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We’ve noticed a welcome trend lately: excellent graphic novel memoirs (or fiction that feels an awful lot like) written by women about their adolescence. Here are a few to enjoy. (Thanks, Marjane Satrapi, for breaking ground with Persepolis, and to the Tamaki cousins for Skim and This One Summer! Also Katie’s girl-crush Lucy Knisley, who has a new book out — An Age of License — described by the publisher as “an Eat, Pray, Love for the alternative comics fan.”
The November/December 2014 Horn Book Magazine
includes three graphic novel memoirs by women. At the age of four, in 1975, author Cece Bell contracted meningitis, leaving her severely to profoundly deaf. The wonderful El Deafo
is a characterful, vivid, often amusing graphic novel memoir that recaptures the experiences of her childhood — adapting to deafness, to others’ attitudes toward it, and to the technology of the Phonic Ear, a cumbersome assistive device. At the heart of her story is an experience relevant to most children: the finding of the “True Friend,” a falling out, and a reunion. Bell combines great humor and charm (her characters are all anthropomorphic bunnies) with emotional complexity and seriousness.
Fans of Raina Telgemeier’s 2010 Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Book Smile will be smiling all the way through this companion book — Sisters — an often bittersweet but amusingly told story about Raina’s relationship with her younger sister, Amara. The summer before Raina starts high school, she and Amara, their younger brother, and their mom take a road trip from California to Colorado for a family reunion. As in Smile, sepia-toned pages mark the frequent flashbacks, which fill readers in on the evolution of this battle of the sisters. The story ends with a solidly believable truce between the warring siblings, who, one suspects, will continue to both annoy and support each other.
I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached (companion to her 2012 book A Game for Swallows, is the author’s memories of the Lebanese civil war, in a loosely connected series of sobering vignettes and impressions, each beginning with the phrase “I remember.” Black-and-white geometric illustrations capture both the enormous scale of the war (with motifs of falling bombs, helicopters, and stranded cars) and its personal repercussions.
Two new ones that recently came into the office:
Tomboy by Liz Prince: “A memoir about friendship, gender, bullies, growth, punk rock, and the power of the perfect outfit” [from flap copy].
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (roller derby name “Winnie the Pow”), a graphic novel (fiction) about a teen derby grrl.
Have you noticed a trend? Do you have other books to recommend?
The post Mini-trend: Grrrl power grrraphic novels appeared first on The Horn Book.
I don’t remember where I heard about Bryan O’Malley’s newest graphic novel Seconds, but I immediately put myself on the library hold queue for it. You may recognize O’Malley as the creator of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series or maybe you might just know that the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on one of those novels (I learned from the movie that I should have vegan superpowers but I must be doing something wrong because I’m still waiting for them). I’ve not read the graphic novel series, have you? And if so, should I?
But back to Seconds. It is about Katie, a successful chef who runs a hip restaurant called Seconds. She is in the midst of trying to strike out on her own with a brand new restaurant but the building is in such bad shape renovations are taking forever and costing a lot of money. Katie lives in a tiny room above Seconds in order to save money. One evening, there is an accident in the kitchen and a young waitress whom Katie has been trying to make friends with is badly burned. In her room, Katie is presented with a chance to change things. A notebook appears in which she it to write what she wants to change and then eat the little mushroom that was left beside it.
Now I know what you are probably thinking about that mushroom! I thought it too. But it isn’t that sort of mushroom. What it does is erase the accident. It never happened. Katie is happy and relieved and wishes she had more mushrooms because there is so much she would change if she could. And then she discovers the mushrooms are growing beneath the floorboard of a not frequently used storage closet behind the kitchen. She helps herself to quite a few of them, a dozen. And every time something happens that she doesn’t like, she can change it. Her new restaurant, her old boyfriend, friends, she changes them all sometimes more than once. She begins to get confused about what has and hasn’t happened.
She learns from Hazel, the waitress and now her friend who burned her arms that began this whole thing, that Seconds has a house spirit. The house spirit’s name is Lis and she makes an appearance in Katie’s room demanding she give back all those mushrooms, Lis’s mushrooms. But Katie refuses. Things get bad. Really bad.
The story is good, well told. The art is good too. They combine to make an enjoyable reading experience. I liked that Katie is a successful woman and this is her story. She is not drawn as tall and gorgeous, impossibly skinny and extremely well endowed. Nope, Katie is normal. Kind of short even with sort of crazy hair. I also enjoyed mulling over all the ways “seconds” can be applied in the story. From food so good you want seconds to second chances to how a life can change in seconds.
I don’t read graphic novels very often, not because I don’t enjoy them. I think I am just very picky about them. They have to meet some kind of worthiness test that I can’t even begin to articulate. But Seconds passed the test. I’m glad it did because it’s a good read.
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Tagged: Bryan O'Malley
When Raina was little, she begged her parents for a sister. She thought a sister would be the best thing the world.
And then she got one.
Fast forward a decade, when Raina, her siblings, and her mother take a road trip from San Francisco to Colorado for a family reunion. Headphones help Raina tune out her family's bickering and blathering. But when she blocks out the world, Raina runs the risk of missing important things happening around her. Road trips can bring out both the best and worst in people. Things along the way remind Raina of previous events, and the flashbacks add to the story, rather than distract from it, as they are woven in at just the right time for just the right duration, true flashes. Were this a TV movie or an episode of a family dramedy series, one would compliment the tight script, the comedic timing, and the heartwarming moments and memories shared. The fact that this book was inspired by Raina's real life makes it even sweeter and more poignant.
