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1. #GNCelebration -- Sunny Side Up

Every Thursday in October, we'll be celebrating Graphic Novels here on our blog. We are teaming up with blogger friends at Kid Lit Frenzy and Assessment in Perspective, so you'll want to check out their blogs every week too! If you want to know more about our monthlong celebration, read our Nerdy Book Club post announcing it. We also hope you'll join our Google Community where the party will come together! We love Graphic Novels and we want to share that love with the world.

by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Graphix/Scholastic, 2015

Back at the end of August, Franki wrote about the AMAZING podcast that Colby Sharp and Travis Yonkers created, called The Yarn. Over the course of eight episodes, Sharp and Yonkers explored every aspect of the making of Sunny Side Up.

We both loved the book, and the podcast gave us fascinating insight into all kinds of back story from a variety of points of view. We couldn't wait to see how the book would be received by its intended audience -- middle grade readers.

Yesterday, I sat down with four of my 5th grade girls who have read the book and asked them what they thought of it.

Before I tell you what they said about Sunny Side Up, I should tell you about the class' conversation about our next read aloud. Earlier this week, we finished The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart, and we were discussing the ending and the themes. Specifically, we were talking about the power of reading books with hard, emotional topics. I told them that perhaps I would choose a book that was emotionally a little lighter for our next read aloud, and they protested...LOUDLY. They clamored for another book that nearly broke their hearts, that made them sit on the edges of their seats gasping, that caused them to grapple with hard life issues. That was exactly what I hoped for with The Honest Truth. I wanted our read aloud and our classroom community to be a safe place to think about and talk about a book that wasn't all sunshine and roses. I never would have guessed, though, how hungry they would be for more of that after one book full.

Because of this, I wasn't at all surprised that my readers loved Sunny Side Up. They absolutely got that although it is a full color graphic novel with the word SUNNY on the cover, it's actually the story of a dark time in a family's life. They knew why Sunny was in Florida with her grandpa (they could turn to the exact page in the text where the reader is told outright). And they could name specific chapters that they loved -- one cited "Terrific" because her mom had told her about "old fashioned things" like the "Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific" ad campaign from "a long time ago," another turned right to the chapter, "Big Al" where Sunny leaves the golf course pond in quite a windmilling walk-on-water hurry after meeting the local alligator while salvaging lost golf balls for 25 cents apiece. One girl loved the flashbacks that slowly revealed why Sunny and her family aren't going to the beach house as planned (and I loved her for knowing, as a 10 year-old reader, how Jenni Holm had structured her narrative).

None of the girls read the authors' note in the back of the book, so they had only wondered if maybe this was a true story; they hadn't realized it was memoir until I told them. But I don't think that mattered to their understanding.

If you haven't read this graphic novel,  you simply must. If you haven't listened to the podcast, you simply must. This is an amazing time to be a middle grade reader, and even if you're long past that age, you owe it to your younger self to dive into the books you didn't know you were missing, but that you would have loved. Sunny Side Up is definitely one of those.

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2. Review of Sunny Side Up

holm_sunny side upstar2 Sunny Side Up
by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; 
illus. by Matthew Holm; color by Lark Pien
Intermediate   Graphix/Scholastic   218 pp.
9/15   978-0-545-74165-1   $23.99
Paper ed. 978-0-545-74166-8   $12.99   g
e-book ed. 978-0-545-74167-5   $12.99

Set largely during the summer of 1976, this semiautobiographical graphic novel from the brother-and-sister team behind the Babymouse series includes an amiable grandfather, U.S. bicentennial festivities, and a trip to Disney World — but it is much more than a lighthearted nostalgia piece. Ten-year-old Sunshine “Sunny” Lewin had been looking forward to spending August at the shore as usual, but her parents have suddenly sent her to Florida to stay with “Gramps” instead. Her less-than-thrilling days at the retirement community, complete with early-bird specials and trips to the post office, improve after she befriends the groundskeeper’s son, comics-obsessed Buzz. The two spend their time doing odd jobs for spending money and mulling over age-old superhero dilemmas (“But they’re heroes. Why can’t they save the people they love?”). These discussions, and the series of flashbacks they often elicit, ultimately lead readers to the truth surrounding Sunny’s visit: back home in Pennsylvania, her teenage brother is struggling with substance abuse, and Sunny is convinced that she made the problem worse — a misconception Gramps lovingly corrects. Matthew Holm’s loose, less-is-more cartooning is easy to read and expressive, if occasionally unpolished. Straightforward dialogue, captions establishing time and setting, and extended wordless scenes swiftly propel the narrative and will be appreciated by Raina Telgemeier fans. An affirming author’s note delves further into the Holm siblings’ personal experience with familial substance abuse and encourages young readers sharing a similar struggle to reach out (as Sunny eventually does) to the responsible adults in their lives.

From the September/October 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Sunny Side Up appeared first on The Horn Book.

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3. Cemetery Girl, Book Two: Inheritance by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden

Cemetery Girl: Inheritance
Last year, I devoured the first Cemetery Girl graphic novel, The Pretenders, in one sitting. I am not always "into" stories in which the main character has amnesia - I am impatient and want to know what happened to the character, and I also really wish I could help them/heal them/restore their memories immediately - but the quick pace of this story offered intrigue and action rather than hemming and hawing, plus I liked the full-color illustrations...and I still felt the urge to help the protagonist and learn more about her.

Today sees the release of Book Two in the Cemetery Girl trilogy, Inheritance. Here's the cover summary:

She calls herself Calexa Rose Dunhill. She has been living - hiding out - in Dunhill Cemetery ever since someone left her there to die. She has no idea who wants her dead or why, but she isn't about to wait around for her would-be killer to finish the job.

Despite her self-imposed isolation, Calexa’s ability to see spirits - and the memories she receives from them - guarantees she'll never be alone, even among the deceased. The only living people she allows herself to interact with are Kelner, the cemetery's cantankerous caretaker, and Lucinda Cameron, an elderly woman who lives in an old Victorian house across the street. With their friendship, Calexa has regained a link to the world beyond tombstones and mausoleums.

Until the night she witnesses a murder that shatters her life - a life now under a police microscope - as their investigation threatens to uncover Calexa’s true identity...

Cemetery Girl: Inheritance was written by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden and illustrated by Don Kramer.

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4. Yo-Kai Watch


Ever have a day where nothing goes right? Was it bad luck? Nope! That was the work of the Yo-kai, beings who cause life’s daily annoyances. With the Yo-kai Watch on his wrist, Nate, an average fifth grader, along with his Yo-kai companions Jibanyan and Whisper, can now communicate with the Yo-kai. There’s just one problem – they’re everywhere, and they love to cause mischief!YoKai

The wildly popular Japanese animated comedy series Yo-kai Watch is set to make its U.S. debut on Disney XD. Viewers will be treated to a new episode each day during the premiere week, Monday, October 5 through Friday, October 9, before it begins ongoing weekly debuts on Monday evenings at 5:00 p.m., ET/PT.

Are you an anime fan? Will you be watching? Tell us in the Comments.

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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5. Interview: Marisa Acocella Marchetto’s Ann Tenna and Your Place in the Universe

By Victor Van Scoit Marisa Acocella Marchetto’s name might be most familiar as a cartoonist for the New Yorker or as the author of the acclaimed graphic memoir Cancer Vixen. Her newly released graphic novel Ann Tenna tells the story of Ann Tenna, an influential gossip columnist who because of a freak accident meets her […]

0 Comments on Interview: Marisa Acocella Marchetto’s Ann Tenna and Your Place in the Universe as of 9/12/2015 3:12:00 AM
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6. Through the Woods

cover artI must apologize for not remembering on whose blog I first learned about Through the Woods by Emily Carroll because I owe that blogger a big thank you. Through the Woods is a short story collection like no other I have ever read. Why might that be? It is a book of graphic short stories.

When I got it from the library I didn’t remember about the graphic part of it and I worried that perhaps I had made a mistake. How can you do a book of graphic short stories? Novel, memoir, biography, but short stories? But you know what? It totally works and it is great!

