Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2020) Nominees Round Up, September 5 Edition

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

Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist’s Journey Vol. 1 by Akiko Higashimura
Seven Seas Entertainment
Publication Date: May 21, 2019
ISBN: 978-1642750690

An autobiographical tale of the author’s journey to becoming a full-fledged mangaka. Akiko dreams of becoming a popular mangaka, maybe before she even finishes high school! Although Akiko thinks very highly of her current skill level, her new teacher shows her that she has a long way to go and a lot to learn before she can reach her goal. Will it be a straight path to success or will she have to rethink her plans as she finds her way?

Continue reading Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2020) Nominees Round Up, September 5 Edition

OUTspoken: Teen Graphic Novels for Pride Month

Though Pride month recently wrapped up, the need for these titles lasts all year. These positive, inclusive graphic novels span many genres (contemporary, fantasy, mystery, memoir) and include LGBTQia* characters just going about their business, whether that be going to school, finding love, solving crimes, rescuing princesses, or reaping souls. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list – add your favorites in the comments below!

*lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersexual, asexual

Continue reading OUTspoken: Teen Graphic Novels for Pride Month

#QP2019 Nominees Round Up, April 24 Edition

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Macmillan / Flatiron Books
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
ISBN:  978-1-250-14790-5 

After years of living as transients to escape their bad luck, Alice and her mother Ella think they can finally settle down and have a normal life in New York. But people claiming to be “Hinterland”, characters from Alice’s grandmother’s collection of dark fairy tales, kidnap Ella. Alice and her classmate Finch travel to The Hazel Wood, her grandmother Althea’s estate, to rescue Ella and discover the truth about The Hazel Wood, The Hinterland and Alice herself. 

Continue reading #QP2019 Nominees Round Up, April 24 Edition

#GGN2019 Nominees Round Up, March 22 edition

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
First Second
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
ISBN: 978-1626723634

Up-and-coming Parisian seamstress Frances is given the opportunity of a lifetime when a patron hires her to make her unique designs full time. When the patron turns out to be the young and eligible Belgian prince Sebastian, who wears the gowns under the secret identity of Lady Crystallia, the two begin a collaboration that takes the Paris fashion scene by storm. That is, so long as Frances is willing to also keep her identity a secret to protect her new friend.

Continue reading #GGN2019 Nominees Round Up, March 22 edition

Women in Comics: Some Love Stories for February

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this month is a good time to consider the comics and graphic novels that you have on your shelf that will appeal to to fans of romance and love in all its forms. These books are just a few options for these readers.

Cover of The Prince and the DressmakerCast No Shadow coverI Love This Part cover

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang – Set in Paris in what seems to be La Belle Époque, Prince Sebastian is stuck between the wishes of his parents and his own wishes. His parents desperately want him to find a wife and have been setting him up on ever more pointless dates. He, on the other hand, wants to continue his life as it is, including his secret practice of periodically dressing in traditionally feminine clothes. When he meets Frances, who is an incredibly talented fashion designer and dressmaker, he quickly moves to employ her full time under the guise of having her serve as his personal tailor. Together they develop the fashion and persona necessary for him to take the city by storm as the daringly dressed Lady Crystallia. But, the pressure of his secret increasingly impacts both Sebastian and Frances and will test their friendship and their working relationship. Told with beautiful drawings and a fun-loving spirit, this is a great story about the pressures that society puts on people to conform and on the sorrow of having to hide your true talents and self.

Cast No Shadow by Nick Tapalansky and art by Anissa Espinosa – Greg is used to his quirky life in his off-beat town. He may not have a shadow, but that doesn’t bother him nearly as much as his town’s continual attempts to find the perfect tourist trap. What he isn’t expecting is to find a mansion nestled in the woods just outside his little town where he meets and falls for a beautiful girl. But, it wouldn’t be Lancaster if things were that simple. She may be funny and sweet and cute, but she’s also very definitely dead. As their relationship grows, he’ll not only learn why he is the only person who can see her, but also resolve some of his personal issues along the way. This is a story not only of a budding new relationship, but also a story about the power of family, friendship, and remembering those who have died.

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin with art by Jenn St-Onge and Joy San – This new comic is a love story across the years. After meeting and falling in love in the 1960’s, Hazel and Mari are pulled apart by the demands of society. They marry men, have families, and find a certain type of happiness. But when they find themselves at a church bingo evening when they are grandmothers, they find that the spark has not extinguished even after all of these years. Now they have a second chance for love and the opportunity for the happiness they always wanted.