Sisters is a follow-up to Raina's fantastic graphic novel Smile, which chronicled her sixth-grade dental drama. The two books can be read independently, if you'd like - and if you like one, you'll certainly like the other. Such is the case with all of Raina's graphic novels, which showcase her knack for telling stories readers can truly relate to as well as her signature style. Fans of For Better or Worse will definitely like her character's expressive faces and her realistic storylines.
Sisters is written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier, with lettering by John Green and color by Braden Lamb.
Related posts at Bildungsroman
Interview: Raina Telgemeier
Review: The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels
Review: Drama by Raina Telgemeier
What Makes You Smile?
I must admit my interest was immediately piqued when I heard about this Young Adult graphic novel that appealed to both my gamer soul and my feminist sensibilities. I was not let down! I enjoyed this graphic novel so much I thought the only flaw was its brevity. Perhaps too short to really go as in depth in characterization, or with the issues as I’d’ve liked, but still an all around solid story. I found In Real Life to be a very heartfelt and eye opening story about the intersection of gaming, feminism, economics, and labor rights. And as such, we are so pleased to be a part of the 30 Questions with Cory Doctorow tour! Below I am privileged to present the questions and answers on our leg of the tour. Anda gains a lot of confidence through her success with the all-girl gaming guild. What message... Read more »
The post In Real Life: Tour Stop appeared first on The Midnight Garden.
Summary: There aren't many books, graphic novel or not, that can combine sweetness and seriousness in the way In Real Life does. Written by Cory Doctorow with art by Jen Wang, it's a deceptively simple story at first: the protagonist, Anda, is the... Read the rest of this post
By Kyle Pinion
IN REAL LIFE, a graphic novel collaboration between journalist/author Cory Doctorow and comics creator Jen Wang, centers on a young gamer named Anda who becomes enraptured by an massively multiplayer online game (MMO) called “Coarsegold Online”. While logged-in, she makes new friends, including a gregarious fellow gamer named “Sarge” and a “gold-farmer” from China named Raymond. It’s the latter whose activities, which center on illegally collecting valuable objects in the game and selling them to other players from developed countries, begin to open up Anda’s perspectives on the concepts of right and wrong, and the power of action towards civil rights.
The book was a true eye-opener for me, as I’m not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination beyond the occasional dalliance on my console system at home. I was delighted when I received an opportunity to chat with Jen Wang about the origins of this project, its underlying themes, and how much of her own gaming experience played into the development of the narrative.
How did IN REAL LIFE (IRL) find its genesis? Did you know Cory Doctorow prior to working on this project?
Prior to IN REAL LIFE I was familiar with Cory Doctorow as a blogger and activist but I hadn’t read his fiction. ANDA’s GAME, the short story IRL is based on was actually the first piece I read. My publisher First Second sent me a link to the short and asked if I’d be interested. After reading that, it was hard to say no!
What is it about the subject matter that drew you in initially?
I like that it takes gaming, which many people see as frivolous entertainment, and gives it a real life context. The internet is inherently a social platform and it makes sense that it reflects our darker tendencies, such as exploiting people. I also like that it touches on the tension between China and the West. There’s just so much interesting material to explore and at the end of the day it’s still a simple story about two teenage gamers from different countries who become friends.
Your previous work, KOKO BE GOOD, also published through First Second, was solely written and illustrated by yourself. Do you find that there are inherent advantages in the collaborative process, and is there a method you prefer over the other?
It’s definitely a lot easier to illustrate your own work, that’s for sure. The collaborative process is more challenging, but you also get a second point a view and a direction to work towards. Sometimes in your personal work it takes a lot of soul searching to figure out what you’re trying to say but a collaborate project allows you to bounce off other people’s ideas and that’s really refreshing.
On the day to day work on the graphic novel, what was the working relationship between Cory and yourself? Were you in constant contact?
During the scripting phase of the book we were sending a lot of emails. I would write a draft, send it to Cory, and he would send some notes and bounce some ideas back. We went through maybe 8 or so drafts so it took a little while to nail down the final. I was pretty much left alone at the drawing stage, however.
How much of a specific vision did Cory have in the initial “Anda’s Game” script, and how much input did you have on character design before the development of IRL? Do you feel like Anda specifically has your “stamp” on her?
I had pretty much free reign as far as design went, so that part was fairly easy. When First Second approached me to do the project they wanted me to feel comfortable writing my own take, so mostly it was me pitching ideas to Cory and him giving me notes. I do feel like I have my stamp on Anda but then again I don’t know how it wouldn’t have happened naturally. She’s a nerdy teenage shut in and having been one myself I can relate to that a lot.
The gaming details throughout are very specific, do you have a significant gaming/MMO background as a user? If not, is that an area where Cory contributed significantly?
I don’t really have a background in MMOs but I played World of Warcraft for a couple weeks prior to starting the project. That plus a combination of sandbox games I’ve played were the inspiration for Coarsegold online. I mostly tried to create a game that felt familiar and yet tailored it to things I like in games. I’m very much into customization and resource management so it was fun to add things like to the book.
How do you sense that communication has changed for Generation Y and The Millennials? Do you find that you side more with Anda or her mother in what technology brings to social interaction?
I’m definitely on the Millennials side. I can’t imagine what my life would be like now if I didn’t have access to the internet as a teenager. I met so many other young artists online and they really motivated me to create and challenge myself. Without it, I would’ve had to seek these people out in college in person and I would’ve been a lot more lonely and isolated. There are risks to putting yourself online but there are risks to be alive in the real world as well. The best you can do is exercise caution and be smart about your privacy in the same way you would anywhere.
Is there anything from your own experience pulled into Anda’s story, at least from a characterization standpoint?
Do you see Anda as a role model? Was that the intention all along?