The stories are of the very short and ambiguous kind and they are successful because the art and the text work so well together to move the story along. They have a fairy tale quality to them and they all felt vaguely familiar because of that but they are completely original. They all feature girls or young women. They are about things like a cold snowy winter and dad has to leave his three daughters alone. He tells them if he isn’t back in three days they are to go to the neighbor’s house. Of course he doesn’t return. The eldest daughter refuses to leave, insisting that dad will be back any time. The youngest doesn’t really seem concerned about anything in particular. And the middle daughter, the one telling the story, insists they follow their father’s wishes because if they don’t they will be completely snowed in and without food. And then during the night someone comes to the door and the eldest sister goes with that someone and doesn’t come back. The night after that, the youngest sister goes with the stranger. The middle sister is left all alone. The food is gone. She walks most of the day through the deep snow to the neighbor’s house and…

Another tale is about a father marrying off his beautiful daughter to the richest man in the county. The house is huge and gorgeous but something is not right. Someone keeps her up at night singing a strange song. Her husband tells her she’s hearing things that aren’t there. One night while her husband is away, she goes looking for the source of the song and discovers more than she bargained for.

The art in this book is amazing. Stark, deeply saturated color in a limited palette of black, white, scarlet red and deep blue, creates high contrast and a rich lushness that magnifies the creep factor of the stories. I raced through them all in less than an hour one evening before bed. The final story gave me such chills that I told Bookman if I have any nightmares Through the Woods is at fault.

A perfect RIP Challenge read for sure, but guaranteed excellent for any dark night or stormy afternoon no matter what time of year.

Filed under: Challenges, Graphic Novels, Reviews, Short Stories Tagged: Emily Carroll, fairy tales, RIP Challenge

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7. Our Week in Books: August 31-September 6

Bonny Glen Week in Books Sept 6 2015

Time for another weekly roundup! Here are the books we read alone and together this week.

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke  Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke  Return of Zita the Spacegirl

Zita the Spacegirl, Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke. Read by: Huck, Rilla, and Beanie, all at different times this week.

These graphic novels have wide appeal, as you can see by the range of ages enjoying them at my house—kids ages six through fourteen, this week! One morning this week, I left Huck home with Jane while I took the other kids on an outing. Now, normally Huck would jump at the chance for a whole morning of undivided attention from his big sister, but on this day I returned home to find him sitting on the couch, engrossed in the third Zita book. “The entire time you were gone,” said Jane, answering my inquisitive glance. “He read the whole series, one after the other.” When a six-year-old boy gives up the chance to trounce his grown sister in Mario Kart, you know you’ve got a winning series.

On to picture books. I never manage to track them ALL, because the boys read them in bed at night. You should see the stack on their floor right now. Actually, no you shouldn’t, it’s a mess.

Chester's Way by Kevin Henkes  The Big Green Pocketbook by Candice Ransom and Felicia Bond  Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss

Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes. Read to: Huck.
The Big Green Pocketbook by Candice Ransom, illustrated by Felicia Bond. Read to: Huck.
Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss. Read to: Huck.

I wonder how many times I’ve read The Big Green Pocketbook out loud. It never gets old. And I still always choke up at the end!

Super-Cute Chibis to Draw and Paint- Giant-sized Fun from a Micro-sized World by Joanna Zhou Bake Sale by Sara Varon

Super-Cute Chibis to Draw and Paint: Giant-sized Fun from a Micro-sized World by Joanna Zhou. Enjoyed by: Rilla, Beanie, and me.

Beanie and Rilla have been using this book for inspiration and instruction for at least a couple of years now. Seems like it is ALWAYS out on a desk or table beside a pad of paper. Has to be their favorite how-to-draw resource. I’ve been trying to add more pictures to my bullet journal and I decided (inspired by Sailor Mimzy, XX, and XX on Instagram) to try to design chibi figures for our whole family. Naturally I turned to my resident experts for advice. I’m still a rookie compared to my girls, but I’m getting there.

Bake Sale by Sara Varon. Read by: Rilla.

Another beloved graphic novel. Sara Varon illustrated my friend Cecil Castellucci’s wonderful Odd Duck, a great favorite around here. Bake Sale is a quirky story about friendship. Yes, that’s an eggplant and a cupcake making…cupcakes. Rilla almost missed our Saturday night art date because she didn’t want to put this one down. (I’m seeing an absorbing-graphic-novel trend this week.)

A Child's History of the World Curious George's First Day of School by Margret & H.A. Rey

A Child’s History of the World by Virgil M. Hillyer. Read to: Huck and Rilla.

I guess I didn’t mention this one last week or the week before, but I should have! This is Rilla’s history spine. We read a couple of chapters a week, with Huck listening in—one of our narration texts. This week was the Trojan War.

Curious George’s First Day of School by Margret & H.A. Rey. Read by: Wonderboy.

Sudden Curious George attachment happening here. I expect there will be many more in our roundups, as soon as I get a chance to make a library run.

Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace. Read by: Beanie.

Oh, I just love this book so much. I asked Beanie to reread it as context for our early 20th-century studies. Betsy’s tour of Europe involves a romance in Venice, a long stay in Germany, and a hurried departure for home from England when the Great War begins. The final chapters involve one of my favorite moments in all of literature. I mean that without any hyperbole at all. It’s even better than the end of Pride and Prejudice.

Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. Read by: Wonderboy (in progress).

This book makes the list twice this week! Rilla and I are still listening to the audiobook (below) during our Saturday-night art dates. I pulled out the hard copy to check how much we had left, and Wonderboy wanted to read it. He’s slowly making his way through. Fun fact about the edition pictured here: I’m pretty sure this was the first book I ever wrote cover copy for. :)

Storm Thief by Chris Wooding Vanessa and Her Sister A Novel by Priya Parmar

Storm Thief by Chris Wooding. Read by: me (in progress).

Rose asked me to read this—one of her favorite books. I’m only a chapter in so far, but it’s gripping. I’ll report back later.

Vanessa and Her Sister: A Novel by Priya Parmar. Read by: me (in progress).

My bedtime Kindle reading is this fictionalized tale of Virginia Woolf and her sister, as told by Vanessa. So far: fascinating and fraught. After I finished To the Lighthouse I was hungry for background on Woolf, and I found this in my queue of digital review copies. Perfect timing. More to come on this one too, I’m sure.

Books Continued from Last Week:

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White   Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild audiobook

An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf Don't Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis


Beanie’s lit class (which I teach) finished a two-week discussion of An Old-Fashioned Girl. Alcott is so funny—this is such a heavy-handed, moralistic book, quite preachy in places, with absolutely zero subtlety in its contrast of simple, wholesome, “old-fashioned” ways of bringing up children (especially girls) and the unhealthy “modern” practices she observed in the middle- and upper-middle class East Coast society of her day. And yet…despite the many anvils she drops all over the place, I am drawn in, I get wrapped up in the characters’ ups and downs. My group of 14-year-old girls found much to discuss in the contrasting upbringings of Fanny and Polly, and in the vision Alcott paints of a “future woman”—”strong-minded, strong-hearted, strong-bodied, strong-souled,” she says—envisioning us, the girls and women of generations to come.

Next up for this group: Sarah Orne Jewett.

We’re nearing the end of Charlotte’s Web—too soon, too soon! When we left off, the crickets were singing about the end of summer, and everyone’s preparing for the county fair. “Summer is over and gone,” sang the crickets. Good-bye, summer, good-bye, goodbye!”



books to read with my 9yo  TEXT HERE (2) Books We Read This Week - Here in the Bonny Glen

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8. Sunny Side Up (2015)

Sunny Side Up. Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. 2015. Scholastic. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Sunny Side Up is a graphic novel, a coming-of-age story starring Sunny Lewin. It is set in August 1976. It wasn't Sunny's first vacation choice to go visit her grandfather in Florida. The family had planned on a beach vacation, a vacation where Sunny's best friend could come too. But family troubles--troubles concerning Sunny's older brother--changed everything. Now Sunny is on her own for this trip and visiting her grandfather in his retirement community. Flashes reveal much in this one, readers learn about Sunny's life in Pennsylvania: her friends, her family, and what led to this vacation.

