Graphic Novels and Comics to Enjoy for Black History Month — or anytime!

Thanks to YALSA member Annierra Matthews, a Research Services Librarian at Mercer University, for compiling this collection of excellent graphic novels and comics featuring Black characters and/or produced by Black creators. Click here for the fiction collection she curated earlier this month.


Bingo Love by Tee Franklin, Jenn St.-Onge, Joy San, and Genevieve FT

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin, Jenn St.-Onge, Joy San, and Genevieve FT: Hazel and Mari fall in love with each other at church bingo in ’63. Torn apart by others around them, they can’t be together. Years later, they meet again at bingo and find the bravery to share their love with the world.

Continue reading Graphic Novels and Comics to Enjoy for Black History Month — or anytime!

Books to Ease the Winter Blues

Depending on what part of the world you inhabit, the beginning of February might find you suffering from the winter blahs. Some call it the Jan-Febs; others are just so tired of the slush and the cold and the wind (and the pandemic!) that traps them indoors; still others battle the very real SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Even those libraries blessed with year-round good weather have patrons that could use a moment of joy, so let this be our subtle suggestion for the creation of a happiness corner — maybe install a light therapy fixture, add some bubbles or balloons, maybe even rent a puppy? And, of course, books that are guaranteed to bring a smile and remind that stressed-out teen of the kid they still are. From comics to picture books, these titles will be sure to bring a smile.

Maybe your teens are already familiar with Nathan W. Pyle’s Strange Planet series? If not, remedy that error forthwith!! These alien creatures do their best to describe their interactions with the new and fascinating things of Earth, and they never fail to bring a laugh. Or 100.

Strange Planet by Nathan W. Pyle
Continue reading Books to Ease the Winter Blues

Nerds in Love: Book Recommendations

It’s March, and I’m getting ready for C2E2, one of Chicago’s best pop-culture conventions. Whether you prefer the term nerd, geek, fanboy/girl, or pop culture enthusiast, 2019 is an excellent time to proclaim your love for things once stigmatized as being not cool, from playing Dungeons & Dragons to cosplaying as your favorite anime character to writing fanfiction of your favorite TV shows. YA authors and publishers are not immune to the geek chic trend; in Publisher’s Weekly May, 2017 article, “In the Age of Conventions, YA fans rule” they argue that the rise of novels with “plots that feature fandom, cons, and cosplay” is inevitable as authors interact more and more online and in person with their fans. In the novels that follow, fellow nerds find friendship and even love in comic book shops, at conventions, and while playing MMORPGS (for the uninitiated, that’s massively multiplayer online role-playing games).

Continue reading Nerds in Love: Book Recommendations

Some Thoughts on “Real Reading”

read-all-the-thingsI am sure I am not the only librarian who has repeatedly heard the phrase “real reading.” Whether I am in the midst of a readers’ advisory interview with a parent who insists that audiobooks are not “real reading,” or whether I’m meeting someone new in a social setting who proudly tells me they never read e-books because that’s not “real reading” and being a librarian I must agree with them, I always cringe at the phrase. I have no problem with readers having a particular preference. Everybody has their own inclinations towards specific formats. What bothers me is the complete lack of exposure that youth may suffer due to a parent’s bias against particular formats, or readers of any age feeling inferior and self-conscious about something as individualized and personal as a reading choice.

As library workers, I don’t believe it is our place to promote any format over another, but I do feel that we should provide our patrons exposure and access to as many formats as possible and strive to validate all reading preferences. Below are some topics that often incite the dreaded phrase “real reading.” I hope that by sharing some of my own experiences, I can either encourage you to broaden your reading horizons or at least give you and, by extension, the patrons you serve, something to think about. Continue reading Some Thoughts on “Real Reading”

Back-to-School Comics for Tweens

I know, I KNOW. It’s only the middle of August. It doesn’t feel like it’s time to go back to school.

And for lots of districts, it’s not.

But for huge swatches of the South and the Midwest, it’s happening this week or next week. It’s so early, it’s so hot. The kids are so cranky (I would be, too, if I had to go back to school so soon!)

What’s the solution?

COMICS.

Here are some great, recent comics/graphic novels to give to your kids. Throw these up on a display, handsell them, or stealthily slide them across your circ counter. Your tweens will thank you.

