Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2020) Nominees Round Up, June 20 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

By Night, Volumes 1 & 2 written by John Allison and illustrated by Christine Larsen and Sarah Stern
Boom! Box
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
ISBN:  978-1684152827

In Volume 1, we meet Jane and Heather who used to be high school besties, but after a falling out have found themselves finding each other again where they grew up in Spectrum, South Dakota. What starts out as a casual hang session at the bar turns into a multi-dimensional travel journey that will either bring Jane and Heather together, drive them apart or keep them together forever…in another dimension!

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Graphic Adaptations

I read my first Jane Austen novel after watching the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. From there I read the other books – and watched various movie adaptations of each. Movie adaptations are often used in schools a culminating activity, with some sort of compare contrast note-taking work. The thing is, a good adaptation can help readers before they tackle the original, giving them the sense of the plot and characters, as well as the big ideas the work addresses.

Some recent graphic novels can serve the same purpose – giving readers access to a work of literature before they tackle the original – whether for school or for pleasure.

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2017 Nonfiction Award Finalists: An Interview with Pamela S. Turner and Gareth Hinds on Samurai Rising

cover art for Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune is the true story of one of Japan’s greatest samurai warriors and a finalist for YALSA’s 2017 Nonfiction Award. Today I’m thrilled to have the book’s author Pamela S. Turner and illustrator Gareth Hinds here to answer some questions about the book.

Congratulations on Samurai Rising‘s selection as a 2017 Nonfiction Award finalist! Where were each of you when you heard the news? Who was the first person you told about the big news?

Pamela S. Turner (PST): The big news (yay!) arrived one morning via an email from Donna Spurlock, the marketing director at Charlesbridge Publishing. I told my dogs right away but they were notably unimpressed.

Gareth Hinds (GH): I was at a school visit in Vermont when I got the news. They let us know a couple of days before the public announcement, so I was only allowed to tell my wife.

Pamela, what was the inspiration for Samurai Rising? In some ways this story could have focused on numerous samurai, including several of Yoshitsune’s relatives, how did you know you had found your next protagonist in Yoshitsune?

PST: I lived in Japan for six years during the 1990s and during that time read The Tale of the Heike. Yoshitsune impressed me because his tale is so much like King Arthur’s or Luke Skywalker’s: all are heirs to a great tradition, yet raised in obscurity; all become  a hero, yet discover that their greatest enemy is a member of their own family. But Yoshitsune’s story is true.

I never considered writing about anyone else from that time period. Despite Yoshitsune’s faults I find him a deeply sympathetic character. According to the standards of his time and culture Yoshitsune did everything he was supposed to do and yet was betrayed in the most cynical fashion. His military accomplishments had a deep and lasting impact on Japanese history; his personal tragedy had a deep and lasting impact on Japanese art and literature. If you go to my website at, you can see some examples of how Yoshitsune’s life has inspired generation after generation of writers and artists.

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Graphic Novels for Non-GN Readers

Have you finished all your Christmas shopping, or do you still have 10 gifts to find? If, like me, you like to give books as gifts, it can be a challenge to strike the right balance between a book you know someone will enjoy and a book that will give them a new experience. Graphic novels have been my new experience this year.Boxers Gene Luen Yang

I am emphatically not a graphic novel reader–I have nothing against the format, but it’s just not something that I tend to pick up on my own. My 5-year-old son, however, loves comic books and my elementary school librarian mother, who also grew up loving comic books, has been helping him out by recommending graphic novels for kids his age. Since I seem to be destined, for at least the next 12 years, to be around a graphic novel reader, I’ve been trying to dip into the format a little further. As I’ve done so, I’ve come up with a few guidelines for helping graphic novel lovers lure us non-GN readers into the format.