I liked this one. I did. I don't read many graphic novels per year--at most three or four. But I am SO GLAD I read Sunny Side Up. I loved the setting. I love stories featuring grandparents and the senior community. I love the main character, Sunny. I loved, loved, loved how by the end of vacation she had found her voice and REALLY opened up. I also loved that she made a new friend and had a few adventures with someone her own age. I loved that she discovered comic books and super heroes. Some of the pages devoted to her discovering super heroes were among my favorites. And I LOVED the ending.

Overall this one is oh-so-easy to recommend. Even to readers who don't typically read graphic novels.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. Ms. Marvel, No Normal

cover artMs. Marvel Volume 1, No Normal by G. Willow Wilson (story) and Adrian Alphona (artist) made me giddy happy it was so much fun. I completely understand why it won a Hugo Award last week and I am very much looking forward to reading more of the story.

And about that story.

Kamala is sixteen and wishes she were someone else. Her family is Muslim and from Pakistan. She is not allowed to go to parties or go out on dates with boys. Her parents are liberal as far as they can be but even that is too strict for Kamala who wants to fit in and be like everyone else. She loves the Avengers and dreams of being Captain Marvel.

One of the popular girls at school invites her to a beach party and Kamala sneaks out of the house to go only to discover when she arrives that the point of her being there is to serve as the butt of jokes. She runs off and the city is overtaken by a mysterious mist. In the mist Kamala is visited by Iron Man, Captain America, and Captain Marvel. She is granted her wish to be Captain Marvel who tells her that things will not turn out the way she thinks they will.

And it’s true. As Kamala tries to figure out her new super powers and how to use them to help people she often misreads situations and causes more harm than good. But with the help of her best friends, Nakia and Bruno, Kamala learns a few important lessons about friendship, helping others, and being herself. The latter is of course the most important lesson of all because it isn’t until Kamala understands that she can’t be Captain Marvel but only ever herself, everything else comes together. And thus she becomes not Captain Marvel but Ms. Marvel.

By the end of the story she has made a daring rescue and gained a nemesis as well as been grounded by her parents. It’s hard to fight evil when you’re grounded, but I expect Kamala will figure it out.

I’ve never thought of myself as a comic kind of reader and while I enjoy The Avengers films and Agent Carter and Agents of Shield, I have not been especially interested in reading the comics. But Ms. Marvel while on the fringe of the superhero comic world, is her own story that is also outside of all the already known superhero stories. That to me makes it fresh and interesting especially because she is not your average kind of superhero. More fun and adventures ahead!

Filed under: Graphic Novels, Reviews

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10. First Second Books to Launch the Science Comics Series

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11. Girl Power! Graphic Novel Favorites

I have been absolutely devouring graphic novels this summer. Everything from epic adult space sagas, to tales of imaginary unicorns (who occasionally rock leg warmers), and everything in-between has graced my desk this summer. I was very happy to read some stand-out graphic novels for youth that depicted positive female role models, heroines and generally solid lady-centric narratives. Below are a few of my new favorites!

Cleopatra in Space: Book Two- The Thief and the Sword by Mike Maihack; Graphix. 2015. This fun book would be a great choice for the 3rd -6th grade crowd hungry for some sci-fi adventures with a brave heroine. I particularly enjoy the futuristic Egyptian setting. If you have readers who are loved Zita the Spacegirl and are looking for similar graphic novels, be sure to name drop Cleopatra.

Unicorn on a Roll: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure by Dana Simpson; Andrews McMeel Publishing. 2015. Phoebe’s best friend is a unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. If that isn’t enough to make you want to immediately pick this book up and read it, there is an incident referred to as “Boogergate” in this book. Older grade-schoolers will giggle at this gem.

The Baby-Sitters Club: The Truth About Stacey by Raina Telgemeier; Based on the novel by Ann M. Martin; Graphix. 2015. I grew up reading the original Baby-Sitter’s Club stories by Martin and am so excited that one of my favorite youth comic stars, Raina Telgemeier, is adapting those classics for a new generation to enjoy. This second book in the series contains vibrant art, an accessible story and Telgemeier already has a devoted following after her prior hits Drama and Smile. A perfect pick for older school-age and tween readers.

Ms. Marvel: Vol. 3- Crushed  by G. Willow Wilson; Marvel. 2015. Kamala is back for Volume 3 of the new Ms. Marvel and I really can’t say enough good things about this series. I know, I know, you are tired of hearing about how awesome these books are…but seriously read this right away. I’m sure it will become a go-to recommendation for your teen patrons. It’s full of personality, great artwork, a diverse cast and relatable young adult issues amidst the superhero stuff.

I’m a little late to the party on this title, but I recently picked up Lumberjanes: Vol. 1-Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson and it has made me laugh out loud multiple times already and I’m not even to the halfway point! Exclamations like, “What the Joan Jett?” will appeal to young adults (and librarians such as myself) as will the Lumberjanes sarcasm and rad fashion sense.

If you are new to the world of comic books and graphic novels for youth, I urge you to check out the stellar graphic novel booklists ALSC has put together for readers of all ages. They provide great starting points for newbies and can be a nice place to refer to if you aren’t sure what to recommend to interested patrons.

You can find more great resources, like discussion guides, educational information, and booklists from ilovelibraries.org and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.  Extra bonus, if you end up loving Ms. Marvel as much as I do, the CBLDF put together an awesome page for using Ms. Marvel for education that you can access here! Happy reading!


Nicole Lee Martin is a Children’s Librarian at the Rocky River Public Library in Rocky River, OH. You can reach her at n.martin@rrpl.org.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

The post Girl Power! Graphic Novel Favorites appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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12. Our Week in Books: August 16-22



The Curious Garden by Peter BrownThe Curious Garden by Peter Brown. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009. Review copy received from publisher.
Read to: Huck.

Gorgeous art in this sweetly captivating tale of a boy who, wandering the sterile streets of a bleak city, finds a little outpost of thriving weeds and wildflowers on an abandoned elevated rail track. This Is Your Garden by Maggie SmithHe begins quietly tending the green and growing things, and his found garden begins to spread, gradually transforming the city—and its people.

We’ve loved every Peter Brown book that has walked through our doors, and this was no exception. It’s the art that makes it magical, the wave of vibrant green creeping across the city. Makes a lovely companion to an older picture book that has long been a favorite here: This Is Your Garden by Maggie Smith (now out of print, alas, but available used).


Took: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing HahnTook: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn. Clarion Books, to be published Sept. 15, 2105. Advanced review copy received from publisher via Netgalley. Read by: me.

Middle-grade horror story about a (formerly) wealthy Connecticut family who moves into an old West Virginia house near a haunted cabin in the woods. Every fifty years an evil, ancient ghost—known locally as Auntie—kidnaps and ensorcels a young girl. The main character is Daniel, a 13-year-0ld boy who doesn’t believe the wild tales he hears from kids at school—until his little sister goes missing. A suitably creepy tale which will appeal to readers of Vivian Vande Velde’s Stolen.


Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. HarperTrophy. My copy: purchased with my employee discount at the children’s bookstore I worked at during grad school—with a dream in my heart of one day having children to read it to. Read to: Huck and Rilla (chapters 1-4).

After we finished Winnie-the-Pooh, my youngests picked this for their next read-aloud. Great joy is mine because they are the perfect ages (six and nine), just absolutely perfect.

*In related news, I need to add another row to my Rillabooks post. Conversations ensuing its publication resulted in the addition of four more books to her already overstuffed shelf:

Charlotte’s Web (which it turns out she didn’t remember hearing before—she was probably pretty little last time it came around);

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (because OBVIOUSLY, and what was I thinking, leaving it off?);

The Mysterious Benedict Society (which I had thought to save for another year or two, but I am informed I was mistaken); and

The Two Princesses of Bamarre (whose appearance in a photo of books that almost-but-didn’t-quite make the original list sparked a flurry of happy reminiscences among Jane, her 21-year-old cousin, and Alice’s oldest daughter, aged 22, causing me to reconsider its omission).

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg  The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart  The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine


Ginger Pye by Eleanor EstesGinger Pye by Eleanor Estes. Harcourt Young Classics. My copy purchased when Jane was about eight years old. Read to: Rilla. 