GothamAcademy1Gotham Academy Volume 1 by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl. Do your kids love Batman? This comic is set in a prestigious prep school right in the heart of Gotham. With great supporting characters, secrets, and possibly a ghost, this hits all the superhero buttons. The mysterious Wayne family might even make an appearance…

Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll just came out last week. It’s a bit spooky but not outright scary. Masha needs some adventure so when Baba Yaga advertises for an assistant, she decides to try it out. But she has to be clever and wily enough to earn her place.

oddly_normalOddly Normal by Otis Frampton – Image Comics just reprinted this with a new cover. It’s INCREDIBLY fun. Oddly is a half-witch and having a mother from Fignation isn’t always a walk in the park. It’s even less fun when her parents disappear and she has to go live in Fignation. She’s the only being in the whole world that’s even remotely human. Hijinks ensue.

BONUS:

I am Princess X by Cherie Priest is actually a novel, but there’s a story-within-a-story here that’s told in comics, and it’s a very cool example of mixed-format storytelling. May’s best friend Libby passed away a few years ago in a really tragic accident, and she’s been lonely ever since. But all of a sudden, she sees Princess X popping up all over Seattle: Princess X was a childhood creation that only Libby and May knew about. As May dives into the world of Princess X and webcomics, she begins to wonder–could Libby be alive?

Enjoy the last part of your summer!

-Ally Watkins, ALSC guest blogger. Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

Big Hero 6 readalikes

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When I first heard about the Big Hero 6 movie, I got really excited! It has two of my favorite things in it: a group of diverse, geeky friends who love science and a giant robot that looks a bit like the Michelin Man! What could be better?

The movie, which is loosely based on a comics series which I’ll talk about shortly, revolves around teenaged science genius Hiro Hamada. After an accident at a lab where he is working, he decides to transform Baymax, his brother’s “personal healthcare companion” robot into a fighting machine. Enlisting the help of his other science genius friends: Wasabi; Gogo; Honey Lemon; and Fred; the six of them decide to take on the man who orchestrated the lab explosion.

It was a great movie filled with lots of laughter, exciting action sequences, and I’ll admit, a few heartfelt moments that brought tears to my eyes! If you liked the movie and are looking for some readalikes that feature teams of super-powered teens, some awesome science, and diverse characters, check these out:

Big Hero 6 Comics originally created by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau: There are actually way more than 6 main characters who rotate in and out of the comics, forming Japan’s great superhero team. The style(s) looks really different from the movie version but could be a fascinating read for big fans.

Why you’d like if if you liked Big Hero 6: To get back to the source material, of course! I admit that I haven’t read any of the comics but it would be interesting to see how they differ from the Disney adaptation. Continue reading Big Hero 6 readalikes

Batgirl of Burnside: A New Take on an Old Favorite

Batgirl #35Batgirl is my favorite superhero. Not just any Batgirl, though: Barbara Gordon is my hero. She is smart, strong, and an information professional! She has been portrayed as a librarian, an information broker for other heroes, and, in younger versions, as a tech-savvy student.

Barbara “Babs” Gordon first appeared as Batgirl in 1967, six years after the first ever appearance of a Batgirl. Most often, Babs is the daughter of Commissioner Gordon and works as part of the Bat-family alongside Batman and Dick Grayson’s Robin; however, there are variations to this in the many portrayals of her.

Batgirl has always presented as a strong female character, fighting with male heroes as an equal. She served as an important figure in conversations regarding female representation in comics after she was sexually assaulted and paralyzed during a violent attack in Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke. As this event became part of the canon, the now wheelchair-bound Barbara Gordon once again gave voice to an under-represented population in comics when she left behind her Batgirl cowl and became Oracle, an information broker who supports superheros fighting on the streets.

In 2011, the DC Universe went through a reboot of sorts with the New 52. Under Gail Simone, who had been writing Barbara Gordon as Oracle, this relaunch saw Babs going through rehabilitation, regaining the use of her legs, and heading back out to kick some baddies’ behinds as Batgirl, once again. Continue reading Batgirl of Burnside: A New Take on an Old Favorite

Banned Books Week: Let’s Celebrate Comics & Graphic Novels!

I Read Banned Comics - CBLDFI guess it’s no secret by now that I love comics (probably more than a sane person does or should), so I was really excited and happy and thrilled to learn that for this year’s Banned Books Week celebration, the American Library Association is choosing to focus on comics, graphic novels and manga and the attempts made to censor them at every level. 

From Batman to teenage angst to superheroes who really aren’t that super, books that have inspired and encouraged readers to keep the lights on long after the dark has settled in have been challenged and often times removed from shelves, denying future readers the eye-opening wonder of reading these thought provoking and sometimes just plain fun stories. 

In this post, I thought I’d give a brief look at the attempts to censor comics from practically the moment they were introduced as well as showcase comics’ greatest superhero – the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) as well as give you all a taste of some of my favorite banned & challenged comics & graphic novels.  Here we go, dear readers, into the not so distant past – join me, won’t you?