I was a lot like Anda in high school. I was a teenage hermit who spent a lot of time connecting to peers online within my community of choice. Like Anda, I found my identity online because I was able to meet other people like myself. I see Anda less as a traditional role model and more as someone readers could relate to. Like Anda, most young people now are discovering the world through the internet and it can be a difficult place to navigate.
What drove the design of the world of Coarsegold? Any specific influences?
World of Warcraft is the main one, but I also looked at the Final Fantasy games, Skyrim, and more open world games like Animal Crossing, The Sims and Second Life.
What was the thought process on the color-design that differentiates Coarsegold from “the real world”?
I definitely wanted Coarsegold to be more bright and colorful by contrast as a reflection of Anda’s feelings toward both realities. I used different filters and colored textures so that real life was a little more tan and monochromatic while Coarsegold looked lively and exciting.
When Anda somewhat bridges the gap between the two by changing her hair color to match her avatar, what kind of sea-change does that indicate for her personally?
At that point in the story Anda has finally found purpose and confidence in her role as a Fahrenheit. Not only has she befriended Raymond and discovered this world of goldfarming, but she’s taken on the task of helping him. It’s a decision she’s been able to make for herself separate from what her peers have led her to believe, and changing her hair color is a symbol of this newfound confidence.
IN REAL LIFE defies expectations a bit in that it shifts a bit touching briefly on females in gaming (with the very succinct hand-raising scene in the classroom and some of the concerns of “Sarge”) and then moves into an area centering on economics and specifically civil rights. Do you sense a strong correlation between the two themes?
Oh, for sure. As in real life, the conflict within Coarsegold comes from who is considered an “other.” As a young girl in gaming, Anda is a minority, yet she’s in a position of power compared to Raymond who is not only a foreigner who doesn’t speak English, but also a goldfarmer. They’re able to connect as outsiders of this gaming establishment and both are fighting for the right to be themselves and be seen as equals.
I have to admit that the term “gold farming” is fairly new to me (as a non-gamer), and IRL paints a very morally grey picture around that activity, what do you feel as though readers should take from the book’s portrayal of that subject?
Gold farming was new to me too until I started researching for this book. There is a lot of grey area and it’s still evolving. What I do hope the readers takes away from IRL is the ability to keep an open mind about the people on the other side of the tracks and be empathetic to their struggles. On the surface the gold farming community appears to be taking advantage of game-makers and the “purity” of the game. On the other hand the gold farmers themselves are actually big fans who can only participate by being taken advantage of.
What inspired the creation of Raymond? Both in the look of his avatar and the character’s plight in China?
I wanted the goldfarmers to look small and vulnerable compared to everyone else. They haven’t been able to level up their characters and they’re not customized so Raymond doesn’t look any different from his peers. I also wanted them to not look human so as to “otherize” the goldfarmers in the eyes of Anda and Lucy at the beginning of the story. For Raymond’s human backstory I took a lot of inspiration from a book I read called FACTORY GIRLS: FROM VILLAGE TO CITY IN A CHANGING CHINA by Leslie T. Chang. It paints these very compassionate portraits of young female migrant workers and the everyday victories and struggles they face. Raymond comes from a very disadvantaged background but he’s also clever and ambitious enough to get what he wants (to play Coarsegold) with the means that he has.
Do you feel a sense of responsibility to educate as a creator publishing a book within the Young Adult literary genre? Does that affect the kinds of stories you hope to tell?
I don’t make it a point to be an educator, but I hope my stories reflect the world I’d like to see and the problems I’d like us to overcome.
If there was one-key take away or message from IN REAL LIFE that should highlighted, what would that be?
Be compassionate to others and be aware of how your role in the community may be inadvertently hurting others less privileged than you.
What’s next on the horizon for you post the release of IRL next month? Any new projects that you can share?
I have a couple new projects I can’t really talk about yet, but I’m excited to share I’m co-organizing a new comics festival in Los Angeles called Comics Arts LA. It’s a one day event that will take place on December 6th. We’ve got really great exhibitors lined up so it’s going to be fun. If any readers out there are in Southern California that weekend, I encourage you to come check it out! http://comicartsla.com
IN REAL LIFE will be available in a bookstore near you on October 14th through First Second
Attention, residents of Blogosphere-opolis: This is no ordinary review. This is a very special blog tour review, organized by First Second, who kindly supplied me with review copies of the new superhero graphic novels created by Paul Pope: Battling... Read the rest of this post
By: Roger Sutton
Blog: Read Roger - The Horn Book editor's rants and raves
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, Lolly's Classroom
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This week, I was lucky enough to have a thirty-minute window when I could pop into my favorite independent bookstore in Los Angeles. They have a large children’s section on the second floor that I love perusing because they do an excellent job at getting new books.
On one of their displays sat El Deafo by Cece Bell. Intrigued first by the illustration of a superhero bunny and second by the title, my immediate thought was “What is this book about and who is this written for?” As if by fate, a children’s book worker looked up from her task of stocking new books and said “Oh that’s a really cute story. I highly recommend it.” I inquired about the reading level and she said it could be from fourth grade to middle school. Opening it, I was stoked to find out it was a graphic novel. Sold. It may be one of the best impulsive $20 I’ve spent of late.
I read this book in two days. It follows the author’s childhood experiences of being deaf, and specifically highlights her experiences in school. What captured me was the depiction of how people treated her and, since it’s from Cece’s point of view, how she felt. Her emotions come through strongly in the text and illustrations, and made me stop and think about how I treat people even if my intention is good. I connected with Cece’s superhero persona, “El Deafo.” Cece uses El Deafo to imagine the ideal way to handle tough situations, even if that doesn’t play out in real life (something I did as a kid too). What I really loved about this book was how the author depicted her friendships with the other kids (the good and the bad). It reminded me that children can sometimes do really mean things but that most of the time they mean well and can be really amazing friends to each other. It’s a lesson I need to carry for the school year.