This was Rilla’s first read-aloud pick from the Rillabook shelf. She was quite keen to have me read it just to her (no brothers involved). She giggled mightily over the meet-cute of Mr. and Mrs. Pye (with Jane popping in to shriek over the startling fact—which went over her head at age eight—that Mrs. Pye was just seventeen when she married. We began this book the day after Rose’s seventeenth birthday, which put it into stark perspective). Methinks Rilla and I will have fun with this. I’m not sure I’ve read it aloud since that first time (gulp) twelve years ago.


D'Aulaires' Book of Greek MythsD’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths. Read to: Huck and Rilla. Rose’s copy, purchased some years ago to replace her first copy, which was read to tatters. Read to: Huck and Rilla.

Monday and Friday are our Greek Myths days. This week’s selections were about Hera and Io, and Hephaestus and Aphrodite.

The Lion Storyteller Bedtime BookThe Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book by Bob Hartman. Lion Children’s Books. Our copy, purchased for Beanie at age four. Read to: Huck and Rilla.

Tuesday and Thursday are folk and fairy tale days.* This week, they picked “Tortoise Brings Food: A Story from Africa.” A grumble with this otherwise charming book: that nonspecific from Africa. The other stories are “from Greece,” England, Finland, Puerto Rica, Australia, Wales, Japan, and so on. How about “from Kenya” or Ethiopia or Nigeria? Native American stories get a similarly vague treatment: “from North America.” I’d like a word with this book’s editor. But the stories themselves are amiably written and a good size for reading aloud.

*Any day is a great day for a fairy tale or Greek myth. I just assign them days in my head to ensure that I make the time. The kids don’t know about it.


among the dollsAmong the Dolls by William Sleator. Knopf Books for Young Readers. An old copy I brought home from work. Read by: Rilla.

Me: So how do you like it so far?
Rilla, emphatically: I DON’T.

Me: Too scary?

Rilla: It’s terrible! She’s trapped in the dollhouse and they’re being mean to her AND HER MOTHER WALKED RIGHT BY WITHOUT EVEN HEARING HER.

Me: Are you going to keep reading?

Rilla: ::doesn’t hear me, is already immersed again::


The Batman Adventures Rogues' GalleryBatman Adventures: Rogues Gallery by the devastatingly handsome Scott Peterson (oh, fine, and Dan Slott and Ty Templeton too). Read by: Wonderboy.

This is a digest-sized compilation of several Batman Adventures stories. The Batman Adventures and Gotham Adventures comics of the 90s were aimed at kids, unlike most Batman comics. It’s nice to see them a book-sized edition that can survive on a library shelf.

Huck enjoyed this collection too, and it only took him five times through to notice that his daddy was listed as an author.


The Story of the World Vol 4 Modern WorldThe Story of the World, Volume 4: The Modern Ages by Susan Wise Bauer. “The Boxer Rebellion” chapter. Read aloud to: Rose and Beanie.

The Usborne History of the Twentieth CenturyWhile aimed at slightly younger readers, I find the Bauer series to be useful in setting the stage for more advanced studies. We’re doing the 20th century this year, my teens and I.

The Usborne History of the Twentieth Century. Read/explored with: Rose and Beanie. Again, for context. Mostly we just pored over the overview page at the start of the century. We’d read about Teddy Roosevelt last week in Landmark History of the American People, and this week we found a few videos about him.


Boxers by Gene Luen YangBoxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang. First Second Books. Copies received from publisher. Read by: me. On deck for Rose this week. Bean has already read them.

Saints by Gene Luen YangGene is a friend of ours whom we see far too seldom (mainly at SDCC). He is spectacularly talented, but no one on the internet needs me to tell them that. I’d been meaning to read Boxers & Saints, his graphic novel duo about the Boxer Rebellion—told from two different points of view, thus the two books—since the day they were announced. Reaching this time period in my teen’s history studies meant now was the perfect time. Deeply absorbing, unsettling, moving, and educational. I always appreciate Gene’s thoughtful exploration of people’s motivations, and the fearless way he unpacks his characters flaws along with their strengths. Beautiful, beautiful books. Highly recommended.


Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild audiobookDancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. Audiobook. Listened to by: Rilla and me.

The current pick for our Saturday night sketchbook date. After all the Roald Dahl we enjoyed all summer, this Streatfeild gem got off to a bit of a slow start for Rilla, but she’s well and truly hooked now. Hilary is about to perform her Dulcie-Pulsie dance in the talent competition. Pulses racing. Delicious.


Best of H.P. LovecraftThe Best of H.P. Lovecraft. Scott’s copy. Read by: Rose.

Her first encounter with his work. I haven’t heard her reaction yet—looking forward to it.

An Old-Fashioned Girl An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcottby Louisa May Alcott. My old copy. Read by: Beanie. (And I need to revisit it this week.)

A friend of hers is reading it for her homeschool program, so we and some other chums have joined in. We’ll be discussing it soon. I’d better revisit it right quick!


To the Lighthouse by Virginia WoolfTo the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. Kindle copy. Read by: me.

Woolf is one of my gaps, which is odd when I think of it—she’s so right for me. I’m sure we did A Room of One’s Own in women’s lit, but somehow she never appeared on a syllabus after that. I’ve been determined to rectify this glaring omission and this summer I have finally found the time. And OH MY. She’s just…she…I want to quote everything. Her prose—I mean, I knew that about her. But only from the outside. Now I’m inside and I can barely speak. I’ve highlighted so many passages, it’s a bit ridiculous. I’ll pull some quotes into a commonplace book when I can.


Sandman by Neil GaimanT.A. Barron's Merlin novelsScott is rereading Sandman, and I couldn’t begin to tell you what my older girls are reading these days—I can only keep up with so much. Rose got a bunch of T.A. Barron’s Merlin novels for her birthday, I know that. (Since I wrapped them.) 😉 Beanie pops up with interesting tidbits gleaned from National Geographic (her favorite magazine). Jane was toiling through some Kant in preparation for a philosophy class she’ll take at school this year. I’ve also seen some Maggie Stiefvater in her library pile.


Do you know, I thought this would be a quick and easy post? I’d just dash off a list of things read around the house this past week. Turns out I am delusional. But it was fun!


books to read with my 9yo

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13. This summer, I read comics

I've been reading a lot of comics this summer, and it's the greatest.

I just finished Ms. Marvel Vol. 3: Crushed and the series continues to be fun, as was Rat Queens Volume 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'Rygoth. I love to read about girls kicking ass! (See also, Nimona) One thing I really appreciate about Rat Queens and Nimona is that it's fantasy kick-ass fun, but there's underlying basis of pain. It's not always there or the focus of the narrative, but it bubbles up to color the story in a way that's really compelling. (Plus, now I have an excuse to yell I'M A SHARK! and see who laughs--new bestie test)

Oh, and I also read Lumberjanes which I loved for it's kick-ass girls and silliness, but also its friendship and their long-suffering camp counselor. I love these girls as an ensemble and their relationships. FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX for reals.

Also in ongoing series... Fables Vol. 22: Farewell happened. The final Fairest, Fairest Vol. 5: The Clamour for Glamour comes out on Tuesday, but Fables is done. This is the series that turned me onto comics and my feelings about it ending are so bittersweet. I'm going to miss these characters and their stories and their lives and how Willingham played with meta-fiction and what happens when you put fictional characters in the real world. At the same time, the final volume was wonderful. I think it was a fitting tribute and end to the series and, in many ways, it was a farewell. It wrapped up the narrative arc nicely, left some loose ends, but not ones that will drive me batty, and let the characters say goodbye (sometimes very literally). I have been nervous lately because the last few volumes have been a bit of a blood bath, and there is some of that here, too, but... it's good. It's really, really good. My only complaint is that it's done and I very selfishly want more, more, more, more. (Also, I asked my friends at Secret Stacks what I should read to fill the Fables void, and they got Bill Willingham himself to answer and zomg.)

But also, I've been reading some new series!

