Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: Pardalita by Joana Estrala

  • Pardalita
  • by Joana Estrela
  • Publisher: Levine Querido
  • Publication Date: April 19, 2023
  • ISBN-13: 978-1646142569

Being 16 is never easy, but it feels more complicated for Raquel than it should be. Her parents’ divorce is wreaking havoc because everyone in this small town in Portugal seems to know about her father’s new marriage, and her mother seems to only have time to find herself, not to help Raquel cope with her changing circumstances. Even though she has her best friends, Luisa and Fred, and Miquel, her boyfriend, Raquel feels like an irregular verb that doesn’t quite fit everything around her. Raquel’s growing fascination with senior Pardalita exacerbates the feeling of otherness. Their friendship grows as they work together on a local theater production, and Raquel begins to realize what her feelings really mean.

Pardalita is a stylistically complex and engaging read for fans of character-driven coming-of-age stories, employing a mix of prose, verse, and graphic panels that makes the whole book feel ethereal. The dynamic black-and-white illustrations complement and enhance the story moving from concrete to abstract, much like Raquel’s thoughts, and grow from white-space dominant to page-filling spreads reflecting Raquel and Pardalita’s developing relationship.

Recommend Pardalita to readers who enjoy queer awakening stories such as Girl from the Sea by Molly Ostertag and Heartstopper by Alice Oseman. For other authentic LGBTQIA+ relationship stories, hand readers Only on the Weekends by Dean Atta and The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver.

—Patricia Jimenez

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: November 29, 2023
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Release Date: February 21, 2023

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.