Cece’s journey starts at the age of four and ends in fifth grade, so as a fifth grade teacher, I’m very excited to bring this graphic novel to my classroom. I think the students will enjoy this book and learn a lot from it. I believe that it will carry lessons of tolerance and respect for those who are hearing impaired, and prepare my students with tools (Don’t cover your mouth while someone is lip reading! Don’t assume all deaf people can sign!) to create meaningful and comfortable experiences with someone who can’t hear well.
The post El Deafo appeared first on The Horn Book.
Tomboy: a graphic memoir
by Liz Prince
Zest Books. 2014
Grades 8 thru 12
The publisher sent me a copy of this book.
What defines who you are? Is it how you dress or is it who you are inside?
Prince explores these questions in graphic memoir, Tomboy. Prince shares her personal experience growing up being a girl who preferred
things traditionally meant
It’s the perfect storm! #Fridayreads and #BannedBooksWeek. You know all of us at Albert Whitman love books. Publishing them and reading them. Going forward, every #FridayReads we’re going to have one of our staffers talk about a book they’re currently reading. Today, we start off with our Director of Sales and Marketing Mike Spradlin:
I kind of chuckle to myself that ALA reports ever increasing challenges of comics and graphic novels in the last few years. Growing up, if it wasn’t for comics, I know I wouldn’t be the reader I am today. I read all of them I could get my hands on, and still do to this day. Right now I’m enjoying the Fables graphic novels by Bill Willingham, James Jean and Alex Maleev.
The story takes place in a contemporary world, where all of the characters from classic fables and fairy tales have been driven from their world, and forced to live among mankind. Many of them like Snow White and her ex-husband Prince Charming can pass as human, but many such, as the three little pigs, must keep to the shadows. All the ‘fables’ want is to unite and remove a mysterious, malevolent evil from their homelands that drove them into our world in the first place. But much like human beings, factions develop, trust issues abound and they find that even with a common enemy uniting is harder than first thought. It’s a great story, with terrific art and I highly recommend it.
Happy Friday and Happy Reading!
Blog: The Children's and Teens' Book Connection
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By: C. C. Gevry,
Once upon a time, in a land you only think you know, lived a little girl and her mother . . . or the woman she thought was her mother.
Every day, when the little girl played in her pretty garden, she grew more curious about what lay on the other side of the garden wall . . . a rather enormous garden wall.
And every year, as she grew older, things seemed weirder and weirder, until the day she finally climbed to the top of the wall and looked over into the mines and desert beyond.
Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale teams up with husband Dean Hale and brilliant artist Nathan Hale (no relation) to bring readers a swashbuckling and hilarious twist on the classic story as you’ve never seen it before. Watch as Rapunzel and her amazing hair team up with Jack (of beanstalk fame) to gallop around the wild and western landscape, changing lives, righting wrongs, and bringing joy to every soul they encounter.
Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Grade Level: 5 – 8
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; First Edition edition (August 5, 2008)
Blog: The Children's and Teens' Book Connection
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By: C. C. Gevry,
After being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone, are separated and lost in a vast uncharted desert.
One by one, they find their way into a deep, forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures…
Humor, mystery, and adventure are spun together in this action-packed, side-splitting saga. Everyone who has ever left home for the first time only to find that the world outside is strange and overwhelming will love Bone.
Age Range: 11 and up
Grade Level: 6 and up
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: GRAPHIX; First Edition edition (February 1, 2005)
A Couple (or More) of My Favorite Things: A Highly Persuasive Article by Maggie B.
I love reading. I also love drawing. This makes graphic novels a combination of two favorites of mine. They are books, but the artwork within ensures that by reading any graphic novel, you are seeing the exact story an author imagined. Every character and event (fictional or otherwise) is portrayed in a way the graphic novelist wanted to show it to you.
Furthermore, art and words cannot always represent everything their creator wants them to. As a duo, however, they are unstoppable! One can give the general idea while the other elaborates, or both words and pictures can work together to become something they couldn’t be on their own, working in tandem to give an idea as well as the meaning behind it.
Most importantly, reading a graphic novel is lots of fun! I can be a reader and a viewer, given a window into someone’s mind. Graphic novels are different from any other type of book because there is a perfect graphic novel for everyone. There are graphic novel biographies, fantasies, romances, science fiction stories, and almost anything else you could think of. There may even be a graphic novel adaptation of your favorite book!
I think everyone should try reading a graphic novel;
you might fall in love with them like I did.
Maggie, Scholastic Kids Council Member
By: C. C. Gevry,
With the fabric of the universe torn, all that stands between us and invading horrors is a team of cosmic misfits. Led by Star-Lord, the newly-minted Guardians of the Galaxy include a who’s who of the mightiest -and most bizarre – protectors the stars have ever seen! Rocket Raccoon, Drax the Destroyer, Groot, Gamora, Adam Warlock, Mantis, the all-new Quasar, Cosmo the telepathic space dog and more take on the universe’s most dangerous menaces…and have fun while doing it!
COLLECTING: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2008) 1-12
Series: Guardians of the Galaxy
Paperback: 296 pages
Publisher: Marvel (August 12, 2014)
By: C. C. Gevry,
I’ll be focusing on graphic novels this week. Hope you enjoy it.
