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Tag: shannon hale

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2020) Nominees Round Up, November 7 Edition

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

Best Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeYuen Pham
First Second
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
ISBN: 978-1250317452

Shannon heads into sixth grade full of confidence and hope for the best year ever. Her best friend Jen is the most popular girl in school, and Shannon’s friends “The Group” are ready to rule the school at her side. But the final year of middle school soon turns into a minefield of dos and dont’s, and Shannon struggles to keep up with what’s cool and what’s not. Some boys are cute; some boys are weird. This TV show is a must-watch; this song is lame. Prank calls are funny; playground games are for babies. Girls should be pretty; girls should not be goofy. Shannon finds it nearly impossible to guess the right way to act and the rights things to say, and pressure to fit in with the in-crowd sends her anxiety levels through the roof. Stepping out from Jen’s shadow might be the only way for Shannon to be true to herself—even if it means admitting that her best friends aren’t the right friends anymore.

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.

Women in Comics: Young Adult & New Adult Novels

If there has been one feature of every book that I have discussed in this series of posts, it is a focus on artwork. Even the one non-comic work included in these posts focused a significant amount of text on the artwork of Wonder Woman. But, this month, I am branching out from volumes focused on artwork to discuss an emerging trend – prose novels that are based on comic book characters.

cc image via Flickr user
cc image via Flickr user RyC

While this concept is hardly a new one, recently DC and Marvel have greatly expanded their offerings in this regard to include new adult (albeit not promoted by that name) and young adult novels. These novels can serve the dual purpose of introducing comic book characters and storylines to readers who aren’t comfortable with comics and graphic novels and encouraging comics fans to read works by leading young adult authors. Even more importantly, these novels are just a lot of fun! Right now, there are only a limited number available, but many more are appearing on the publishing horizon.

Loss of Limbs in YA Books

I’m seeing more books about characters who have suffered the loss of a limb in the past few years. Despite this, all the characters have learned to cope really well. It makes me really grateful for what I have and makes me have more empathy for those who aren’t as fortunate. I’m seeing more realistic portrayals of characters with disabilities who are strong main characters and not secondary ones, maybe due to the diverse books trend.

It seems that there are a range of different types of books with characters lacking limbs. There are fantasies set in the past, science fiction books set in the future and realistic fiction often related to sports or the arts. And, fairy tale retellings, including two published recently based on Grimm’s Girl Without Hands, one of their less well-known tales.

crimson bound hodgeCrimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge is a lush fantasy that incorporates a number of fairy tales into her story of Rachelle who is forced to fight deadly creatures on behalf of the realm to atone for a reckless act. When the king forces her to guard his bastard son Armand, Rachelle forces Armand to help her hunt for the legendary sword that might save their world. Armand isn’t a warrior like Rachelle because the forestborn that marked him cut off his hands (an homage to Grimm’s Girl Without Arms) but Armand is shrewd and uses his great intelligence to make up for it.

 

Image-3Stephanie Oakes’ The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly (2016 Morris Award Finalist and 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee) is unique in that it’s not a fantasy, nor is it SF, it is realistic fiction. The year isn’t specific, but it seems to me to take place in a relatively current time period but since the community is off the grid in a secluded area, it has a more historical feel. This story of one teen’s struggle to break away from the life she’s known in a cult since she was five is gritty and often hard to read but unforgettable. Minnow no longer believes in the Prophet after he announces that God told him to marry her. She dares to attempt to escape but is caught and punished for her disobedience – her hands are cut off. The Prophet even keeps Minnow’s skeletal remains of her hands on his mantel. Minnow tells her story of what happened to her in the cult before and after that horrific event to an FBI psychologist as she’s in juvenile detention on charges of seriously assaulting a mentally unstable young man.

 

Image-6Anyone familiar with Grimm’s story will notice that there are a number of elements that Oakes faithfully includes from Grimm’s original tale, although Oakes adds an even more shocking twist to her story. (For another version of Grimm’s Girl Without Hands, read Philip Pullman’s Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm (2012) and his commentary about why he dislikes this tale).

Let’s Hear it For the Dads in YA Books

I know it’s very common for parents, especially fathers, to be absent or portrayed negatively in YA books. Not every father is Atticus Finch, but there are more dads in teen books that are loving and supportive than you might think. Since Sunday is Father’s Day, I wanted to celebrate some admirable dads found in YA books.

All I can think is that I want her more than anything. I want her more than I’ve ever wanted anything ever.” (Bobby, 16, The First Part Last by Angela Johnson, winner of the 2004 Michael Printz Award and 2004 Coretta Scott King Award)

Photo Jun 17, 8 03 36 PMThis is the book I immediately think of when I think of fathers in YA books. It might have been published in 2003 but it’s still fresh in my mind, even after all the years since I first read it. It’s not just that it’s about a teen father, but it’s also because it’s written from the father’s point of view instead of the mother’s. In this companion book to Heaven, Bobby is an African American teenager struggling to raise his adored baby daughter Feather by himself after the baby’s mother tragically dies.

 

“I am a father.” “I am Jupiter’s father.” “I will always be Jupiter’s father.” (Joseph, 14, Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt, coming out November 3, 2015)

Photo Jun 17, 9 25 51 PMJoseph may be practically a child himself, but by aged thirteen he had been incarcerated for allegedly trying to kill a teacher, and is the father of a three-month-old daughter named Jupiter that he’s never seen. He will do anything he can to find her. This is a beautifully written story that will make you cry but also uplift you.

