#GGN2019 Nominees Round Up, November 8 Edition

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-328-81015-1

Don Brown’s latest graphic novel gives a basic description of the war in Syria that has caused millions of Syrians to flee the country and become refugees in neighboring countries and Europe along with the war’s political, geographic, and cultural implications. Through quotes from refugees the book shows how they have suffered in their home country and how they are suffering as refugees in other countries. Resources include a thorough bibliography and footnotes.

Through illustrations, infographics and short quotes from refugees themselves, Brown is able to give a human face to millions of Syrian refugees and their plight. It’s a powerful book that shows empathy for people who only want to live freely and not suffer under an oppressive government, although their refugee status can cause almost as much suffering. It’s an important topic because of its currency; this is not history, refugees are still fleeing Syria and living in camps right now. Furthermore, immigration is a contested topic all over the world. Brown successfully conveys the importance of the issue in any easy to digest format by limiting the text and emphasizing color and gesture. While much of the book is in a brown and gray palette, splashes of color: the orange of life preservers or the yellow of a banana – suggest that there are moments of hope within this international crisis.

This text is a terrific companion to other books about refugees, like Escape from Syria by Samya Kullab and Refugee by Alan Gratz. Readers who are already familiar with Brown’s other documentary nonfiction works like Drowned City will also enjoy this text.

Amy Estersohn and Loren Spector


Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
ISBN: 978-1338139211

Sixth grade was easy for Dany, but seventh grade is a different story. She’s in a new school and none of her friends are in any of her classes or lunch period. She can’t seem to make any connections with her classmates and she soon starts to feel isolated and alone. When Dany finds an old, magical drawing book left by her great-aunt who has recently died, she decides to create a few new friends of her own, opening up a whole new set of problems.

Though geared for younger teens ages 12-13, the trials and tribulations of having to make new friends would appeal to teens of any age. Making Friends evokes feelings of uncomfortability, low self-esteem, and isolation that come with new experiences and change, along with themes of friendship and self-acceptance. The dialogue is witty and realistic, and Gudsnuk’s art style weaves together beautiful and bright illustrations with anime and manga connections.

Readers of Raina Telgemeier’s books, but specifically Drama, will also enjoy Making Friends. Fans of anime and manga art style will connect to the subplots and illustration style. Give this book to teens who are experiencing change and new situations, or having trouble making friends.

Amanda Cain


Giant Days, vols. 7 & 8 by John Allison, illustrated by Liz Fleming and Max Sarin
Publication Dates and ISBNs:
vol. 7: March 27, 2018 – 978-1684151318
vol. 8: August 28, 2018 – 978-1684152070

The Giant Days series just keeps getting better. Volume 7 follows Esther, Susan and Daisy from Christmas Break back at their homes, into the winter semester of their sophomore year of college. Susan is pretty miserable at home dealing with her feuding parents and six older sisters. Esther realizes that she isn’t as smart as she thinks she is and becomes an activist (briefly). Daisy and girlfriend, Ingrid are fighting a lot, there are weird people and noises coming out of the “off limits” garage of their apartment, and is it possible that Susan and McGraw have gotten back together?

Volume 8 brings even more hijinks. Esther has secretly befriended Emilia (Susan’s nemesis), but Susan has a secret of her own (her relationship with McGraw). Plus, it’s almost the end of the school year and living arrangements are being worked out, which leaves Esther struggling to figure out where she will live.

Both of these volumes are a great continuation of a great series. The artwork is colorful and appealing. The characters are all so different, but have such strong relationships with each other and are completely lovable. The story has a sense of humor and is relatable to teens and young adults. Anyone preparing to go to college or who has been there before, will find pieces of themselves in Esther, Susan and/or Daisy.

Fans of the series will not be disappointed with the latest additions to the Giant Days series.

—Loren Spector

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Great Graphic Novels for Teens

Great Graphic Novels for Teens Blogging Team @ YALSA's The Hub.