The highly anticipated new standalone full-color graphic novel from Bryan Lee O’Malley, author and artist of the hugely bestselling Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series
Katie’s got it pretty good. She’s a talented young chef, she runs a successful restaurant, and she has big plans to open an even better one. Then, all at once, progress on the new location bogs down, her charming ex-boyfriend pops up, her fling with another chef goes sour, and her best waitress gets badly hurt. And just like that, Katie’s life goes from pretty good to not so much. What she needs is a second chance. Everybody deserves one, after all—but they don’t come easy. Luckily for Katie, a mysterious girl appears in the middle of the night with simple instructions for a do-it-yourself do-over:
1. Write your mistake
2. Ingest one mushroom
3. Go to sleep
4. Wake anew
And just like that, all the bad stuff never happened, and Katie is given another chance to get things right. She’s also got a dresser drawer full of magical mushrooms—and an irresistible urge to make her life not just good, but perfect. Too bad it’s against the rules. But Katie doesn’t care about the rules—and she’s about to discover the unintended consequences of the best intentions.
From the mind and pen behind the acclaimed Scott Pilgrim series comes a madcap new tale of existential angst, everyday obstacles, young love, and ancient spirits that’s sharp-witted and tenderhearted, whimsical and wise.
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (July 15, 2014)
As revealed at Comic Con, then reported in Comic Book Resources, Tom Sniegoski is writing World of Payne, which he co-created with Frank Cho. The story centers around a psychic private investigator named Lockwood Payne, who is actually a modern day sorcerer from an ancient society of witches and wizards and his strange misadventures in the world of the occult and unrealities. Along the way, he's helped by his ever-loyal and unflappable friend, Doctor Hurt, an urgent care doctor in the strip mall next door to Payne's office, and the beautiful Michelle, a witch-in-training.
The series will be told in a hybrid format, mixing traditional comic book storytelling with prose elements. Look for the first volume, World of Payne: Book 0 - Ghost Dog, in Spring 2015. Check out these preview pictures! Click thumbnails below for full-sized images.
By: C. C. Gevry,
Greg Heffley and his family hit the road in author-illustrator Jeff Kinney’s latest installment of the phenomenal bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.
Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Series: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books (November 4, 2014)
Pre-order at Amazon!
Click to embiggen. Totally worth it.Two things to get out there right away: 1. I received a review copy of this book from First Second, and 2. I'd definitely recommend this one for an older YA/crossover audience, due to some fright/violence/swearing... Read the rest of this post
The surest way to make my kids happy? Invite all their friends over to play, give them pizza & ice cream, and let them do whatever they want to do. The next best thing? Bring them the newest comic book that's got stories from all their favorite authors. Kids I've talked to are super excited about Comics Squad, a new collection of short stories edited by the creators of Babymouse, Squish & Lunch Lady. Heck, the school librarians I know are super excited about this, too!
Comics Squad: Recess!
edited by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm & Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Random House, 2014
your local library
ages 8 - 12
*best new book*
Kids don’t need any convincing that recess is the best time of the day, but they’ll have a blast celebrating it with some of the favorite characters. This anthology features eight short comics, some featuring favorite characters like Babymouse and Lunch Lady, and others introducing new characters.
One of my favorite parts is the Mash-Up Madness, showing how kids could combine their favorite characters for some wacky fun:
I love listening to kids make connections between the comics they read here and others that they know. One 10 year old thought "300 Words" was hilarious and asked, "Is Dan Santat the guy who wrote Sidekicks?" Yep -- she was totally right.
Many kids have a much deeper knowledge of graphic novels as a body of work than teachers and librarians. They recognize the visual styles of artists they love. They'll spot Raina Telgemeier's comic in here right away. This collection not only will appeal to kids who get a chance to visit their favorite characters like Babymouse and Lunch Lady. It makes them feel part of this larger phenomenon -- graphic novels for kids.
Watch this terrific trailer and you'll get a sense of just how much fun these comics creators have had putting this together. I also really enjoyed reading Jarrett Krosoczka's post in the Nerdy Book Club
about how Comics Squad
developed as a project between friends and colleagues.
A must have for our school library! The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Random House Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books
My students are big-time fans of Babymouse & Squish comics, and they are super-excited by Comic Squad. Jennifer Holm lives in the Bay Area, and has been very supportive of schools and bookstores in the area. Recently she took some time to sit down with me to talk about her work.
|Jennifer L. Holm|
This interview originally ran in Parents Press
, a local SF Bay Area newspaper I write a monthly column for. I wanted to share it here with readers beyond the Bay Area.Mary Ann Scheuer:
The kids at my school are going to just love Comics Squad: Recess
-- seeing all their favorite comics characters in one place! Why do you think so many kids love to read comics? What makes them fun to read?Jennifer Holm:
I’m so glad — I really think comics can hook some kids on reading. You know, we’re living in a visual society — with video games, the web, advertising, movies and TV. Comics are the ultimate visual storytelling treat. Did you know that graphic novels are one of the fastest growing categories in publishing and bookselling?MAS:
I’m not surprised! They certainly are the most popular type of book in our school library. I worry that some parents think that reading graphic novels is really simple for kids, but that’s not true. How do you explain this to parents?JH:
I think that comics teach you a lot of great reading skills like inference, character development, setting and plot structure. When Matt and I were kids, we loved collected volumes like Snoopy. It built our confidence as readers. I think that’s part of what’s so satisfying for kids -- getting immersed in the whole world of the story. MAS:
What are you excited about with Comic Squad
Kids aren’t growing up with newspapers the same way we did, so we want to provide the fun we had with Sunday comics. Comic Squad
is the ultimate crossover comic, when all your favorite characters (and some new ones!) get together and have a party. We wanted to give kids a chance to visit with their old friends, but also to have some new fun.MAS:
I love the page Mash-Up Madness
and the goofy combinations you came up with. I see kids creating their own comics at school all the time! JH:
I really think that teaching kids to doodle encourages kids to become storytellers. It makes them less scared about doing something perfectly. I love it when kids send us their own Babymouse and Squish comics!MAS:
So what’s the difference between comics we read as kids and graphic novels kids are reading today?JH:
We’re in a total renaissance of comics being created specifically for children. There’s more creative work happening with children’s comics in terms of style, story and genre than ever before.MAS:
What resources do you recommend for parents who want to find graphic novels their kids will want to read?JH:
Definitely seek out your local library and bookstore to see if they have a section of comics just for kids. One of the fun things about our collection is that it can introduce kids to some comic creators they may not have come across before. Here are some suggestions for parents:
Do you have any new projects that you’re excited about? Can you give us a sneak peak?JH:
I’m really excited about my newest novel, The Fourteenth Goldfish
, which comes out next month. It’s set in the Bay Area and combines my love of science and stories, families and friendships.
