Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
You Brought Me the Ocean by Alex Sanchez and Julie Maroh DC Comics Publication Date: June 9, 2020 ISBN: 9781401290818
Jake Hyde grew up in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico with an overly protective mother and his best friend, next-door neighbor Maria who has an unrequited crush on him. Jake is pretty sure of this, so he tries to keep some distance between them since he cares for her. But Jake secretly has a crush on Kenny Liu, the green-haired swim team captain who struggles with his father accepting his sexuality. Jake has another secret he is keeping from everyone: when he comes in contact with water these strange blue markings on his skin begin to glow. As he searches for his identity, will he have the power to face it head on?
Middle school (usually 5th through 8th grade) is an incredible time. Kids begin to see themselves as part of a larger world, their minds and bodies go into development overdrive, and their relationships with everyone can shift dramatically. Middle schoolers are heavily invested in figuring out their identities; they push for increased independence from adults while often desperately seeking a sense of belonging among their peers. These experiences can be especially confusing, painful, or frightening for kids who feel different–such as kids whose gender identities or sexual orientations stand out in our still very binary and heteronormative culture.
This spring, Buzzfeed published an article titled “Coming Out As Gay in Elementary School,” which interviewed a few children and their families on their experiences coming out as gay, genderless, and queer at ages ranging from 7 to 13 years old. The article also cites research and interviews with Dr. Caitlyn Ryan of San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Project. In a 2009 practice brief, Dr. Ryan notes that their research shows that “both gay and straight children have their first ‘crush’ or attraction to another person at age 10” and on average, adolescents in their studies identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual at age 13.4 (2). In the same report, she reiterates that children develop and express gender identity at ages 2-3 (2).
As a librarian, I want to be able to provide all of my students with stories that both reflect their lives, experiences, and identities and expand their understanding of our diverse world. Since these studies and testimonies clearly illustrate the relevance of LBGTQ+ stories to middle school students, I wondered: how many middle school age characters who identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum show up in middle grade and young adult fiction?
Happily, we are beginning to see more and more novels featuring 10-14 year old LGBTQ+ characters. However, I struggled to find representations of girls who like girls or transgender boys, which was disheartening. We’ve got some great titles currently available and several exciting titles set to be published this year. But I’d love to see even more, especially featuring lesbian/bisexual/queer girls and transgender boys!
While her painfully bad singing rules out a future as an actor, theatre fanatic Callie has found her place backstage as a set designer. When talented twins Justin and Jesse join the middle school musical, the drama on and off stage reaches new heights. Callie’s thrilled to have a fun new friend in openly gay Justin and she hopes that quiet Jesse might be the boy to help her get over her crush on her old friend Greg.
So Hard To Say – Alex Sanchez
Thirteen year old Xio is confident, bubbly, and ready for first kisses and romance. When shy Frederick starts at school, Xio is happy to lend him a pen and invite him to join her lunch table. The two quickly become close friends but as Xio’s attempts to transform their relationship into romance escalate, Frederick finds himself increasingly attracted to handsome soccer player Victor.
When thirteen year old Nate hears about open auditions for the lead in the upcoming Broadway production of E.T. : The Musical, he will stop at nothing to get to New York City and claim his rightful space in the spotlight. Along the way, Nate faces merciless competition, perilous public transportation, and growing questions about his sexuality and identity. Nate’s adventures continue in the sequel, Five, Six, Seven, Nate! Continue reading Middle School Pride : LGBTQ+ Tweens in Literature for Youth
Last month when I started writing my Find a New Favorite Female Comic Artist or Graphic Novelist post I envisioned it as a one-time list of suggestions, but as I got into the process of collecting books with women in charge of the story, artwork, or both, I realized that (1) there are far too many examples for a single post and (2) I was having way too much fun to only go through the process once. When I published the post and started getting supportive comments with even more reading suggestions, I decided that I wanted to turn it into a recurring series. So, my current plan is to continue writing Women In Comics posts that offer suggestions for those interested in finding great new comics and graphic novels.
As I was preparing to write this post, both Marvel and DC released plans for upcoming superhero movies for the next several years and this gave me the inspiration to focus on the contributions that women have made to superhero comics. This post will highlight a wide range of superhero stories written or illustrated by important women in the field. Without further ado, here are some more great stories to choose from: Continue reading Women In Comics: Superhero Edition