Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of Other Boys by Damian Alexander

Other Boys by Damien Alexander
First Second
Publication Date: September 28, 2021
ISBN: 9781250222824

Damien is a gay seventh grader at a new school accustomed to being bullied for not being like “other boys.” His home life is less than ideal, and he has always experienced bullying from family and classmates because of the things he enjoys that are considered “girly,” like dolls. He also prefers the company of girls, which makes other boys target him for bullying even more so. Things only become more confusing for Damian when he begins having crushes on boys, even though they’re almost all mean to him.

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of Mister Miracle by Varian Johnson and Daniel Isles

Mister Miracle: the Great Escape by Varian Johnson and Daniel Isles
DC Comics
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
ISBN: 9781779501257

Scott Free, an orphan raised at the Goodness Academy on the abysmal world known as Apokolips, is making plans to escape to Earth. Unfortunately, he has caught the attention of Granny Goodness and her Female Furies, specifically their new leader, Big Barda. However, against all the odds, Scott and Barda find common ground and their friendship turns into a romance. This new relationship is put to the test as Scott’s escape plan becomes more urgent, and both teenagers’ secrets are revealed. To accomplish the impossible, Scott will have to live up to his nickname, Mister Miracle. 

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Nominations Round-Up, Winter

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Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.

The Apothecary Diaries, v.2. By Natsu Hyuuga. Art by Nekokurage. Square Enix Manga, $10.99 (9781646090716). 

Maomao’s adventures as the official royal test taster continue! In this volume, Maomao faces the intrigues of the royal court while dealing with poisoning attempts against the Emperor’s wives.

Asadora! v.4. By Naoki Urasawa. VIZ Media / VIZ Signature, $14.99 (9781974722969). 

A lighthouse has been attacked by something resembling a giant creature, and Asa is called in by the government to find the monster before the Tokyo Olympics. With the monster’s reappearance, Asa continues the search for her family.

Blue Flag, v.8. By KAITO. VIZ Media, $12.99 (9781974720941). 

The conclusion of Blue Flag sees almost everyone’s secrets revealed and concludes the main characters’ romantic arcs.

Blue Giant Omnibus, v.1-2. By Shinichi Ishizuka. 2020. Seven Seas Entertainment, $19.99 (9781645058649). 

Dai is graduating soon, and while his friends are all cramming for exams, he spends every day playing his sax. Dai is going to be the world’s greatest jazz musician, and to be the best, he will need more than just passion.

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration by Frank Abe, Tamiko Nimura, Ross Ishikawa, and Matt Sasaki

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
ISBN: 9781634059763

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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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Heaven’s Design Team, v. 1–4 by Hebi-zou, Tsuta Suzuki, and Tarako

Heaven’s Design Team, v. 1–4 by Hebi-zou, Tsuta Suzuki, and Tarako
Kodansha Comics / Kodansha USA
Publication Date: October 20, 2020; December 9, 2020; February 23, 2021; March
30, 2021
ISBN: 9781645611136, 9781646511297, 9781646511303, 9781646511310

Instead of creating every individual animal, God decided to outsource the work to a design team. The team of angels consists of six designers, an engineer who tests if the animals will function in the real world, and two liaisons who act as project managers. Volume one opens on new liaison Shimoda’s first day, and we follow along as he meets the team and learns how the designers work to create animals that fit God’s often vague specifications. Each chapter closes with a few short encyclopedia entries on the real animals that are featured.

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Run: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury, and Nate Powell

Run: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury, and Nate Powell
Abrams ComicArts / Abrams Books
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
ISBN: 9781419730696

The song “We Shall Overcome” comes to mind as you read the graphic novel memoir of the great John Lewis. His memoir centers on illuminating the reality of our country’s battle with racism. From sharing the history of the Vietnam War to showing the challenges of voting as Black Americans—and the brutal treatment that Black people endure just to advocate for equality—each moment can be felt, seen, and heard as you turn the pages of this memoir. This nonfiction graphic novel is a great tool to supplement textbooks.

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of That Full Moon Feeling by Ashley Robin Franklin

That Full Moon Feeling Cover Art

That Full Moon Feeling by Ashley Robin Franklin
Silver Sprocket
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
ISBN: 9781945509562

A witch and a werewolf meet on a dating app in this short, magical, queer romance graphic novel. Suzy and Jada attempt three dates with varying degrees of success. Each date sees something go horribly wrong, whether it’s fantastical villains—such as attacking skeletons and monsters—or more relatably, exes who haven’t gotten over them. The story ends openly, allowing readers to imagine a possible future (or not) for Suzy and Jada.

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Himawari House by Harmony Becker

Himawari House Cover Art

Himawari House by Harmony Becker
First Second / Macmillan
Publication Date: October 19, 2021
ISBN: 9781250235565

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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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of The Leak by Kate Reed Petty and Andrea Bell


The Leak
by Kate Reed Petty and Andrea Bell
 
First Second / Macmillan
Publication Date: March 16, 2021 
ISBN: 9781250217950 

Middle school student Ruth Keller is an aspiring news reporter who questions authority at every turn. When she discovers a strange black substance on the banks of her favorite lake, she throws herself into an investigation. As the pieces of the puzzle start to come together, Ruth thinks she has all the answers, but this story is going to put everything she thinks she knows about journalism to the test. When the spotlight finally shines on Ruth, she is forced to consider tough decisions that may impact her reputation as a reporter and even her closest relationships. 

The Leak is a compelling title for younger readers with strong middle school appeal. The narrative is excellent at both showing and telling the reader how to evaluate information without sacrificing the story. While Ruth’s investigation is at the heart of the book, she is also navigating changing relationships with family, friends, and a possible romantic interest. She is dismissed and lectured to by some adults, and readers will relate to her frustrations when it seems like no one is listening to or respecting her.  

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Cyclopedia Exotica by Aminder Dhaliwal

Cyclopedia Exotica by Aminder Dhaliwal
Drawn & Quarterly
Publication Date: May 11, 2021
ISBN: 9781770464377

In this thought-provoking and humorous comic, six cyclopes negotiate love, life, and the pressures of being “other” within the dominant “two-eyed” culture. Readers are introduced to characters including Etna, a ground-breaking cover model; Pol and Latea, lonely cyclopes looking for love; Bron, whose self-hatred led him to failed eye surgery; and Pari, a young woman with a two-eyed spouse who’s about to become a mother. The stories take place in everyday spaces of interaction, ranging from dog parks to doctors’ offices, highlighting the subtle bigotry hidden in even the most mundane of places. 

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