Louis Undercover by Fanny Britt with art by Isabelle Arsenault – This comic tackles a lot of tough topics, including divorce, alcoholism, being siblings, and first love, but it approaches them all with a deft hand. The story follows Louis as he moves back and forth between his parents’ homes. Louis is in the throes of his first serious crush on a girl in his class named Billie. As they move between his father’s house and his mother’s apartment, he and his brother, Truffle, must confront the realities of their father’s struggles with alcohol. Throughout it all, Louis is also consumed by his efforts to work up the courage to speak to Billie. The story is a relatable and heart wrenching one about both family love and first love that will keep readers rooting for Louis throughout.

I Love This Part by Tillie Walden – Told with spare language and illustrations in black, white and shades of greyish purple, this story shows moments in the lives of two girls as they bond over music, make their way through school, and develop a relationship that shakes both of them. Despite the limited use of text, Walden conveys powerful emotions and makes the reader empathize with both of these characters as they struggle to make sense of their emotions. By the end, readers will be invested in the journey of the two characters and wishing for more of their stories.

What are your favorite comics and graphic novels about love and romance? Let us know in the comments!

– Carli Spina, currently reading A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Women in Comics – Looking Ahead to 2018

As another year begins, it’s time to look ahead to the exciting new comics and graphic novels by women that we can expect in 2018. Hopefully this list will give you something to look forward to as the new year starts!

Cover of All Summer Long by Hope LarsonCover of Be Prepared by Vera BergasolCover of Moonstruck by Grace Ellis Continue reading Women in Comics – Looking Ahead to 2018

Women in Comics: Looking Ahead to 2017

Though it may be tough to believe that a new year has begun, 2017 is here and it brings with it some great comics by women! Below are some exciting comics that will be released in the coming months. Take a look and find something fun for this brand new year.

Mighty Captain Marvel coverSquirrel Meets World coverBatgirl and Birds of Prey cover

Superheroes
2017 is going to be a great year for superhero comics written by women. Marvel has a number of options coming up that are both by women and about women, with three debuting next August. Over the span of just a couple of weeks, we’ll see The Unstoppable Wasp, Vol. 1: Unstoppable! by Jeremy Whitley with art by Elsa Charretier, The Mighty Captain Marvel by Margaret Stohl with art by Ramon Rosanas, and Sif: Journey Into Mystery by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Kathryn Immonen with art by Ryan Stegman, Valerio Schiti, and Pepe Larraz. Versions of all of these character tie into the Marvel Cinematic Universe or will in the future, so they are great options for those who love the movies and want to start reading the comics too. There will even be options for those who aren’t fans of comics, with The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World novel by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale coming out at the beginning of February. Continue reading Women in Comics: Looking Ahead to 2017

All Your Books Belong to Us: YA Lit for Gamers

NES-Controller-FlatOne of my fondest memories from my childhood is that of long days spent hunched in front of the TV, my NES controller sweaty in my hands as I tried fruitlessly to conquer whatever Mario level I was playing at the time. I couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 when I started playing, but it brought a kind of joy to my life that was unmatched. It was me saving the princess, fighting dragons, and exploring new lands, and it opened my eyes to new kinds of entertainment.

Over the years, I’ve evolved as a gamer. I’ve seen the transition from 2d sprites to fully-realized 3d worlds. I’ve played good games and bad. I’ve refined my tastes and discovered the satisfaction that comes from beating a game after a particularly hard final boss (here’s looking at you, Kingdom Hearts!). And a couple years ago, I accomplished my life-long goal of finally beating the original Super Mario Bros. game that stumped me throughout my childhood!

I love gaming with a passion unmatched by almost anything else, but one of the hobbies I love slightly more is reading. When those two things come together, I fall hard. Every. Single. Time. Anything can happen in a video game, the more outrageous the better, which gives authors an unrestricted amount of freedom to create a living universe peopled with amazing characters and peppered with allusions and references that can make the nerdiest among us swoon with delight. Here are just a few of my personal favorites!

  • ender's game orson scott card coverEnder’s Game by Orson Scott Card

In a futuristic world in which alien invasions and wars are the norm, Ender Wiggins is bred to be a genius and then drafted into a rigorous training program. Torn away from his parents and family, Ender’s new home is the Battle School, where recruits are divided into teams to hold mock battles and test their military strategy. Facing pressure and loneliness, Ender develops as a leader who could hold the fate of the world in his hands. An oldie but goodie, Ender’s Game has definitely stood the test of time, even spawning a recent film adaptation. Orson Scott Card was the recipient of the 2008 Margaret A. Edwards Award for his significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens.