I read the entirety of Y: The Last Man because Bellwether Friends did an episode about it. I am in love with Saga (which was also a Bellwether recommendation) which is also by Brian K Vaughn, so I thought I'd pick up all the Y before listening to their episode, so I'd be able to better understand. Y is the story of what happens when suddenly, all males (human and animal) drop dead. Except for Yorick and his monkey Ampersand. Science and governments want Yorick, but he just wants to get from New York to Australia where his girlfriend-maybe-fiance was when the gender-cide hit, but it also explores what happens when a gender dies. You get radical feminist movement burning sperm banks, countries that had higher gender equality do better than those who had more men in charge, and also a lot of people in deep morning. Plus little things-- it hit at rush hour so a lot of the highways are clogged with cars and what do you do with that many dead bodies? It was really interesting and good. I like the way it explored the different aspects of this new world as well as all the different theories people had for what caused it. (People have feelings about the ending. It wasn't the ending I necessarily wanted, but I think it was good for the story, if that makes sense. Fangirl Jennie was "eh" but literary critic Jennie was "oh, yes.") Also, let's talk Saga. I've read the four volumes that are out now and so good. It's about love and family and survival against the backdrop of intergalactic war! And their nanny is a ghost. (Basically, star-crossed lovers from opposite sides of this inter-galactic war have a kid and everyone wants them dead because there can't be proof that the two sides can get along and all they want to do is live and survive as a family, but always running puts strain on a relationship!) Also, let's just talk about how the romance novels are also political tracts wrapped in love story, because a romance reader, YES. There is meaning and metaphor and all the other trappings of HIGH LITERATURE in romance (and really, all genre) but it gets written off so often, but not here. That warms my heart.

I've also picked up the first four volumes of East of West. It's this story of a futuristic alternate history US where the country's fractured into several other countries and there's a religious cult and Four Horseman of the Apocalypse are reborn, except for Death, because he's left them for love and it all ties back to this religious cult and a prophesy and it's weird and not quite my usual thing, but really good at the same time.

Also for something amazing, but a little different than my usual fare, Secret Stacks also recommended I check out Pretty Deadly which is also about Death falling in love with a person. But this time it's Death's Daughter who's riding for revenge. And there's a girl in a feather cape and old man who travel from town to town to tell her story. It's hauntingly surreal and I cannot wait for more. (Please tell me there's more!)

What comics are you reading?

Books Provided by... my local library, except for Fables, which I bought.

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14. Rat Queens, Volume Two

cover artA friend of mine and I always laugh because on Tuesdays she generally has a time slip and thinks it’s Wednesday and of course ends up disappointed when she realizes that, no, it’s Tuesday. On Wednesdays I generally do the same thing expect I think it’s Thursday. So she’s decided what we need to do is just have Monday #1, Monday #2, Monday #3, Monday #4, and Friday. This, she believes, will solve the whole problem since nearly every day will be Monday. However, since they are numbered, I know I will think it is Monday #4 when really it’s Monday #3 but I’ll feel worse than I do now because it will be Monday. One Monday a week is enough for me, thanks, and today happens to be this week’s Monday.

So let’s stand clear of deep thinking this evening and have a brief moment over Rat Queens, Volume Two: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth by Kurtis Wiebe, art by Roc Upchurch and Stjepan Sejic. I read the first Rat Queens volume way back in January and as I began volume two I felt a bit wobbly on where the story was. I remembered the big outline but not so much the little details and the book assumed I remembered the details. So we got off to a slightly bumpy start.

No matter though because I was soon swept up in the new story which turned out to be all kinds of fun. The Rat Queens have to defeat a badass dude who has a grudge against their town of Palisade and unleashes some nasty memory and dream-sucking monsters to kill everyone. It’s a nice narrative trick that lets the back stories of a couple of the Rat Queens be told. So we get to find out why Violet the dwarf has shaved off her beard and left home. We discover what is beneath mage Hannah’s odd hairdo. We meet former priestess of N’rygoth Dee’s husband and she gets to work through her religious doubts. Sadly we don’t get much of Betty in this story, though there is a hilarious moment when she has some mushrooms that are a little more than culinary, if you know what I mean.

There is also a tiny moment where we get a glimmer of why these four call themselves the Rat Queens. Rats are harbingers of impending destruction. The Rat Queens are very good at destruction of various kinds.

It’s kind of a relief that the second volume continues the great fun of the first. I expect volume three will do the same. Hopefully the wait for it won’t be terribly long. If you need a little light fun to get you through a week of Mondays, the Rat Queens just might be what you are looking for.

Filed under: Books, Graphic Novels, Reviews

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15. Picturing fantasy

Funny, action-packed, thought-provoking (and sometimes all of the above), these three graphic novels and one…well, what do you call Brian Selznick’s books? take readers on fantastic adventures.

selznick_marvelsBrian Selznick defined his own format with The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck. He pushes the envelope even further in The Marvels. Black-and-white drawings (over four hundred pages’ worth) wordlessly tell the story of a storm, a shipwreck, and a rescue in a theater. In the text narrative that follows, a boy named Joseph runs away from boarding school to his uncle Albert’s house in London, a place that feels strangely from another time. Selznick is a unique and masterful storyteller, and his story-inside-a-story unfolds an emotional narrative that will leave readers marveling. (Scholastic, 10–12 years)

mccoola_baba yaga's assistantIn Marika McCoola’s Baba Yaga’s Assistant, Masha answers a help-wanted ad to become assistant to the mortar-and-pestle-riding, child-eating folkloric character. To win the position, she must creatively accomplish challenges set forth by Baba Yaga. Masha draws on lessons learned through her grandmother’s stories and her own inherited magical ability, uncovering her family’s complex connection to the witch along the way. Illustrator Emily Carroll‘s vividly colored digital art establishes setting and tone. Comprised of short chapters, this graphic novel shines in its pacing, harmony of image and text, and use of flashbacks to advance plot. (Candlewick, 12–14 years)

watson_princess decomposia and count spatulaWith her hypochondriac father taken to his bed, capable Princess Decomposia of the Underworld — star of Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula — is running the show…and running herself ragged. A baker named Count Spatula joins the castle staff, and his nourishing food and supportive demeanor help the princess get through her hectic days. When the king has him fired, the princess must decide whether to stand up to her father. Andi Watson’s unique and funny graphic novelpopulated by friendly creatures of the night — has a decidedly supernatural twist, but at its core is a relatable tale of self-actualization and blossoming romance. (Roaring Brook/First Second, 12–14 years)

stevenson_nimonaBallister Blackheart — ex-knight and current supervillain — is focused on the destruction of the Institute of Law Enforcement and Heroics. He also wouldn’t mind getting even with Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, a knight-school acquaintance who shot off Blackheart’s right arm. Just as Blackheart’s plans are coming to fruition, plucky young shapeshifter Nimona shows up on his doorstep claiming to be his new sidekick. Set in a medieval-type kingdom mixed with futuristic science, Noelle Stevenson’s webcomic-turned-graphic-novel Nimona entertainingly tweaks both the science-fiction and fantasy genres. Nimona herself is beautifully flawed and refreshingly unstereotypical. (HarperTeen, 11–15 years)

From the August 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.


The post Picturing fantasy appeared first on The Horn Book.

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16. TOON at last


Windmill Dragons :A Leah and Alan Adventure by David Nytra is a celebration of the imagination in detailed black and white.  Leah tells Alan a story that starts with windmills that turn into dragons.  Suddenly, Leah and Alan are fighting these monsters.   A giant chicken, St. George, a trick with a bit of string and a man-eating boat lead Alan and Leah on a wild adventure.  Just wait until you see what caused all the ruckus.
    Nytra adds an illustrated bibliography of sorts to help his readers understand some of the literary references in this wild and crazy comic book.

The Suspended Castle : a Philemon Adventure  by FRED.  OK. Philemon and his adventures make me itchy.  But if you enjoy the surreal, you will love Philemon.  Back in the 1960s, Philemon fell down a well and into a land that was shaped like an "A".  With the help of Mr. Bartholomew, Philemon got back to France.
     Now, Mr. Bartholomew is so bored, he wants to return to his life on a letter in the middle of the ocean (on a globe - you know one those spinning things?  I told you - surreal! Or maybe it was on a map.)  Thank goodness, Phil's Uncle Felix knows what to do.  You see, he just gets Phil to inflate this seashell....
     Well, Bartholomew and Phil both end up on the dot on the letter "i" and from there it just gets wilder and crazier - with owls that turn into lighthouses and whales with oars and mutinies and buccaneers who sail the skies in wooden pelican bills - or something - and of course, the suspended castle from the title.
   The artwork is colorful and suitably cartoonish.  The last two pages gives a bio of Fred (Frederic Othon Aristides) and background on his inspirations for this story. 