Continue reading Banned Books Week: Let’s Celebrate Comics & Graphic Novels!

Oldies but Still Goodies from YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels Lists


The War at EllsmereLately, I’ve had to weed my Young Adult Graphic Novel collection because I am just running out of room.
  Weeding is always a sad process, be it in a public library or in your personal collection – I just always think, well, if I just give them another month or another week, someone will pick up this book!   I always like to think that there’s a book here for every person, and unfortunately, some books just don’t get a lot of love or get matched up with their perfect person during their time in the collection. 

That got me thinking about this post; I wanted to spotlight older titles, but how would I choose them since there are so many great books out there from years past?  Then, aha!  I had an epiphany – what if I highlighted some of my favorite comics & graphic novels from YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens lists? 

So, I went back through all the GGNT lists, and picked out some of my favorites from the 2007-2011 lists.  Now, some of these books are pretty popular and some are not, but they are all great graphic reads for all different kinds of readers.  From Star Wars to cat burglars to Batman (well, Batwoman, but, close enough), everyone will find something fun to read on this list – and these are old books!  Well, oldish – and older books can be some of the best books.   So, join me, readers, on this walk down memory lane as we revisit some favorites and hopefully, put the spotlight on some forgotten or overlooked treasures.

2007 Great Graphic Novels for Teens:

Star Wars:  Tag & Bink Were Here by Kevin Rubio & Lucas Marangon:  From the inaugural GGNT list, I chose one of very favorite comics ever!  Tag & Bink are two bumbling rebels who, when they come face to face with Stormtroopers, decide to knock them out and steal their uniforms, and thus, their times as members of the Imperial Army begin.  They aren’t the most savvy or smartest of the bunch, so in addition to not being found out by Darth Vader and his minions, they are also trying to stay alive and get back to the other members of the rebellion.  What’s funny about this book is that Tag & Bink are involved in every major event that happens in the movies – and they’re usually on the verge of messing something up or getting themselves found out.  This book is great for Star Wars aficionados as well as newbies – because it introduces something new and hilarious to established movies with no prior knowledge needed.  All of your favorite characters from Episodes IV-VI make appearances here, and this book will definitely keep you laughing until the very last page!  Continue reading Oldies but Still Goodies from YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels Lists

San Diego Comic Con 2014: A Recap for YA Lit Fans

comic_conEach summer, I look forward to the San Diego Comic Con with all of its celebrity sightings, out-of-this-world costumes, and tons of  free swag and goodies to purchase… really, what’s not to love? Scheduling time to attend can be a little hectic because the SDCC usually follows the ALA Annual Conference – however, I thank my lucky stars that I’m local so I can squeeze in at least one day of good times. Librarians take note – you are eligible to apply for a creative or trade professional badge, so definitely look into that!

 

Graphix_print
A cool keepsake to hang in my sons’ room.

Last Thursday, I kicked off my Con experience at a lovely party hosted by Graphix (the graphic novels division of Scholastic, Inc.) on a swanky hotel rooftop a few blocks away from the convention hubbub. Several favorite authors and artists were in attendance to hang out with old friends, meet new ones, and of course, talk the night away about books and Con adventures. Graphix provided everyone with a print showcasing artwork from the likes of Raina Telgemeier, Mike Maihack, Dan Santat, Jeff Smith, and more. As an added bonus, artists were equipped with pens, and happily autographed/doodled near their respective sections.

BONE_tribute
BONE Tribute featured art.

Graphix also announced that they will be publishing BONE #1: Out from Boneville, The Tribute Edition in February 2015. This special edition of Jeff Smith’s first book in his immensely popular BONE series is part of Scholastic’s 10th anniversary celebration of its Graphix imprint which launched in 2005. The BONE Tribute Edition will be in full-color and feature artwork from sixteen additional artists including Jeffrey Brown, Dav Pilkey, Kazu Kibuishi, and Raina Telgemeier.

With my friend Sara Coney (Youth Services Librarian with San Diego County Library) and John Bradley-West (aka Samwell Tarly on HBO's Game of Thrones) - SDCC 2014.
Sara and I with John Bradley-West (aka Samwell Tarly on HBO’s Game of Thrones) – SDCC 2014.

As I mentioned before, SDCC wouldn’t be SDCC without at least one celebrity sighting, and gosh did we have one! On our way out, my friend Sara and I ran into John Bradley-West (a.k.a. Samwell Tarley on HBO’s Game of Thrones) – he was kind enough to take a photo with two admiring fans (it helped to mention that we were librarians ;) ). Continue reading San Diego Comic Con 2014: A Recap for YA Lit Fans