Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2025) Featured Review: Lunar New Year Love Story by Gene Luen Yang and LeUyen Pham

  • Lunar New Year Love Story
  • by Gene Luen Yang and LeUyen Pham
  • First Second 
  • Publication Date: January 9, 2024
  • ISBN-13: 9781626728103

Valentina Trần has always loved Valentine’s Day, making homemade valentines for all of her friends and classmates. But when she moves to high school, her romantic view of true love is shattered when her grandmother tells her the family is cursed in love, and that Val’s own mother is not dead, as she has always believed, but in fact abandoned her family when Val was a baby. But Val isn’t quite ready to give up on true love. Hoping to avoid her family’s curse, Val makes a deal with St. Valentine—if she can’t find true love in the next year, she’ll turn her heart over to him. 

Yang pushes the rom-com trope of true love as he explores love in a variety of relationships, from friends to family. He even develops the love of one’s culture through characters that come from a diverse mix of Asian backgrounds, each bringing a unique, rich heritage to the shared celebration of the Lunar New Year. Pham supports this with expressive illustrations that show a wide range of emotions. Mostly monochromatic panels with pops of color are full of details, and highlight the drama and humor of the story.

Fans of Yang’s previous works will not be disappointed in this latest offering. Readers who enjoy sweet romantic comedies with a touch of angst, like Hockey Girl Loves Drama Boy or Super Fake Love Song will find plenty to adore in this charming romance. Those who appreciate a good love triangle will enjoy Val’s struggle to choose between two lion dancers. Recommend this to fans of lighthearted comics with colorful, expressive illustrations like Pumpkinheads or Crumbs.

-Heather Christensen

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: February 13, 2024
Release Date: October 3, 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.

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Different for Boys by Patrick Ness

  • Different for Boys
  • by Patrick Ness
  • Publisher: Walker Books
  • Release date: May 14, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781536228892

Ant Stevenson has three best friends: Charlie, Josh Smith, and Jack Taylor, and they became best friends all because they were sitting together alphabetically. Anthony “Ant” Stevenson isn’t sure when he stopped being a virgin. Or even if he has. The rules aren’t always very clear when it comes to boys who like boys. It’s different for boys when they do stuff together, like hang out. Or when they try out for soccer or football.
Content Warning: Homophobia

This is a good candidate for QPRR. It has themes of friendship, masculinity, finding oneself, and sexuality. You really feel yourself get into the story with Ant, Charlie, Josh, and Jack. It’s about boys figuring out that they might have changed, and what they want to do with their lives.

For readers who also enjoyed the Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman, and Aristotle and Dante discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

– Molly Sprague-Rice

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: March 14, 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.

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Pardalita by Joana Estrela

  • Pardalita
  • by Joana Estrela
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • Imprint: Levine Querido
  • Release date:  April 18, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781646142569

Raquel is a 16-year-old living in a very small town in Portugal. Everyone knows everyone kind of small town. It starts out with Raquel being suspended for cussing out a school aide. She has her two best friends, Luisa and Fred, to help ground her. Then she sees, for the first, Pardalita. Next thing Raquel knows is that she’s applying for the theater program to become closer to Pardalita.

I think this would be a good candidate for QPRR. It’s very much a slice of life, it’s very relatable, and deals with first loves/crushes, being an “angsty” teenager, and “coming out of your shell.” It’s very much a great book to read for any teen!

 Recommended for readers who also may have enjoyed This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, and Are you listening? by Tillie Walden.

-Molly Sprague-Rice

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: January 3, 2023
Release Date: March 7, 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.

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: Northranger by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo

  • Northranger
  • by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo
  • HarperAlley
  • Publication Date: June 6, 2023
  • ISBN-13: 9780063007383

Cade is just your average horror-loving, queer Texas teen who stays closeted in the face of his step-dad’s casual household homophobia and gender stereotyping.  When he has to help out on a ranch for the summer, sparks fly with the equally closeted rancher’s son Henry. Their budding friendship and romance is just one piece of a large web of truths that can’t be said out loud. The mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother threatens to tear them apart when Cade’s pre-disposure to translate the world through the eyes of a horror movie gets the best of him. 

Indigo’s choice of sepia tones and shaded renderings of rural and urban Texas create a perfect mood for this contemporary gothic romance take on Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Sibling squabbles, crushes, parent quarrels—all relationships—are depicted and conveyed with a surprising amount of nuance and depth within such a quick read. Teens will enjoy the tension and flow of these relationships, especially as they exist within Cade’s obsession with all things horror. Family connections, and learning to talk about uncomfortable subjects out loud, are the only things that might save the day in this wildly charming love story.

Ideal for fans of Heartstopper and Bloom, the romance and real-life complications of Northranger are beautifully portrayed. This graphic will be equally appealing to teens who find the creepiness, mystery, and tension of gothic romance especially thrilling, or for anyone who enjoys horror tropes mixed with real life. Readers who enjoy Northranger may want to also want to check out The Hills of Estrella Roja by Ashley Robin Franklin. Finally, fans of Jane Austen’s original novel and of remixes in general will find a lot to love here.