Thanks so much to Jenni Holm for sharing her time and thoughts. She gives so much to kids -- we are all lucky to have her books in our lives, our libraries and especially our kids' hands.If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.
By: Jen Robinson
Blog: Jen Robinson
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Book: Comics Squad: Recess!
Authors: Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm, Jarrett Krosoczka, Raina Telgemeier & Dave Roman, Dan Santat, Dav Pilkey, Ursula Vernon, Eric Wight, and Gene Luen Yang
Age Range: 7-10
Comics Squad: Recess! is a new collaborative book produced by a team of today's top cartoonists/illustrators/graphic novelists. It features eight stories, all told in comic strip format. The stories are set in an elementary school environment, and are relevant to the concerns of younger elementary schoo kids. Oh, and they are funny, of course.
Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, creators of the Babymouse and Squish series, and Jarrett Krosoczka, creator of the Lunch Lady series, are the editors. Babymouse and Lunch Lady make a few cameo appearances before and between the other stories - I guess you could say that they are the informal hosts to the book. Babymouse also appears in one of the stories, repeatedly thwarted in her "Quest for Recess" ("Typical!". Lunch Lady is actually out sick, but Betty is on the job (and stocked up with new inventions) in "Betty and the Perilous Pizza Day".
As I've personally read most of the Babymouse and Lunch Lady books already, I was interested to see what the other authors would come up with. It's quite a varied lot. I enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek humor of Gene Yang's "The Super-Secret Ninja Club", and the frankly adorable cupcake in Eric Wight's "Jiminy Sprinkles in "Freeze Tag"". Ursula Vernon's "The Magic Acorn" features squirrels meeting up with a tiny alien in an acorn-shaped spaceship. "The Rainy Day Monitor" by Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier celebrates the joys of pretending (with some pretty funny, mostly fake celebrity cameos). Dan Santat, on the other hand, mocks the idea of writing a 300 word essay on The Giving Tree, while giving the teeny-tiniest hint of a middle grade romance.
My favorite story was Dav Pilkey's "Book 'Em, Dog Man". Pilkey writes this as if it were the work of a pair of comic-obsessed young boys. The story is introduced with a letter written by the disapproving teacher of the boys, like this: "As you will see, this comic book contains multiple scenes of stealing, violence, and unlawfulness... and don't get me started on the spelling and grammar!" Personally, I thought that the second-grade-appropriate spelling was hilarious ("desidid", "excape", etc.).
But it's all fun. Though the tone and style of the eight stories varies, a common orange and black color palette across the book lends a certain visual consistency.
Comics Squad: Recess! is dedicated to The Nerdy Book Club, which I thought was a particularly appropriate touch. The Nerdy Book Club members, like the authors of Comics Squad, dedicate their working lives to ensuring the kids find reading fun.
Comics Squad: Recess! is an excellent introduction for younger kids to graphic novels. Including a range of authors ensures that each reader is bound to find at least one story that resonates. This is a book that all elementary school libraries will want to carry (probably in multiple copies). Just be prepared for requests for more of Comics Squad! Fortunately, the authors have other titles available. Comics Squad: Recess! is the absolute epitome of "kid-friendly". Highly recommended. I'll be keeping my copy for when my daughter is a tiny bit older.
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
FTC Required Disclosure:
This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).
© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.
The twofold brilliance of Art Spiegelman's groundbreaking, autobiographical Maus is the graphic novel's lack of sentimentality and Spiegelman's self-portrait as a secondhand Holocaust survivor. The Holocaust is a widely used trope in Jewish American writing and although Spiegelman treats the subject with the compassion and historical sensitivity it merits, Maus avoids the themes of victimization [...]
If you like multiplayer RPGs and graphic novels, then you should pick up IN REAL LIFE by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang when it hits the shelves on October 14th. This full-color graphic novel, which has a front-cover blurb o' praise from Felicia Day of Geek & Sundry, is based on Cory's short story. Thanks to Gina at First Second Books, I had the opportunity to read the book early and then virtually meet writer-illustrator Jen Wang. Let's dive right into our interview:
Creative types the world over have had to take day jobs to pay the bills, and many have stories about their worst day job - but let's stay positive here and ask, what has been your favorite day job?
My favorite day job was working the front desk at a hostel in San Francisco, sometime after college. Every day was a different set of people and it was fantastic for observation. Being the host can be challenging but you also got to talk to a lot of cool people who want to know all about your city. I was actually inking KOKO BE GOOD at the time and would try to do a page or so during the slow hours of my shift. There weren’t that many!
What are your favorite mediums and tools of the trade?
I’m pretty standard when it comes to tools. I draw comics with a mechanical pencil and ink with a #2 Raphael 8404 brush. I also have an assortment of Pentel brush pens at various stages of dryness that I like to play around with. I held off for the longest time but I’m ready to get a Cintiq. I think that’s the next step for me!
