YALSA-bk is a listserv with lively discussions among librarians, educators, and beyond about all things YA lit. Sometimes one listserv member will ask for help finding books around a certain theme or readalikes for a particular title. This post is a compilation of responses for one such request.
The original request Does anyone have a list of recent biographies that might be of interest to teens? My YA Biography section could use some new blood but it’s not a genre I read in overly much.
A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown
Driven by Donald Driver
This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Grace Earl
The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel
The Way I Am by Eminem
Girlbomb by Janice Erlbaum
Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus “Notch” Persson and the Game That Changed Everything by Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson, translated by Jennifer Hawkins
Lately, I’ve been wanting to branch out from my superhero reads into something a little more serious. Don’t get me wrong, there are some super serious superheroes out there (my fave right now â€“ Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads’s run on the Punisher, but I digress), but for the sake of my family and friends, I thought I would branch out and read some brand new nonfiction comics so that I could add more to the conversation than just â€œDid you know that the Punisher has a coyote now?â€ Lucky for me and other interested readers, nonfiction comics have just been getting better and better.
In fact, there are so many for me to choose from, it was hard for me to get it down to my top 5 for this post, so I narrowed my search to just books of a personal interest and biographical stories. For fans of true crime, professional wrestling or The Beatles, there’s something on this list for everyone. I hope to open it up to a broader nonfiction list later on, since I found so many great reads these past few weeks that will appeal to readers who prefer the true as opposed to the fiction. And, trust me, I was trying to think of any way possible to get something in about Batman in this, my list of favorite biographical comics, but, alas, I could not. Oh, well. We’ll get back to Batty in the weeks to come.
My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf: Okay, so this book isn’t exactly brand new, as I had promised in that opening, but this is seriously my favorite nonfiction comic of recent years, so that’s how it goes. A perfect book for older teens and adult readers interested in true crime and history, My Friend Dahmer brings readers the story of the early life of Jeffrey Dahmer, the horrific serial killer. Derf grew up with and went to Middle & High School with Jeffrey in the 1970s. And, this book is neither sensationalistic nor opportunistic. It’s a story of sadness â€“ Derf, in his narration, often wonders what, if anything, could have been done that would have prevented what happened. The black and white line drawings that Derf provides gives readers some distance from the subject matter, and his research is meticulous and documented in the bibliography at the end. (a 2013 Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection) Continue reading And Now For Something Completely Serious: Biographical Comics