  1. Choose a story to match your reader, just as you would for a regular novel. I’m not a huge fan of superheroes, which are what first come to my mind when I think of graphic novels. So a graphic novel about Superman is probably not the best bet when recommending for me. But a graphic novel version of Romeo and Juliet, adapted by Gareth Hinds (nominee for the 2014 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list)? Gareth Hinds Romeo and JulietOr a historical graphic novel set about the Boxer Rebellion in China (Boxers and Saints, by Gene Luen Yang, 2013 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature)? Yes, please! While it may be a no-brainer, this is definitely the most important tip I can offer–just like you have to find the right story for the right reader with regular format books, you must do the same with graphic novels. Those of us who aren’t familiar with the format may not realize there’s a graphic novel with a story for us, so prove us wrong! Continue reading Graphic Novels for Non-GN Readers

What Are You Reading, France?


Wikimedia Commons

I belong to a book club where we do a role call to see what everyone is reading.  I am always interested to know what other people are reading or waiting to read- but just knowing what is popular in Ohio or the whole United States no longer satisfies my curiosity.  I want to know what teens are reading all over the world. 

France is a country of 66,000,000 people.  Its capital and largest city, Paris, has a population of 2,200,000 who live in the city limits. If you count all the people living in the suburban read around Paris that’s nearly 12 million people.  (France) About 19% of the people in living in France are 14 years old or younger so that’s a lot juvenile and teen readers. What’s really amazing is France has a near 99% literacy rate so all these young readers will grow into lifelong book lovers.  Which makes me wonder: what are all of them reading? 

Thank you to Celeste Rhoads who has the answers.

  • Where did you work?

The American Library in Paris (Paris, France – a private, non-profit library founded by the ALA in 1920)

New Takes on Star-Crossed Love

…these hot days is the mad blood stirring…

These words from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet have always made me think that Romeo and Juliet’s frenzied, wildly hopeful, passionate, and fateful/fatal love affair would have been a different story if it was set in a cold climate. Not that there isn’t probably a wintery version of the story out there. Romeo and Juliet has captivated audiences for centuries with its universal themes of forbidden love, loyalty, and family pride.

The book adaptation of West Side Story is consistently on the summer reading list in my library’s community, which may be another reason I’ve been thinking of the theme of star-crossed love in literature and the way this eternal story has been used to reflect current culture. West Side Story tells the story through the clash between the Puerto Rican Sharks and the Polish-American Jets in 1950s New York city. Fifty years later, new adaptations present thoughtful, challenging, and very current twists on the classic theme.

Farizan_IYCBM_300dpiIn If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (available August 2013), Sahar is a teenager living in Iran, dedicated to her widowed father, her studies and hopes for entry to medical school, and her best friend Nasrin, with whom she has been in love since she was six years old. But in Iran, their love is illegal. If it were discovered they could be imprisoned or even executed. The stakes are raised when Nasrin’s family announces her engagement to Reza, a handsome doctor who seems like a brilliant match for their daughter. Sahar is broken-hearted, and it is the tenacity of her love that both leads to the central contradiction of the story and gives its universal appeal, because Sahar learns that while homosexuality is illegal in Iran, gender re-assignment surgery is not only legal, but even funded by the government. To be a man trapped in a woman’s body is viewed as nature’s mistake. To love Nasrim openly, would Sahar sacrifice who she is?

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31 Days of Authors: A Conversation with Gareth Hinds

Teen Read Week is officially October 16th through 22nd, but here at The Hub, we’re celebrating all month long with 31 Days of Authors. On each day in October, we’ll bring you author interviews and profiles and reflections on what YALSA-recognized books have meant to us.

Cover to Gareth Hinds' The Odyssey
Cover to Gareth Hinds' The Odyssey

Comics artist Gareth Hinds is a creator looking both forward and back. His four highly-regarded graphic novels to date have all won acclaim for their beautiful art and innovative storytelling techniques—but these fresh and original books are all adaptations of much older works, including Homer’s Odyssey and Shakespeare’s King Lear. His adaptation of Beowulf was on YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels list for 2008, and his Odyssey made it on this year’s list. He also created the art for this year’s Teen Read Week (which began yesterday!), “Picture It @ Your Library.” His personal website can be found here. In this article, we ask him about his influences, his process, his future plans, and his work in video games. Check it out after the break!

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