KOKO BE GOOD, your first full-color full-length graphic novel published by First Second Books, is set in San Francisco, your old stomping ground. What are/were your favorite San Francisco haunts?
I haven’t lived in San Francisco for a while so things have probably changed a lot, but I still love the Castro Theater. They have great programming and nothing is better than that pre-show organ player.
Any cool writing courses, groups, or spots you'd recommend to aspiring authors and artists in the Bay Area?
Unfortunately I didn’t take advantage of many art and writing resources in the Bay Area when I was there, but there’s always volunteering for 826 Valencia, which does great writing workshops for students. There’s also events like Litquake and SF ZineFest that can get you in touch with other creative members of the community. A met a ton of peers just going to A.P.E. (Alternative Press Expo) every year!
What inspired KOKO BE GOOD?
KOKO BE GOOD started with the main character in a short comic I drew my second year of college. Like most people that age I was going through a lot of big changes in my life and she encapsulated all those feelings I couldn’t quite articulate and gain any sort of perspective on. After college I wanted to expand on the story and close out that period of my life with a big project and KOKO the graphic novel was born.
How was it writing a full-length book versus single comics and anthology contributions?
The main difference between the full-length book and the short comic was it took a super long time! Drawing the short comic took maybe less than a week but the book took more than a year to complete.
IN REAL LIFE was based on a short story by Cory Doctorow. Tell us about the journey from short story to graphic novel.
After KOKO I was struggling with my follow up project and First Second approached me about doing the adaptation for ANDA’S GAME, Cory’s short story. I’d never talked to Cory before but he had previously written a great review of KOKO for Boing Boing and was looking forward to working with me and that was super exciting.
Was this your first adaptation based on someone else's story?
Yes! I’d never adapted anything before and part of the appeal was First Second allowed me a lot of flexibility in translating the story to comics. Cory’s prose is very dialogue driven, which would’ve been a little visually static, so I was able to move it in a more action-driven direction. It allowed me to use my skills as a writer too, which made the overall experience more fun for me.
Describe the collaboration process - Did you and Cory review the original short story together, decide what would be changed and what had to be kept, and then you put pen to paper following an agreed-upon beat sheet or storyboard, or did you launch right in and get notes as you went?
I wrote a couple different drafts of the script, and Cory would go over each one and make notes and suggestions. Interestingly the first draft was a very literal translation of ANDA’S GAME, and it was clear I wasn’t very good at faking a Cory voice. The more I followed my gut instincts and wrote as myself the more natural the story became. The final story is very different from the original but it is a combination of my voice and Cory’s vision.
I love the shift in the colour palette between the story's real world and the gaming world. Which colour scheme did you decide on first? Which world was "easier" to create and plot?
The real life material came more naturally, so it was easier to draw as well. I liked drawing real life Anda with her fuller figure and messy hair. For the color palettes, I put a more monochromatic filter over the real life stuff and in the gaming world I just added more textures and didn’t skimp on the color!
Which parts of Anda's story resonate with you?
On a very basic level I indentified with Anda as a teenager who spent all her time afterschool holed up in her room talking to internet friends. I started meeting other cartoonists online at her age and having a place where I could meet peers and indulge in my interests really changed my life. But also Anda is naïve and learning a lot about how the world works. She doesn’t have a lot of life experience, she’s just reading about everything on the internet and thinks she understands it all when she doesn’t. The idea of being well-intentioned but still making mistakes and learning from that is something that really resonates with me.
Are you a gamer?
I’m not that much of a gamer, but I like a lot of indie games.
What games do you play and recommend?
More recent ones I’ve played that I’ve liked are Gone Home, Analogue: A Hate Story, and Monument Valley. There’re also a bunch of cool interactive fiction games out there like the Twine game Howling Dogs by Porpentine. Of course I also play a lot of games on my phone. IN REAL LIFE would not have happened without a lot of Tetris and Plants Vs. Zombies.
I love Tetris.
What artists -- musicians, actors, painters, authors -- have inspired your personal style?
My drawing style came out of reading lots of manga and watching Disney cartoons as a kid. The weirdest thing about that is I don’t really watch Disney movies or read manga anymore but those roots are so strong they’ve stuck.
Who would you love to collaborate with, if such things were possible?
I think it would be super fun to collaborate with a game designer! Indie games and comics have a lot in common and they’re both exploring new and exciting ways to tell stories. Doing it on my own seems daunting, but working with someone would be so cool!
You hear that, game designers? Contact Jen! :)
Do you have any beta readers who read your early drafts?
I don’t share early drafts with peers because I don’t want too many opinions muddling my focus, but I do share them with my boyfriend, Jake. He’s the perfect sounding board because we have different individual tastes but we tend to agree on what does or doesn’t work. It’s a good way to have perspective on what I’m doing.
Any words of encouragement for female artists and/or gamers who love being creative but are hesitant to realize their potential, who think of their art as a hobby but ought to really turn it into a career?
I can’t really speak for games but the advice I’d give to female artists is, just do it! There’s no reason not to! Indie comics are a very robust and female-friendly community. Put your work online, go to conventions, meet people online, and I promise you’ll find lots of people who will support your creativity. Everyone just wants to read more cool comics!
Visit Jen at http://jenwang.net
Get a sneak peek at IN REAL LIFE at firstsecondbooks.com!
Sisters(for ages 8-12) by Raina Telgemeier
When she was young, Raina was so excited to become a big sister. She couldn’t wait to have a sibling to play with! She hoped it would be like having a built-in friend who would never have to go home before dinnertime. But when Amara was born, Raina found having a sibling wasn’t quite what she expected. She was a cute baby, but she cried a lot.