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17. Sex Criminals, Volume Two

cover artThe first volume of Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky was kind of quirky, fun and original. Jon and Suzie can both stop time when they orgasm. They each think they are the only one. They meet and what fun when they can stop time together. Suzie’s library is being foreclosed on by the bank where Jon works. They decide to “raise” the money by stopping time and robbing the bank. Except it turns out there are sex police, or at least three people who say that’s what they are. The robbery foiled and the police barely evaded, Jon and Suzie find themselves angry and confused.

In Sex Criminals Volume Two, Two Worlds One Cop, Jon and Suzie discover they can be tracked. They become paranoid and pretty much cease having sex. And then their relationship begins to fall apart. Jon sees the head of the sex police at the bank and finds out her real name and address and decides to break into her house. It does not go well. He also discovers one of the other members of the police is a very wealthy man who invests a lot of money through the bank. And suddenly the grace period the bank had given the library is revoked and the bank immediately forecloses and knocks down the library. But they discover another person who can also stop time and has met the “police.” They form a plan. What that plan is we really don’t know because that’s pretty much where this volume ends.

It also ended with me feeling pretty meh about this whole series and doubting that I will even bother with volume three whenever it should be published. After the novelty of the first volume you have to double down and really make an effort to have a good and interesting story because, well, the novelty has worn off. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the story all that interesting. I still don’t know who the sex police are or what they are doing since they aren’t really police at all. The story introduces a couple of new characters and tries to do some character development particularly with Jon, but it just didn’t work for me. When the best thing about the book is the “extras” at the end, I have to say the series is no longer that interesting for me.

And how about those extras? The “Sex Tips” were laugh out loud funny and I kept interrupting Bookman to read them to him. Here is one of my favorites:

Shower sex is great because you can fantasize that you’re having sex out in the rain, but the rain is hot because these are the End Times.


There’s really nothing else to be said about this one.

Filed under: Books, Graphic Novels, Reviews Tagged: Chip Zdarsky, Matt Fraction

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18. SDCC ’15 Interview: Mariko Tamaki talks about “This One Summer”

Mariko Tamaki

Mariko Tamaki

By Nick Eskey

Mariko Tamaki is a Canadian born artist of mixed Japanese and Jewish descent. In school she studied literature and writing, later on publishing the book “Cover Me,” as well as graphic novels “Skim” and “Emiko Superstar.”  Her recent work is another graphic novel entitled “This One Summer.” Jillian Tamaki, Mariko’s cousin, did the illustrations for both this novel and for “Skim.”

“This One Summer” gives a glimpse into the life of two young girls as they spend one summer at a cottage by the beach. We get to see them learn and experience new things, as well as see the contrast between lives of adults and kids. During this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, I got to sit down and talk about this book with writer Mariko Tamaki. Unfortunately, Jillian could not attend.

The First Second booth at San Diego Comic-Con 2015

The First Second booth at San Diego Comic-Con 2015

How long have you been doing comics?

The first comic I did was with Jillian. It was a mini-comic called “Skim.” I believe it was the early summer of 2008 I did the first mini-comic for a literary magazine in Canada called “Kiss Machine.” So… this woman, Emily Pulari, commissioned these mini-comics from women who never really had a lot of experience with comics. So we did a mini-comic through that. It’s kind of like a “test case.” Kind of like a low pressure to try something out. So we did the mini-comic of “Skim,” and that got purchased by “Groundwood Books.” And that was our first graphic novel together. That was my first work in comics.

ThisOneSummer2Did you ever think you’d get into comics?

I had no aspirations to work in comics. But I always really liked working on collaborations. I’ve actually done a lot of theatre, and I’ve done a lot of performance art, which for me was like a more accessible version of theatre. So I’ve done a lot of actors work, and a lot of work in sort of feminist collectives and stuff. I was really into the idea of working with another artist than I was in comics per say. But I would say now that I’ve done comics, I think that they’re just an incredible medium for telling stories. The way that stories get told in my experience in comics is that it opens opportunities to tell [them] in so many different angles.

What were some of your ideas for writing this story?

I grew up in Northern Ontario, Canada. And every summer, you went to the cottage. So it was this like solid, integral part of my childhood… When it comes to comics, especially with this one, I thought of the atmosphere. I felt the background would be a good setting for a story. And I’m also kind of obsessed with transitional moments. So for me, the idea of being these young girls, and having this chunk of their lives, and analyzing that part, and all the sort of changes that would happen, even if [those changes] were all going to be during this one summer of their lives… it was something I wanted to show.

Would you say this mirrors any of your life?

Well I use to go to the cottage, but I didn’t have any of those challenges. I used some things as a beginning point, and created something fictional from that. Obviously I was a young girl at the cottage, and I had the fat young friend there too, but the characters are not really that connected to my life. The experiences that they have are not my experiences, aside from the fact that I also did go to Saint Joseph in Huron, which is the park that they go to in the book. Actually, Jillian and I as part of our research (that’s what we call it, “research”), went to Saint Joseph in Huron, went to the cottage, and spent a week in Nova Scotia which is I think one of the best places to write a book.

I think the dialogue is very down to Earth, and very easy to relate to. Is there anything that was hard for you to talk about?

During the initial draft, it was sort of a struggle to write the character of the mother because it’s hard to write somebody who’s not talking about what’s bothering them. And I think that’s so much of what Jillian brought to that character in terms of the details. Even the t-shirts that the mom wears have all these details that kind of build up that character. And we sort of went back and re-edited [her] a lot, because who wants to read about this upset mom who’s just having a bad day? I think that’s like the archetype of the “pissed-off-mom” from like ancient times on. And we wanted to see the layers of that experience. That was a really challenging thing to write, and it ended up being one of the more intriguing stuff. For whatever reason, the writing for Wendy and Rose was for me kind of easy. Their banter was just fun and easy, and it’s hard to write for someone that’s just not pleasant… it’s hard to lovingly write that.


The kids seemed to be able to live in the moment, where the older characters were concerned with other things. How was it to show that dynamic of the two?

My archetype for stuff like that has always been the “Roseanne” show. It’s about the kids, and it’s about the adults. And the problems of the kids are not entirely linked to the adults, but their completely meshed. It’s like you have these people in this microcosm and their like push-pull on each other, where they’re struggling with the same struggles. So for me, I think it’s that kind of step forward from “Skim” to this book. That challenge of really creating a story that’s not just about the kids in this little bubble; to see these layered connections between the kids in the town, these kids in their respective homes, and all other different relationships. To me some of the most interesting scenes are the ones were something of the adults reverberate to the kids; their parents get into a fight, and that trickles down from the parents and then to the kid. And I think that sort of chain reaction is a super interesting one… It’s great to see someone on an adventure, fighting for their family or what have you, but at the same time most of our reality as teenagers is connected to our parents.

It really is interesting seeing these kids’ “bubbles” being formed and shaped by their parents.

It’s like a book about trying to be an adult, just as much for the adults as it is for the kids. These parents are trying to be adults, they’re trying to do the right thing. These teenagers are trying to be adults. And it’s all these varying groups of people that have this notion of what it means to be a grownup, and that depressing challenge of it being out of your reach.

Have you found yourself open to other avenues because of your exposure to graphic novels?

I ended up doing this short film called “Happy Sixteenth Birthday Kevin,” which is a movie about a sixteen year old Goth boy, but the cast is like me and my 30 year old friends. So I did that, because comics showed me how much I love dialogue, and I try to incorporate that as much as I can in the work that I’m doing.

“This One Summer” is available now. You can buy it online, or at your local book store.

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19. Z2 expands with fall GN line, including Abaddon, Pawn Shop and Ashes

Z2 Comics just made news last week with a new line of periodicals, and here’s their fall graphic novel line, courtesy of Publishers Weekly. The slate includes a collection of Koren Shadmi’s awesome webcomic THE ABADDON, as well as a new edition of Cleveland by Harvey Pekar and Joseph Remnent, and print editions of two Kickstarted projects: ASHES: A FIREFIGHTER’S TALE by Mario Candelaria and Karl Slominski; and PAWN SHOP by Joey Esposito and Sean Von Gorman.

