence and self-confidence encourages women-and men-to mobilize their talent despite setbacks. Narrating from the viewpoints of those close to Elliot, Bagieu drew the entire story in free-spirited black pencil that metaphorically references the spontaneity of those decades. The sassy, fluid art creates a slightly fictionalized yet paradigm-shifting portrait of the star as she might have wanted to be remembered. VERDICT Elliot’s story will charm boomers who remember the original songs as well as younger ages who can easily identify with Elliot, her starry eyes, and her struggles.

About the Author

Pénélope Bagieu, (born 22 January 1982 Paris), is a French illustrator and comic designer.

Penelope Bagieu graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Economic and Social studies, she spent a year at ESAT Paris, then at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris and then at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. Multimedia and entertainment, where she graduated in December 2006.

Her website is www.penelope-jolicoeur.com.

Around the Web

California Dreamin’ on Amazon

California Dreamin’ on Goodreads

California Dreamin’ on JLG

California Dreamin’ Publisher Page

The Shape of Ideas by Grant Snider

The Shape of Ideas: An Illustrated Exploration of Creativity by Grant Snider. April 18, 2017. Abrams ComicArts, 144 p. ISBN: 9781419723179.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

What does an idea look like? And where do they come from? Grant Snider’s illustrations will motivate you to explore these questions, inspire you to come up with your own answers and, like all Gordian knots, prompt even more questions. Whether you are a professional artist or designer, a student pursuing a creative career, a person of faith, someone who likes walks on the beach, or a dreamer who sits on the front porch contemplating life, this collection of one- and two-page comics will provide insight into the joys and frustrations of creativity, inspiration, and process—no matter your age or creative background.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Allusions to alcohol use; Allusion to sex

 

Reviews

Library Journal – web only (May 26, 2017)
This volume compiles comics from Snider’s popular website, IncidentalComics.com. In brief pieces, many comprising a single page, Snider offers a touch of inspiration and observational humor for just about anyone struggling creatively. Each chapter addresses the various factors involved in achieving a personal goal, whether contemplation by way of thoughtful reflection or exploration through steadfast questioning. The subjects can be applied to everyone and include procrastination, multitasking, and lack of motivation. The simple yet colorful drawings are a perfect fit for the down-to-earth advice. Verdict A wonderful addition to the self-help shelf and for anyone seeking encouragement with a dose of wit.-Lucy Roehrig, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

Publishers Weekly (May 15, 2017)
Bold and colorful comics illustrations highlight this inspirational guide to artistic and everyday creation, focusing on sparking light-bulb-over-the-head moments through short reflections on practical and mental exploration. An orthodontist who practices cartooning and illustration on the side, Snider uses gentle and playful humor to explore subjects from the concrete (life drawing and typography) to the abstract (writer’s block and doing nothing). Although Snider’s whimsical and cheerful panels don’t paint a specific narrative, the comics format is well suited to these concepts: a page on multitasking introduces more and more objects to each static panel until they overwhelm; “How to Climb a Hill” quirkily brainstorms the Sisyphus conundrum by considering how get a stubborn tapir up a mountain. The tongue-in-cheek wit and self-deprecating style make this a pleasant introduction to the joy and frustration of making any kind of art, and the beautifully designed presentation-with a charming die-cut cover-is a fine proof of concept.

About the Author

Grant Snider is an artist with an attempt to master words and drawings. His current profession is being an orthodontist. His work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Kansas City Star, The Best American Comics 2013, and all across the internet.

He currently resides in Wichita, Kansas with his wife, daughter, and two sons.

Her website is www.grantsnider.com.

Around the Web

The Shape of Ideas on Amazon

The Shape of Ideas on Goodreads

The Shape of Ideas on JLG

The Shape of Ideas Publisher Page

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.

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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