Thursday, April 4, 2013

Graphic Novel Round-Up

When I worked at the library of Twin Cities Academy, a charter middle school and high school in St. Paul, MN, one of the most popular sections was the shelf stuffed with graphic novels.

If I were still at TCA, here are three graphics from last year that I’d want to add to the collection—and push into people’s hands:

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic, 2012)

By the author/illustrator of Smile and the illustrator of the graphic adaptations of Ann Martin’s Babysitters’ Club books, Drama is a standalone, contemporary novel with appealing characters and realistic situations. 

Callie’s big love is stage and set design. She’s found her middle school “home” with the tech crew, where her best friend creates costumes. Callie works closely with a handful of guys—some of them very cute. Complications ensue. Apart from one major meltdown, our heroine keeps her head and grows in the process. Some plotlines dealing with sexual preference may make this title too mature for elementary readers, but Drama’s overall theme of finding acceptance works well for readers across a spectrum of ages.

The Golden Twine by Jo Rioux (Kids Can Press, 2012)

The first volume in what will be a series called Cat’s Cradle, this story follows the adventures of Suri, an orphan who has been traveling with a circus—much to the circus owner’s displeasure. Suri lives in the land of Galatea, where dangerous monsters small and large are still thought to roam the woods. Suri’s dream, naturally, is to become a monster tamer. Golden Twine offers just enough plot twists and parallel threads, creepy creatures and chase scenes, to make the reader impatient to find out what happens next. It’s a solid beginning for an appealing fantasy series.

The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra (Toon Books/Candlewick Press, 2012)

Like a cross between Peter Pan (where children are spirited away in the night) and a Hayao Miyazaki movie (where the world is full of fanciful creatures), Stone Frog is familiar and disturbing. It has the feel of a strange but vivid dream that you remember in full, frightening detail upon waking. 

The artwork is the real star here, recalling the work of Sir John Tenniel for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Nytra’s black-and-white drawings are detailed enough that readers (and budding artists) will want to turn the pages of this slim volume again and again.

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