Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2025) Featured Review: The Fox Maiden by Robin Ha

  • The Fox Maidens
  • by Robin Ha
  • Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins
  • Publication Date: February 13, 2024
  • ISBN-13: 9780062685124

All Kai Song wants to be is a warrior like her father, who happens to be commander of the Royal Legion. While her father does train her in martial arts, the rest of her community isn’t ready for a woman to be a warrior; not to mention, they believe that she is the granddaughter of Gumiho, the nine-tailed fox demon. On the day Kai starts her first period, she starts experiencing strange changes and finally learns about her mother’s past. At the same time, the family is targeted by assassins. Kai must maneuver all of this and learn to fight her own destiny to become who she wants to be.

The Fox Maidens takes a traditional Korean legend and turns it into a queer retelling featuring a strong female lead. Explanations before the story that describe the origins of the myth aid in world-building. The bold illustrations and vibrant colors draw you into the story so that you can almost feel the characters moving around you. Ha keeps you engaged throughout this fast-paced story that has both action and romance.

Readers who enjoyed the courageous lead in Squire by Nadia Shammas and Jen Wang’s romance in The Princess and the Dressmaker would enjoy this read. Anyone that has delved into the world of fantasy Korean Dramas similar to A Korean Odyssey or Guardian: The Great and Lonely God would also find this read very entertaining.

—Jessica Duong

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: October 10, 2023
Release Date: September 26, 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.

Graphic Novels Overview, Part One: Format Guide

What is a Graphic Novel

The graphic novel is a distinct literary format that employs sequential art in the form of comic-strip-style illustrations throughout a book-length work to tell a complete narrative. Unlike traditional written books, graphic novels use shorter sentences and rely heavily on images to communicate the story. The sequential art in graphic novels is not just a complement to the written text; it is the driving force behind the story. The artwork is essential to the graphic novel format, much like the importance of visuals in a children’s picture book. The artwork in graphic novels collaborates with the text to create a cohesive storytelling experience. Unlike illustrated children’s picture books that often embellish the written text, the artwork in graphic novels collaborates with the text to create a cohesive storytelling experience. Graphic novels are longer than comic books and provide a cohesive storyline within a single volume.

Graphic novels, like comics and manga, use panels to organize the narratives. These panels are often presented as boxed segments that contain scenes or parts of scenes in the story and are divided by blank space known as the “gutter.” Graphic novels also use speech and thought bubbles, emanata, and captions to tell a story to readers. Unlike most comic books and manga series, graphic novels are usually published as regular bound books. They are more likely to be standalone works, but like other novels, they can be turned into a series.

Definitions by The Graphic Library

Comic books: are serialized stories featuring comic drawings, generally following the adventures of superheroes, villains, etc. These are usually presented in a single-issue, paperback format.

Graphic Novel: A story told with sequential, illustrated panels.

Original Graphic Novel (OGN): a story published in a full-length graphic novel without being published as single-issue floppies first.

Online Resources

Books to Learn More

Awards

-Stephanie Mahar

Stephanie’s Favorites

  • Huda F Are You?
  • by Huda Fahmy
  • Publisher: Dial Books
  • Release Date: November 23, 2021
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-9
  • ISBN: 9780593324318
  • The Legend of Auntie Po
  • by Shing Yin Khor
  • Publisher: Kokila
  • Release Date: June 15, 2021
  • Reading Level: Gr. 5-9
  • ISBN: 978-0525554899
  • Squad
  • By Maggie Tokuda-Hall & Lisa Sterle
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books
  • Release Date: October 5, 2021
  • Reading Level: Gr. 9-12
  • ISBN: 978-0062943149
  • Other Ever Afters: New Queer Fairy Tales
  • by Melanie Gillman
  • Publisher: Random House Graphic
  • Release Date: September 20, 2022
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-9
  • ISBN: 978-0593303184
  • Almost American Girl 
  • By Robin Ha
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray
  • Release Date: January 28, 2020
  • Reading Level: Gr. 8-12
  • ISBN: 978-0062685094
  • The Magic Fish 
  • By Trung Le Nguyen
  • Publisher: Random House Graphic
  • Release Date: October 13, 2020
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12
  • ISBN: 978-1984851598
  • Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me
  • By Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Release Date: May 7, 2019
  • Reading Level: Gr. 8-12
  • ISBN: 978-1626722590
  • Mooncakes
  • By Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu
  • Publisher: Oni Press
  • Release Date: October 15, 2019
  • Reading Level: Gr. 8-12
  • ISBN: 978-1549303043
  • Check, Please! Book 1: # Hockey 
  • By Ngozi Ukazu 
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Release Date: September 18, 2018
  • Reading Level: Gr. 8-12
  • ISBN: 978-1250177964
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker
  • By Jen Wang
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Release Date: February 13, 2018
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12
  • ISBN: 978-1626723634
  • Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story 
  • By Debbie Tung
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
  • Release Date: November 7, 2017
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12
  • ISBN: 978-1449486068
  • Nimona 
  • By N.D. Stevenson
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
  • Release Date: May 12, 2015
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12
  • ISBN: 978-0062278227

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2021) Nominees Round Up, June 9 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha
Harper Teen / HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
ISBN: 978-0062685100

In 1995, Robin and her mother move from South Korea to Alabama, U.S.A.  Forced from the known into the unknown, Robin is forced to learn a new language, navigate the ins and outs of American high school and share a home with family she has never met before. When things don’t turn out quite the way Robin’s mother had expected, Robin encounters another drastic change in an unexpected second move. Will this one be better than the last?

Continue reading Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2021) Nominees Round Up, June 9 Edition

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2021) Nominees Round Up, April 16 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
ISBN: 9780062685100

Chuna Ha is a South Korean girl who finds herself abruptly moved from her comfortable life in Seoul to Alabama once her vacation abroad turns into a new marriage for her mother. When her Mom marries Mr. Kim, Chuna finds herself surrounded by her new Korean American family. At first, Chuna struggles to find common ground with her classmates and has a difficult time learning English. To fit in more, she chooses an American name: Robin. After enrolling in a drawing class, Robin befriends Jessica, another comic book artist. When her mother’s marriage to Mr. Kim is on the rocks, her mother decides to move the two of them to Virginia. This move is close to D.C. and Robin is happy to see lots of international students, including fellow Korean students. As an adult, Robin returns to Seoul to visit with her old school friends and finds that she no longer completely fits in with Korean culture. When she returns to the U.S., she begins to think of her identity as Korean American, as she identifies with both cultures.

Continue reading Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2021) Nominees Round Up, April 16 Edition

Women in Comics: Cooking Comics (with Recipes Included!)

Since I first read Relish by Lucy Knisley, I have been fascinated by comics that integrate cooking and recipes with an engaging story. Though the books on this list are very different from one another, they all share a focus on the joy that can come from food and cooking. Whether you hope to one day be a professional chef or simply enjoy a good meal, these books are sure to nourish the mind as well as the body.

Kitchen Princess, Omnibus Volume 1 coverSpace Battle Lunchtime coverCook Korean cover

Kitchen Princess by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi – As a child, Najika met a boy who comforted her at her time of need. Now that she is older – and an expert with food – she is on a quest to find him, a quest which takes her all the way to the fancy Seika Academy. Once there, she must use her cooking talents to win over skeptical classmates and find the boy from her childhood. Along the way, she wins a prestigious cooking competition, helps to revitalize a café, tackles difficult topics like eating disorders and learns a lot about her special skills. This manga will appeal to shōjo fans and includes recipes and extras with each volume. Continue reading Women in Comics: Cooking Comics (with Recipes Included!)