Sweet Blue Flowers, vols. 1-3 by Takako Shimura
Publication Dates & ISBNs:
Vol. 1 – September 9, 2017 – 978-1421592985
Vol. 2 – December 19, 2017 – 978-1421592992
Vol. 3 – March 20, 2018 – 978-1421593005
Estranged childhood best friends, Akira and Fumi run into each other on their first day of high school, and at first, it seems just like old times with Akira helping the timid Fumi face her social anxieties. Yet, high school is more complicated than elementary school, and relationships prove to be confusing for both of them. When Fumi begins dating the most popular girl at her school, Akira struggles with what it means for two girls to like each other “in that way” and how she can continue to support her friend.
Sweet Blue Flowers is an exploration of the complex emotions arising from both platonic and romantic relationships. Akira, Fumi, and their friends struggle to understand the difference between what they want and what they need from the people around them, and they often find that there are no clear answers. Although the characters struggle with the ambiguity of their many relationships, they are able to find resolution by accepting their choices and trusting in each other. Deceptively simple looking, Sweet Blue Flowers offers readers an in-depth exploration of what it means to love in numerous ways, the give and take necessary for successful relationships, and the pain that occurs from ending unhealthy relationships with people you love.
Recommended for fans of Shimura’s previous work, Wandering Son, and readers looking for realistic, slice of life manga featuring young teens.
Silver Spoon, vol. 2 by Hiromu Arakawa
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Hachiken surprised everyone by switching from a regular academic school to Ooezo Agricultural High School, even though he knows nothing about agriculture. His fish out of water adventures continue in volume 2, where he gets roped into fixing up an old pizza oven and making pizza for the whole school. He then finds himself spending the summer break working at his friend’s farm. He learns about the physical and economic challenges of farming, and also to respect his classmates lives even more.
This series continues to realistically depict the challenges and rewards of farm life. Story elements like butchering animals and noting the differences between a friend’s small struggling farm, and another’s huge, successful farm is shown in a tasteful way without pulling punches. Plot points like Hachiken making effort to do farm chores well, finding value in the farm lifestyle he initially underestimated and stereotyped, enforces positive values such as keeping an open mind, not stereotyping others, and the value of hard work.
Readers will also learn a lot about cooking and farming from this book. Did you know you can use Gouda instead of mozzarella on a pizza? Or that calves sometimes get stuck during birth and need to be pulled out by humans with ropes. This series continues to present complex characters in a realistic and fun farm setting. Great for fans of school manga like Again!!
Runaways: Find Your Way Home, vol. 1 by Rainbow Rowell
Publication Date: May 01, 2018
The Runaways used to be a family, but now they’ve gone their separate ways…which is why Nico is shocked to suddenly have Chase and Gert appear in her apartment via time travel. This is an even more shocking development for Gert, who’s been dead for the past few years. A lot has happened since she’s been gone, but to Gert, it feels like just a few minutes have passed. Suddenly, her boyfriend is an adult and her friends barely speak to each other, but Gert is determined to get the band back together, even though Karolina’s in college, Victor’s…been unwell, and Molly’s living with her grandmother. But do these heroes have something to unite them, or is running away the only thing they’ve ever had in common?
Written by Rainbow Rowell (in her first Marvel turn), and illustrated by Kris Anka, this series boasts a fantastic story and excellent art. Though there are several characters to get to know here, this is a great introduction to superhero team books, because all of these characters are interesting and well-developed. In addition to being at different stages of being teens–some are older, some are younger–every Runaway is dealing with how to use their powers (or lack thereof), and trying to decide what they want to be in the future. Fans of the Runaways TV show, the original graphic novels, or Rowell’s other books will enjoy this series.