Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of Borders by Thomas King and Natasha Donovan

Borders by Thomas King and Natasha Donovan
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
ISBN-13: 9781443460675

Six years after his older sister left the reserve to make a new life in Salt Lake City, a boy and his mom pack their car to drive south across the border to visit her. When his mom declares that they are not American or Canadian, but Blackfoot, they are denied entry and turn back toward home, only to face the same problem at the Canadian border. The two are then trapped in physical and legal limbo between Sweetgrass, Montana and Coutts, Alberta with dwindling food and supplies.

In this adaptation of Thomas King’s original short story, Donovan’s art is luminous, capturing nuance and emotion as the characters attempt to navigate a system that divided their territory in half. Many spreads contain few words, allowing the story space to breathe. Readers will appreciate how the narrative deftly brings colonization out of textbooks and into the world they live in, and shows that family, stories, tradition, and human connection are the bedrock helping people through difficult times.

Teens who liked New Kid by Jerry Craft and Almost American Girl by Robin Ha will enjoy Borders for its exploration of identity, while readers of the March series by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell will appreciate the window into a parallel struggle for justice. Borders is also a good choice for teachers looking for accessible entry points into Indigenous studies.

—Jean Broughton

Other Nominated Titles:

  • I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss, vol. 1 by Sarasa Nagase, Anko Yuzu and Mai Murasaki (October 26, 2021)
  • Can’t Stop Cursing You, vol. 2 by Kensuke Koba (November 30, 2021)
  • Ten Days in a Mad-House: A Graphic Adaptation by Brad Ricca & Courtney Sieh (April 19, 2022)
  • Mao, vol. 4 by Rumiko Takahasi (March 8, 2022)
  • Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love with You, vol. 1 by Ayuko Hatta (March 1, 2022)
  • Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, vol. 4 by Kanehito Yamada and Tsukasa Abe (May 17, 2022)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

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Great Graphic Novels for Teens

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