“With the addition of three new books to Z2 Comics, the return of Harvey Pekar’s CLEVELAND to print and the recently announced launch of the Z2 Comics periodical line, this year promises to be our most ambitious yet. And it’s just the beginning,’ said publisher Josh Frankel.

The Eisner-nominated Cleveland was previously distributed by Top Shelf, but has sold out of its 10,000 copy initial print run, Frankel told PW.


We’ve admired The Abaddon (above) here at the Beat many times before; it’s gorgeous and getting it in a nice print edition is a real treat.

Here’s the full Z2 line-up:


ASHES: A FIREFIGHTER’S TALE written by Mario Candelaria with art by Karl Slominski.
(September 22, 2015; $19.99; 120 pages; black and white)

Matt always had an easygoing life. Girls liked him, his friends were more like family, and being a firefighter came naturally. Then the accident happened. Now, after the loss of his leg, Matt struggles to cope with his new handicap as he attempts to rebuild his shattered family and once budding career. A riveting tale about perseverance, hard work, and overcoming the odds, ASHES is a gripping tale told in stunning black and white.

PAWN SHOP written by Joey Esposito with art by Sean Von Gorman
(September 22, 2015; $19.99; 120 pages; full color)

A widower. A nurse. A punk. A Long Island Railroad employee. New York City is an ecosystem where everybody is connected, if only by the streets they walk on. This original graphic novel is the story of four people, in a city of eight million, whose lives unknowingly intersect through a Manhattan pawn shop.
Written by Joey Esposito (Footprints) and illustrated with a gorgeous mixture of watercolor and digital elements by Sean Von Gorman (Toe Tag Riot), PAWN SHOP explores the big things that separate us and the little moments that inexplicably unite us.


THE ABADDON written and illustrated by Koren Shadmi
(November 10, 2015; $24.99; 240 pages; full color)

Loosely based on Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, THE ABADDON is the story of a young man who finds himself trapped in a bizarre apartment with a group of ill-matched roommates. He discovers that his new home doesn’t adhere to any rational laws of nature and comes to realize that everyone living in the apartment is missing crucial parts of their memories and identities.

CLEVELAND by Harvey Pekar and Joseph Remnant
(November DATE TK; Price TK; 128; black and white)

A lifelong resident of Cleveland, Ohio, Harvey Pekar (1939-2010) pioneered autobiographical comics, mining the mundane for magic since 1976 in his critically acclaimed series American Splendor. Legendary comic book writer Harvey Pekar’s collaboration with artist Joseph Remnant, titled CLEVELAND, was originally published by Top Shelf Shelf Comics and Zip Comics in 2012 and includes an introduction by Alan Moore. The book presents key moments and characters from the city’s history, intertwined with Harvey’s own ups and downs, as relayed to us by Our Man and meticulously researched and rendered by artist Joseph Remnant. At once a history of Cleveland and a portrait of Harvey, it’s a tribute to the ordinary greatness of both.

Disclosure: Just to be upfront, Z2 and The Beat have partnered on several events in the past, and they are an occasional client of my consulting company.

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20. Thrilling! Adventures! Fun!

cover artI have been waiting my turn in the library holds queue quite some time for The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. It is a graphic novel by Sydney Padua. I’ve just begun it and it is so much more than I ever could have hoped for.

It is not your average graphic novel. There is as much text as there are pictures. There are footnotes. There are endnotes. The art is great and the whole thing is absolutely bonkers and laugh out loud funny.

Don’t know who Lovelace and Babbage are? Charles Babbage invented the first computer but for various reasons mostly to do with Babbage, it never got built. Ada Lovelace is the daughter of Lord Byron and the first computer programmer. Lovelace died at age thirty-six. Babbage lived to be a crotchety old man.

After writing a story about Lovelace and Babbage, Padua thought it a real shame the computer never got built and the pair didn’t get to work together for very long. So she went all wibbly wobbly timey wimey and discovered a pocket universe where Lovelace and Babbage built the computer, have thrilling adventures, and, of course, fight crime, because why not? The first adventure has to do with the person from Porlock.

As I said, I have not read much but what I have read has been pure delight and I couldn’t keep it to myself until I finished. So I am telling you about it now. Check your library. If they have the book, get yourself on the list for it. Now. Go. No dilly-dallying.

Filed under: Books, Graphic Novels, In Progress Tagged: Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage

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21. Annual 2015: Graphic Novels, Comics, and San Francisco

This is a guest post from Trevor Calvert, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for ALA 2015 in San Francisco.

San Francisco is a literary city and as such a wealth of comic book stores merit a visit if you are eager to experience some of SF’s comic-book culture. Every year SF hosts the Alternative Press Expo highlighting local creators, and even has a Comic Art Museum which showcases both classics Golden Age shows all the way to hosting local-artist workshops. So let’s pack a light sweater (or maybe a cape?) and walk over to a few of these awesome spots!

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Our first stop is Isotope: The Comic Lounge; not only is the design of the store sweet, the comic selection great, but you can stop by it’s lounge--the first of its kind--where you can relax, put your feet up, and feel free to read some sequential narratives from their on-site library. If that isn’t enough to draw you in, its Special Project Director, Kirsten Baldock, is an Oakland Public librarian! Also, the owner is both a real person and a comic character.
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As we continue our journey, brave adventurers, let’s visit Mission Comics and Art. Proprietor Leef Smith knows a lot about comics. He also knows a lot about San Francisco, has traveled the world, and has a passion for fine art. These facets help make his Mission Comics a definite on your list of places to visit.  From his site:

“Leef’s intention is for “Mission: Comics & Art” to help facilitate a greater cross-pollution between the worlds of fine art and commercially produced sequential art i.e. comic books, re-contextualizing both and creating a new community focal point, both locally in the neighborhood, and in the larger artistic world.”

That his store is in the Mission district should not be overlooked: the Mission is a fantastic area in which to wander around, eat delicious food, and see some of the best San Francisco has to offer. If on Friday at 7:30 you are looking for something to do, Mission Comics is hosting writers Jeff Parker, Mike Tanner and Jef Burandt--all with new books with Oni Press!

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 8.45.25 AMIf your travels take you to the Castro district, be sure to check out Whatever: Get Your Geek On. They’re known not only for their great comic collection, but for their collectibles and figure collection. They’ve been around since 2006 and have a super friendly staff and, despite their non-committal store-name, completely love what they do.

While this store is not named after this famous aardvark in comics, it does reference the animal, so can be none other than Aardvark Books, home of Owen the Cat and countless used and new books (mostly hardcover). And while this is not a comic book store, it’s been open since 1978 and much beloved by many. Aardvark’s staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and if wandering a good bookstore (because they’re not classified in DDC or LCS) and petting friendly cats is your thing, then this is a must.

There are so many great bookstores, comic or otherwise, in San Francisco: Green Apple Books, City Lights, Booksmith, Borderlands (one of the best Science Fiction / Horror / Fantasy stores around--and in the Mission!) just to list a small few (not to mention across the bridge in Oakland). If you have the time, checking out the local bookstores (and maybe a few watering holes along the way) is one of the best ways to see this city. Be intrepid, curious, and inspired!


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22. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

cover artWhen I began reading The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua, I did something I usually don’t do. I posted how great the book is and how everyone needed to, right then and there, request a copy from the library or buy one of their own. Now that I have actually finished it, I still stand by that assertion.

The book is a graphic novel like no other I have read (which is more than some and less than a good many). Sure the stories are told with great black and white drawings, some of them very detailed like the visual explanation in the appendix of how the Analytical Engine would have worked if it were ever built. Wait, appendix? A graphic novel with an appendix? Yup. And that is just one way this book is different. It also has footnotes and endnotes. In fact, the graphic part of it is almost beside the point. To be sure, the graphics tell a story, but the real action, where all the fun and humor is, is in the footnotes and endnotes. Crazy!

Padua has clearly done extensive research, she even got a scholarly slam dunk by finding a letter in an obscure archive somewhere that settled a dispute about just how much Ada Lovelace had to do with Babbage and maths and the Analytical Engine and computer programming (a lot!). Booyah! And Padua clearly enjoys her subjects as well, expressing great knowledge and affection for them and all their quirks and foibles.