-M’issa Fleming

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: January 10, 2023
Release Date: May 9, 2023
Release Date: June 20, 2023
Release Date: August 29, 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.

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: Season of the Bruja by Aaron Durán and Sara Soler

  • Season of the Bruja, vol. 1
  • by Aaron Durán and Sara Soler
  • Publisher: Oni Press
  • Publication Date: January 24, 2023
  • ISBN-13: ‎978-1549308161

Raised by her grandmother and paranormal family friends, Althalia is one of the last brujas and is being taught to control her magic and maintain her culture. Her life drastically shifts when it turns out that the church who has persecuted her people for centuries now knows of her and her grandmother. Althalia must go through the trials of learning to control her power as her grandmother wishes, while uncovering family secrets and a vast array of emotions in the process.

Season of the Bruja, vol. 1 is a fast-paced and action-packed graphic story with a center of family, friendship, and culture. It has exorcisms, Chupacabra’s, and were-coyotes–oh my! But the magic enhances the storytelling without overwhelming it, and character emotions still shine through.

Those who are interested in the magic and paranormal combined with everyday life should read Kelly Thompson’s Sabrina The Teenage Witch comics. For those who want more of the action, look for the new comic adaptation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Jordie Bellaire and Dan Mora. For teens who want more Latine representation in witchcraft, pick up Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas or the Brooklyn Brujas series by Zoraida Córdova.

—Cheyenne Sons

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: February 14, 2023
Release Date: March 14, 2023
Release Date: May 2, 2023
Release Date: June 27, 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.

Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Nervosa by Haley Gold

  • Nervosa
  • by Hayley Gold
  • Publisher: Street Noise Books
  • Release date: April 4, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781951491246

Hayley Gold gives the inside story of what it is like to suffer from Anorexia Nervosa. She was a teen who was put into a program for her survival. There, she learned tricks to hide weight loss and stave off weight gain, even though counselors were all over her for her own health and safety. A realistic peek at the compulsions someone suffering from Anorexia must battle.

This graphic novel fits the criteria for quick picks because it is easy to read, and the color coordination of the different characters talking, as well as the extreme honesty she writes with, will make this a compelling read for anyone. 

This novel might also appeal to readers who are struggling with body image who might be considering dieting or calorie counting. For read-alikes consider Wintergirls by Laurie Halse-Anderson or Elena Vanishing by Elena Dunkle.

-Michael Fleming

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: December 6, 2022
Release Date: February 28, 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.

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.

Cute and Creepy Autumn Anime for Book Lovers

I love horror, but sometimes I crave a little sweetness mixed in with my scary stories. If you too enjoy some cuddles with your creep-outs here are a few anime titles that you may enjoy! Continue reading Cute and Creepy Autumn Anime for Book Lovers

From Page To Screen: A ‘We Need Diverse Books’ Wish List

image from Flickr user Kenneth Lu (https://www.flickr.com/photos/toasty/)
image from Flickr user Kenneth Lu (https://www.flickr.com/photos/toasty/)

As the number of film adaptations set to be released  in the 2015 illustrates, Hollywood seems firmly committed to turning to the world of young adult fiction for inspiration–and box office success.  While this trend is exciting for YA fiction fans, the lack of the diversity present in the stories selected remains disheartening. While planning a recent movie night at my library, I was freshly reminded of this problem and as usual, I took to Twitter to share my frustration.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 8.18.12 PM

The ensuing discussion was vibrant and, inspired,  I polled friends & colleagues to develop a wish list of diverse young adult novels we’d like to see on the silver screen.

everything leads to youEverything Leads To You – Nina LaCour (2015 Rainbow List, 2015 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Talented young set designer Emi is spending the summer before college with her best friend Charlotte in Emi’s older brother’s apartment when an estate sale & a mysterious letter brings Ava into her life. But despite their immediate, electric connection, Emi & Ava each have pain in their past and their path to happily ever after will be far from simple.  Between Emi and Ava’s “will they or won’t they” chemistry, great supporting characters and an intriguing setting, you’ve got the perfect rom-com of the summer!

One Man GuyOne Man Guy – Michael Barakiva (2015 Rainbow List)

Alek Khederian assumed that summer school will be an extension of his horrible freshman year; he never expected that it would lead him to Ethan.  Alek can’t imagine why someone like confident skateboarder Ethan wants to hang out with him and when romantic sparks start to fly between them, Alek will have re-evaluate everything he knew about himself. This novel isn’t just a lovely coming of age tale–it’s a love letter to New York City and Alek’s Armenian heritage featuring a built-in soundtrack of Rufus Wainwright songs. Continue reading From Page To Screen: A ‘We Need Diverse Books’ Wish List