  • Erebos by Ursula Poznanski

Erebos is a game. One that you can’t buy. A game that watches you and knows you and influences you. When rumors of this game begin to float around the halls of Nick’s school, he becomes desperate to get his hands on it. The only catch is that someone has to invite you to play the game. When he does finally obtain a copy, he immediately gets hooked, playing for hours on end. But when the game enters the real world, Nick must reexamine what he thinks he knows…and what he’s willing to do for the sake of a game.  Continue reading All Your Books Belong to Us: YA Lit for Gamers

Women in Comics: Science Fiction

Robot by Robin Zebrowski. CC BY 2.0.
Robot by Robin Zebrowski. CC BY 2.0.

This month for my Women in Comics post, I’m focusing on science fiction graphic novels. Science fiction is generally one of my favorite genres and there are many great examples that are graphic novels. Whether you prefer near-future, dystopia, or science fiction blended with a hint of fantasy, this list will have a great book to add to your to-be-read list.

In Real LifeIn Real Life by Cory Doctorow with art by Jen Wang (2015 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten) – Anda is a dedicated player of Coarsegold Online, a massively-multiplayer online role playing game by the time she meets a gold farmer from China named Raymond. As she learns about the work that he does – which includes long hours and no benefits – she becomes outraged and tries to take action to help him. The book is transparently aimed at teaching readers about the politics and economics of gaming as well as sparking an interest in activism. It will appeal to fans of online games and of Doctorow’s other works.

Alex + AdaAlex + Ada by Sarah Vaughn with art by Jonathan Luna – When Alex receives an X5 android as a surprise birthday gift, he is pretty sure he wants nothing to do with it, but once he meets Ada he becomes deeply conflicted about the idea of returning her. This comic follows Alex and the android he names Ada as they meet and navigate a complicated world where fear of artificial intelligence runs rampant in the wake of an AI organized massacre. Alex must decide what his beliefs about the rights of androids are and how he should interact with a completely lifelike, but non-human being. This is a great series for those with an interest in robots and artificial intelligence.  Continue reading Women in Comics: Science Fiction

Diverse YA Titles to Look for at ALA Annual

Photo Jun 22, 6 52 28 PMAs a follow-up to Hannah Gómez’s post #DiversityatALA about the current movement to be vocal about the need for more diversity in YA literature (#weneeddiversebooks), and Kelly Dickinson’s post featuring LGBTQ titles, I’m here to list some upcoming YA books that contain non-white, non-heterosexual, non-cisgendered or differently-abled characters that you should be on the lookout for. If you are attending the ALA Annual Conference this weekend in Vegas, ask the publishers about ARCs for many of these. Not all of them will be available as ARCs because some aren’t being published until 2015, but publishers’ reps should still be able give you the scoop on them.

To start, I’m including a few recent notable books that you probably know about and a few that aren’t as obvious because the reviews might not have mentioned their diverse content, or you can’t tell from their jacket flaps.

Photo Jun 23, 2 15 16 AMFreakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark (2014 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults) is a novel about a transgendered boy while a strong pick for a nonfiction book about transgendered teens is Susan Kuklin’s Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out.

I wasn’t aware that  the main character Chevron “Chevie” is descended from the Shawnee Native American tribe in Eoin Colfer’s Warp: Book 1 the Reluctant Assassin until I started reading it. The second book in the series, Hangman’s Revolution is coming out today. Park in Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2014 Printz Honor book) is half-Korean.

In Stick by Andrew Smith the main character “Stick” is differently-abled because he was born without an ear & his older brother is gay. Chasing Shadows by Swati Avashi has a main character of Indian descent and there’s a lot about Hindu mythology in the book.

Photo Jun 19, 11 31 11 AMPadma Venkatraman’s A Time to Dance is about a classical Indian dance prodigy whose life seems to be over after she becomes a below-the knee amputee.

Erin Bow’s Sorrow’s Knot is a fantasy flavored by Native American cultures and Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore features a lesbian character.

Now that you’re up to speed on recently-published diverse titles, here are some upcoming books with diverse content to keep an eye out for at ALA Annual and other conferences:

  • Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks, August  2014) is Photo Jun 22, 11 44 43 AMa ghost story about Okiko, whose spirit has wandered the world for centuries delivering punishment to monsters who hurt children,  but when she meets teenaged Tark, she tries to free him from the demon that invaded him.
  •  Blind by Rachel DeWoskin (Penguin, August 2014) A 15-year-old teen girl loses her eyesight the summer before high school after a firecracker misfires into a crowd.
  •  Positive: a Memoir by Paige Rawl (HarperCollins, August 2014) (NF). Memoir of Paige Rawl, HIV positive since birth, who was bullied in school once she disclosed her HIV-positive status and from that moment forward, every day was like walking through a minefield.  Continue reading Diverse YA Titles to Look for at ALA Annual