Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: A First Time for Everything

  • A First Time for Everything
  • by Dan Santat
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Release date: February 28, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781626724150

During the summer between middle and high school, author/illustrator Dan Santat took a life-changing trip with a group of students to Europe. Santat’s graphic novel memoir recounts his childhood and early adolescence, growing up in a small, do-nothing town as a child of immigrants. After a rough middle school experience, his chronically ill mother encourages him to sign up for a three week trip with other students on a cultural exchange journey across Europe. Filled with once-in-a-lifetime firsts, Dan discovers that beneath the exterior we share with the world, we are all much more alike than different.

Illustrated in Santat’s signature style, the full-color drawings are impeccably detailed and full of humor. Readers vicariously experience all the big emotions and experiences that accompany being a teen in the transitional space between middle school and high school: big humiliation, exhilarating freedom, first crushes, and being open to what the universe has to offer, all told with an engaging, feel-good touch. Backmatter includes information on Santat’s writing process, images of souvenirs, as well as actual photos taken on his transformative European adventure.

This book will appeal to teens in the 12-15 age range, graphic novel readers, and anyone with a love of or desire to travel. Also try Passport by Sophia Glock, Messy Roots by Laura Gao, and Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

-Katy Henderson

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: December 6, 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.

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat

  • A First Time for Everything
  • by Dan Santat
  • Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication Date: February 28, 2023
  • ISBN-13: 9781626724150

A First Time for Everything is the laugh-out-loud funny memoir about the middle school field trip to Europe that changed author Dan Santat’s life. Dan was an awkward kid throughout middle school; he was picked on, he didn’t have many friends, and he was not looking forward to the school trip that his parents insisted he embark on. Once he got there, though, he experienced a series of firsts that taught him that maybe he didn’t need to change who he was – maybe he just needed to let go and live a little.

A First Time for Everything has the engaging and emotive drawing style that is Dan Santat’s standard; the facial expressions alone are so relatable and familiar to anyone who is or has been a teenager. The scenery of Europe is evocative and helps to set the tone of a completely overwhelming and life-altering experience. This book is full of personal growth without being heavy-handed, the antics are genuinely hilarious, and the relationship-building is sweet without a drop of saccharine.

Hand this to any young teen who is looking for more stories about kids who feel invisible and unpopular, like fans of Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson. Readers who loved the independent and slightly reckless vibe of All Summer Long by Hope Larsen will also enjoy this book. Finally, this title will also be an easy what-to-read-next pick for fans of Jerry Craft’s School Trip (2023) who are looking for more stories about kids of color going abroad and learning to let go of their expectations.

—Lee Stokes

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: March 14, 2023
Release Date: March 21, 2023
Release Date: August 29, 2023
Release Date: September 5, 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.