We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration by Frank Abe, Tamiko Nimura, Ross Ishikawa, and Matt Sasaki
Chin Music Press
Publication Date: May 18, 2021
We Hereby Refuse illustrates the experiences of three individuals—Jim Akutsu, Hiroshi Kashiwagi, and Mitsuye Endo—caught up in the US government’s decision during World War II to treat Japanese Americans as traitors. Betrayed and wronged by their country, they fight to keep their families together while struggling against physical and psychological violence and misleading information. However, their decision to challenge the loyalty oath contract causes problems within the US government and the Japanese American community. The choices they make will lead them to life-altering consequences.
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Himawari House by Harmony Becker
First Second / Macmillan
Publication Date: October 19, 2021
A young American, Nao, travels across the globe to attend school in Japan and to reconnect with her Japanese heritage. There, she discovers that her desire to fit in is complicated by her Americanness but finds a makeshift sense of belonging with other foreign exchange students Hyejung and Tina, who are also forging their own paths far away from home.
This coming-of-age story accurately captures the joys and pangs of young adulthood and the uncertainty of being caught between two worlds. Teens will find Nao, Hyejung, and Tina’s search for belonging, friendship, and identity both timeless and familiar. The art is at turns humorous and tender, and every character feels fully realized. A strength of this book is Becker‘s effective use of language (often phonetically described) to dismantle reductive and stereotypical ideas of bilingual speakers or speakers with accents. Instead, characters that speak in dialect, with accents, or with uneven syntax are shown to be just as deeply human, complex, and radiant as native or majority language speakers.
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They Better Call Me Sugar: My Journey from the Hood to the Hard Wood by Sugar Rodgers
Black Sheep/Akashic Books
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
WNBA All-Star Sugar Rodgers shares her story of growing up, poverty, family life, school, sports, friends, and how she eventually shaped a successful career as a professional basketball player for herself.
The author’s writing style is clear and direct, and events happen chronologically. Tough issues are covered with a matter-of-fact tone. The book is less than 200 pages and Sugar’s voice is engaging and relatable. Basketball is central to Sugar’s story but she also talks about golf, meeting Tiger Woods, and the integral role of coaches in her life.
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In the Shadow of the Fallen Towers: The Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Days, Weeks, Months, and Years after the 9/11 Attacks by Don Brown
Etch/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: August 10. 2021
Award winning author and illustrator Don Brown takes a look at the infamous 9/11 attacks and explores the tragic events of that day and its far-reaching, worldwide effects. This graphic novel encompasses the story of that day and beyond, incorporating personal stories with compelling illustrations.
Brown has managed to tell a complex story in a simplified and focused way that has the reader turning the pages quickly. The emotion of the day and the immediate aftermath is felt deeply, while moving on to the hope of recovery and the investigation into the attack’s origins. This is an easily accessible way for the reader to satisfy any curiosity surrounding that fateful day in our recent American history.
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They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, art by Harmony Becker
Top Shelf Productions / IDW Publishing
Publication Date: July 16, 2019
George Takei, best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek, tells of his family’s forced removal from their home and detention in internment camps in this graphic memoir. The drawings show the grim realities of their lives even as the text tells the story from George’s perspective as a five year old whose parents undertook heroic efforts to shelter him from their dire circumstances. George’s parents largely succeeded in protecting him from the harsh truth that they were prisoners and he still has some fond memories games, treats, and friendships in the camps. When the camps closed, the Takei family began an even more precarious existence as they struggled to rebuild their lives in a world that viewed them with suspicion and hostility. Interspersed throughout the book are depictions of milestone events in Takei’s life that demonstrated how the residual effects of a childhood spent as an “alien enemy” impacted his personal relationships, his career, and his activism.
Continue reading Quick Picks (#QP2021) Nominees Round Up, March 3 Edition
Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott, illustrated by Harmony Becker
Top Shelf Productions
Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Before he was Sulu on the starship Enterprise, boldly going where no one has gone before, George Takei was a little boy struggling to understand why his family was packing up to go live in a horse stable. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the detainment of every person of Japanese descent on the West Coast and imprisoned 120,000 people in camps for years under armed guard. Takei and his family were sent to the Santa Anita Racetrack, then to Camp Rohwer in Arkansas, and finally the notorious Tule Lake camp for “disloyals.” Readers see history in clear, concise, compelling context and follow Takei on his journey from childhood ignorance to righteous anger and awareness to a life of dedicated activism.
Continue reading Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2020) Nominees Round Up, August 22 Edition