Now that Raina is starting middle school, she can hardly get a minute of privacy at home, especially because she’s crammed into one bedroom with her younger sister and her younger brother Will. To keep the peace between Raina and Amara, Mom and Dad decide to do some room rearranging. Raina will get her own room, and Will and Amara will share the big bedroom. Mom and Dad will move to a sofa bed in the living room.
Will these two sisters finally figure out how to get along?
Check out this video preview of Sisters
! Doesn’t the art remind you of Raina Telgemeier’s other books Smile
Do you have any siblings? What do you love the most about having a brother or sister? What parts don’t you love about it? Tell us what you think in the Comments below!
Marisa, STACKS Intern
By: Betsy Bird
Blog: A Fuse #8 Production
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By Cece Bell
Amulet (an imprint of Abrams)
On shelves September 2nd
We appear to exist in a golden age of children’s graphic novel memoirs. Which is to say, there are three of them out this year (El Deafo, Sisters, and The Dumbest Idea Ever). How to account for the sudden tiny boom? If I were to harbor a guess I’d say it has something to do with publishers realizing that the genre can prove a profitable one (hat tip then to Smile). We’re beginning to enter into an era where the bulk of the gatekeepers out there, be they parents or teachers or librarians, are viewing comics not as a corrupting influence but rather as a new literary form with which to teach. Memoirs are particularly interesting and have proven to be a wonderful way to slowly ease kids into the big beautiful world of nonfiction. That said, not everyone’s youth is worthy of a retelling. To tell a memoir well you need to have a narrative arc of some sort. One that doesn’t feel forced. For CeCe Bell, her first foray into graphic novels is also telling the story of her youth. The result, El Deafo, is a remarkable look at a great grand question (What to do when you can no longer hear and feel different from everyone you know?) alongside a smaller one that every kid will relate to (How do you find a good friend?). Bell takes the personal and makes it universal, an act that truly requires superhero skills.
Until the age of four CeCe was pretty much indistinguishable from any other kid. She liked her older siblings. She liked to sing to herself. But a sudden bout with meningitis and something changed for CeCe. All at once her hearing was gone. After some experimentation she was fitted with a Sonic Ear (a device that enabled her to hear her teacher’s voice) and started attending classes with other kids like herself. A family trip to a smaller town, however, meant going to a new school and trying to make new friends. When faced with problems she reverts to her pretend superhero self, El Deafo. With subtlety Bell weaves in knowledge of everything from reading lips and sign language to the difficulties of watching un-captioned television. At the same time the book’s heart lies with a single quest: That of finding the absolute perfect friend.
The rise of the graphic novel memoir of a cartoonist’s youth with a child audience in mind really hit its stride when Raina Telgemeier wrote, Smile. That dire accounting of her at times horrific dental history paved the way for other books in the same vein. So where did my library choose to catalog that graceful memoir? In the biography section? No. In the graphic novel section? Not initially, no. For the first year of its existence it was shelved in nonfiction under the Dewey Decimal number 617.645 T. That’s right. We put it in the dental section. So it was with great trepidation that I looked to see where El Deafo would end up. Would it be in the section on the hearing impaired or would the catalog understand that this book is about so much more than the Sonic Ear? As it happens, the book appears to be primarily cataloged as a memoir more than anything else. Sure the information in there about the deaf community and other aspects of living as someone hearing impaired are nonfiction, but the focus of the story is always squarely on CeCe herself.
The real reason I found the book as compelling as I did was due in large part to the way in which Bell tackles the illogical logic of childhood friendships. So many kids are friends thanks to geographical convenience. You’re my age and live within a certain radius of my home? We’re besties! And Bell’s hearing impaired state is just a part of why she is or is not friends with one person or another. Really, the true arc of the story isn’t necessarily CeCe coming to terms with the Sonic Ear, but rather how she comes to terms with herself and, in doing so, gets the best possible friend. It’s like reading a real life Goldilocks story. This friend is too bossy. This friend is too fixated on Cece’s hearing. But this friend? She’s juuuuuust right.
So why bunnies? Bell could easily have told her story with human beings. And though the characters in this book appear to be anthropomorphized rabbits (reminding me of nothing so much as when guest stars would appear on the children’s television program Arthur) there is no particular reason for this. They never mention a particular love of carrots or restrict their movements to hop hop hopping. They are, however, very easy on the eyes and very enticing. This book was sitting on my To Be Reviewed shelf when my three-year-old waltzed over and plucked it for her own perusal. The bunnies are accessible. In fact, you completely forget that they even are bunnies in the course of reading the book. You also fail to notice after a while how beautifully Bell has laid out her comic panels too. The sequential storytelling is expertly rendered, never losing the reader or throwing you out of the story. One librarian I spoke to also mentioned how nice it was to see that the dream sequences with El Deafo are always clearly delineated as just that. Dream sequences. Fantasy and reality are easily distinguishable in this novel. No mean feat when everyone has a twitchy little nose.
Maybe we’ve peaked. Maybe we’re seeing as many graphic memoirs for kids as we’ll ever see in a given year. But that can’t be, can it? We all have stories to tell, no matter what our upbringing looked like. There’s always some element in our past that’s relatable to a wide audience. It’s the clever author that knows how to spin that element into a storyline worthy of a younger audience. There isn’t a jot of doubt in my mind that CeCe Bell’s book is going to be vastly beloved by nearly every child that picks it up. Engaging and beautifully drawn, to say nothing of its strength and out-and-out facts, El Deafo is going to help set the standard for what a memoir for kids should be. Infinitely clever. Undeniably fun. Don’t miss it.
On shelves September 2nd.
Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.
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