Since Lovelace died when was 36 and the Analytical Engine was never built, Padua takes liberties with the story, moving the pair to a pocket universe in which Ada lives and the Engine is built. Still, she remains true to certain biographical events, even quoting them directly at times in the stories. When she veers far off course there is a handy footnote to tell us so.

I say stories because that is what these are, short stories in graphic form. So we have a story about the Person from Porlock, one in which Lovelace and Babbage meet Queen Victoria and give her a demonstration of the Analytical Engine. Except the Engine crashes, (even when computers were only theoretical there were provisions for what to do when they crashed) and Ada runs off to fix it and save the day while Babbage bores the Queen with stories about how great he is. The Queen, not understanding why the Engine is a useful thing is losing interest until Lovelace’s programming produces a picture of a cat. Heh. Cats and computers belong together apparently. We meet George Boole whose Boolean logic will be familiar to both computer geeks and librarians. And there are often hilarious run-ins with many other famous personages.

One that a good many of you will be familiar with is George Eliot. She and Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Thomas Carlyle and others are summoned for a “mandatory spell-check” of their most recent manuscripts. Lovelace really did theorize that the Analytical Engine should be able to analyze symbols as well as crunch numbers. Eliot’s manuscript gets fed into the Engine but it being her only copy she immediately changes her mind. Thus follows a long pursuit through the workings of the Engine to try and get the manuscript back. But horror of horrors, the Engine uses “destructive analysis” and the manuscript gets ripped to shreds! And then it crashes the Engine. The huge joke at the end of this is that there had been a tussle at the beginning and Eliot and Carlyle got their manuscripts mixed up and it is actually Carlyle’s manuscript on the history of the French Revolution that is destroyed. In real life Carlyle’s manuscript was indeed destroyed. He had given it to his friend John Stewart Mill to read. The only copy. Mill left it sitting out and the servants thought it was waste paper and used it for starting fires. Oops. Carlyle had to rewrite the who book, but personally, from what I have actually read about the incident in other places, it was probably for the best because the rewrite by accounts was better than the original. Still, Carlyle was devastated and I don’t remember if he and Mill continued to be friends afterwards.

Anyway, this is a right fun book. Babbage and Lovelace were real characters even before they were fictionalized in a pocket universe. If you would like a taste of the book including a few stories that didn’t make it in, there is a website! The Science Museum of London also built Babbage’s Difference Engine, the precursor to the Analytical Engine, in 1991 and because of the magic of the internet, you can watch a video demonstration:

Is that thing ever loud!

If you are looking for something fun, geeky, madcap and sometimes just plain silly, you can’t go wrong with The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage.

Filed under: Books, Graphic Novels, Reviews Tagged: Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, George Eliot, madcap adventures, Thomas Carlyle

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23. Sailor Twain

Sailor Twain

Mark Siegel, editorial director and founder of Macmillan’s graphic novel–only imprint First Second Books

also author/illustrator of Moving House

illustrator of several picture books (Seadogs by Lisa Wheeler, Long Night Moon by Cynthia Rylant) and another graphic novel for children (Boogie Knights by Lisa Wheeler)

my first introduction to Siegel was To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel, his wife Siena Cherson Siegel’s memoir of her experiences as a preprofessional student in the School of American Ballet.

With Sailor Twain: Or, The Mermaid in the Hudson (First Second, October 2012), Seigel

surreal magical realism

hefty graphic novel

Captain Twain, captain of a steamboat on the Hudson River, rescues a harpooned mermaid and nurses her back to health.



The post Sailor Twain appeared first on The Horn Book.

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24. The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature, Edited by Russ Kick | Book Review

Part of the remarkable Graphic Canon Series, The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature brings together a diverse range of contemporary writers and illustrators who give their own take on well-known works from an international selection of children’s literature.

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25. SDCC ’15: Barnes & Nobles doubles size of graphic novel sections




I don’t have time to do much more than copy the PR on this but…great news for the physical book side of the business, which continues to grow against all odds. And check out the factors that are fueling the growth.

Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the nation’s largest retail bookseller and the leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products, today announced that it has expanded its selection of Graphic Novels and Manga to double the size at all stores nationwide.  The company said the expansion is due to strong customer demand and the growing popularity of these genres. The expanded section features eye-catching signage on bookshelves that directs customers to series and characters they’ll want to know more about, making for easier browsing and discovery.


“Barnes & Noble has seen tremendous growth in Graphic Novels and Manga in recent years, which is why we’re so excited to be able to roll out an expanded selection for our customers to explore at all stores nationwide,” said Mary Amicucci, Vice President, Adult Trade and Children’s Books. “Featuring eye-catching signage and top picks displays that highlight key series and characters, the expanded selection will not only meet the growing demand from fans, but will also drive discovery among new customers that may not have been familiar with Graphic Novels and Manga in a way that only Barnes & Noble can do.”


The newly expanded selection is perfectly timed with this year’s Get Pop-Cultured with Barnes & Noble campaign, which will celebrate Graphic Novels and Manga with events and promotions including DC Comics Days (July 8-12), Manga Mania (July 19) and Fangirl Friday (July 24). During DC Comics Days, customers can get an incredible special offer of buy two get the third free on all DC Comics Graphic Novels through Sunday, July 12. For more information on Get Pop-Cultured with Barnes & Noble, visit www.bn.com/getpop-cultured.


Keys Facts About the Expanded Graphic Novels and Manga Selection at Barnes & Noble:

  • Barnes & Noble has achieved growth in Graphic Novels and Manga sales over the last 10 years, with a significant surge in customer demand over the last few years. This expansion is a direct result of this rapidly growing demand.
  • All Barnes & Noble stores across the country have doubled the space dedicated to Graphic Novels and Manga.
  • This doubling in space gives Barnes & Noble the opportunity to continue to meet the rapidly growing demand for Graphic Novels and Manga by:

o   Increasing the selection of new releases.

o   Keeping backlist books on the shelves longer.

o   Driving sales through eye-catching signage that highlights series and characters for customers to discover, through improved organization of books alphabetically by series for easy browsing and discovery, and through a permanent promotional space to feature top picks in Graphic Novels and Manga, highlighting bestsellers, new releases, can’t miss characters, must-read series, and more.


Jim Killen, Buyer at Barnes & Noble, added: “As a fan, I’m excited by the dynamic changes in the genres including raised levels of artistic talent reacting to and engendering a shift in the readership and the maturing of the category and its new voices and artists and the stories they tell. As a bookseller, I’m thrilled about the opportunity to introduce new people to the medium of Graphic Novels and Manga.”


Graphic Novels and Manga are two genres that independent readers of all ages are coming to and the increased interest is driven by new readers. These new readers are discovering Graphic Novels and Manga for many reasons, including publishers recognizing the growing diversity of new audiences, the growth of new channels like digital comics and online webcomics, as well as events, comic conventions, book festivals, social media buzz and media exposure through movies, TV series and web series. Additionally, the popularity of the Fangirl movement is driving growth among females with titles like Ms. Marvel, The Walking Dead and Saga presenting heroes for this audience.


Top Graphic Novels series at Barnes & Noble include Batman (DC Comics), Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy(Marvel Comics), Walking Dead and Saga (Image Comics), and the characters that are currently trending at stores nationwide include Batman, Ms. Marvel (Marvel Comics), Suicide Squad (DC Comics), Deadpool and Flash (DC Comics). Bestsellers include Civil War (Marvel Comics), Batman: The Killing Joke and Watchmen (DC Comics), Walking Dead Compendium, Volume 1 (Image Comics) and Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal (Marvel Comics).


Leading the way in Manga series are Attack on Titan (Kodansha), Naruto (Viz), Assassination Classroom (Viz), Fairy Tail(Kodansha) and Blue Exorcist (Viz), with new and hot-selling titles including Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 1 (Viz), Big Hero 6 (Yen Press), Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Vol. 1 (Yen Press), Assassination Classroom, Vol. 1 (Viz) andSeraph of the End, Vol. 1 (Viz).

Customers should visit their local Barnes & Noble to discover and shop all of these great titles and much more in the expanded selection of Graphic Novels and Manga today.

2 Comments on SDCC ’15: Barnes & Nobles doubles size of graphic novel sections, last added: 7/10/2015
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