 

 

“I’m glad to hear you think you ought to feel guilty.” “I was beginning to wonder whether we’d brought you up properly.” (Derk, The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones)

Photo Jun 17, 7 17 37 PMAfter they are unwillingly chosen as tour leaders, unconventional wizard Derk and his magical family try to stop the devastating tours of their world arranged by the tyrannical Mr. Chesney. Derk specializes in genetics, specifically in creating new animals & the family consists of both humans and animals (that talk). Teenaged son Blake has a fifteen-year-old brother, Kit, a griffin. Kit’s murderously angry with Mr. Chesney for his disrespectful treatment of Derk and the family and the quote above is what Derk says in response to Kit’s confession that he wanted to kill Mr. Chesney but felt guilty about it. Blake wants to attend Wizard’s University but his father Derk is dead set against it. Mara, Blake’s mom says, “…Your father thinks, rightly or wrongly, that you’ll end up as miserable as he was, or you’ll find yourself doing nothing but look after the tours like the rest of them. And that would break his heart, Blake.”

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.

One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Shannon Hale

Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.

I’ve been trying to write this introduction for a week now and I think the problem is that I live in the same city as Shannon Hale, which means that I see her around now and then, at libraries or bookstores or whatever.  And I like her a whole lot.  She’s exactly as awesome as you think she is (probably a bit more, actually.) 

So I’m jotting down ideas for this introduction but they’re all about how nice she was at Snowbird that one time, or how she graciously smoothed over that awkward situation with the convention, or how much fun it was when she won both the 2003 Utah Children’s Book Award and the 2003 Utah Speculative Fiction Award for The Goose Girl. I’m thinking how much I love reading her blog and how amazed I am at her time management skills, her good humor, and her thoughtfulness about a myriad of issues. 

And those are all true things and good times, but I want (need) to talk about the writing here because seriously, Shannon Hale’s writing.  Her books, whether they’re adult romantic comedy, middle grade fantasy, or YA science fiction, are often called “spellbinding” and “captivating” and “lyrical” (an oft-overused word that is utterly appropriate here) and they are certainly all those things.  She’s one of the few authors I re-read for language as much as for story (honestly, I could have spent most of this interview interrogating her about her metaphor creation process.)

And yet, I’m still thinking about how happy she was talking about her movie Austenland at the Sundance Film Festival and how when she and her husband drove over to my house like normal people to pick up some boxes of books, they made me laugh really hard.  Shannon, if you were less awesome it would be a lot easier to talk about your work.  On the other hand, your work speaks (oh so eloquently) for itself, so I guess we’re good.  Thank you, thank you for taking the time to talk with me, especially during the busiest month ever, and for writing really excellent books. 

Always Something There to Remind Me

shale-lgPlease describe your teenage self.
I was dramatic. As a teen I felt as if I was living in a tragic drama, whereas now I’m in a comedy of errors. I felt everything profoundly. I ached and hoped and daydreamed and regretted and longed. I think I was fairly smart but unmotivated. I’d do homework but forget to turn it in. I rarely dated. My group of friends was all-important, and the ups and downs of friendships consumed me.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
I always wanted to be a writer, but I also did theater and hoped to be an actress. Two impossible dreams!

What were your high school years like?
I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, in a fancy side of town, though I didn’t realize it at the time. I thought we were struggling because my parents were super frugal and while the people around me went on trips and bought new cars and ate out at restaurants, we often dined on poached-egg-on-toast and were lucky if we got to rent a video once in a while (certainly no cable!).

Right before I entered high school, the boundaries changed. I was supposed to have gone to East High (which years later would be the backdrop of High School Musical) but ended up going to West High. Which was on the west side of the city. Across the tracks, like, literally. I heard scary things: “druggie school,” “gang school.” Some teacher had been stabbed. There were shootings.

By the end of our freshman year, I was the only girl from my elementary school friends who hadn’t transferred out of West High. I loved it. I never saw drugs or guns. The school was so diverse, people from all kinds of economic, religious, cultural, racial backgrounds. It was such a breath of fresh air for me. (Though I did become ashamed of my fancy neighborhood and tried to keep my address a secret.) 

From Classic to Contemporary: Pride and Prejudice to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries… and eventually to Austenland

Classics — whether they are novels, plays, or epics — offer us great characters, interesting plots, and lots of things for discussion… but sometimes they can be a little tough to tackle. Sometimes we adore them, but sometimes we can’t get past page 3, let alone the requisite 50. That doesn’t mean that we should give up what they have to offer, though, does it? Many of today’s authors try to use these classic works as a starting-off point to write a more modern version. If done well, these contemporary versions can have a huge impact and impart the same wisdom that made the earlier story gain its classic status. Jessica Pryde and I decided to find and examine some great pairs of classics and their contemporary rewrites to see if they are successful… or maybe not.

prideandprejudice2The Classic: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

In one of the most quoted and famous novels of all time, Miss Elizabeth Bennet makes astute observations about the societal structures in place around her while simultaneously trying to avoid her mother’s attempts to marry her off to an appropriate man.  While encouraging her elder sister’s romantic attachment to a very eligible bachelor, Lizzie meets his friend, Mr. Darcy, and the two immediately come to detest one another.  Through a series of unfortunate interactions and the verbal machinations of others, Lizzie’s hatred for Darcy continues to deepen and when he unexpectedly proposes, she refuses.  When her youngest sister, Lydia, elopes with a dashing, but devious soldier, Mr. Darcy covers the scandal and sees them properly wed.  Upon these actions, Lizzie knows that Mr. Darcy truly must care for her and she must admit to her own growing feelings for him.