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Collecting Comics: March 2018 with Ally Watkins

Check out these March-releasing comics that your teens and tweens will love!

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Archival Quality by Ivy Noelle Weir, illustrated by Steenz (Oni Press, March 6). Cel starts working as an archivist at the Logan Museum, but the job may not be everything she’s hoping for. Cel starts to dream of a woman she’s never met, and as she tries to learn more about her, strange things start happening–misplacing things, losing time–but she can’t seem to let go. Who’s the mysterious woman and why is Cel so drawn to her?

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The Altered History of Willow Sparks by Tara O’Connor (Oni Press, March 6). Willow is just about as low on the popularity scale of her high school as you can be. Until she finds a mysterious book that has the power to literally change her life. With each entry in the book, she becomes more popular, but her old life and friendships get farther and farther away. Willow is starting to discover that every action has a reaction and that this social experiment might not turn out the way she thinks it will.

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Brazen: Rebel Ladies who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu (First Second, March 6). Bagieu compiles a comic biography of a variety of women who have rebelled and changed the world in various ways. Some of the women are well known, and some aren’t, but all are rebels. Great nonfiction title for teens!

Invincible Iron Man: Ironheart: Volume 1: Riri Williams by Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by Stefano Caselli (Marvel, March 6). Riri Williams has her own Iron Man suit and the newest, best technology, and she’s ready to try her hand at this superhero thing. But she’s got a lot to deal with: super villains, super-teams trying hard to recruit her, and her adventures going viral. Is she ready for this? Collects issues #1-#5 of the comic book series. Your superhero fans will love the introduction of a new teenage superhero character!

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 7: I’ve Been Waiting for a Squirrel Like You by Ryan North, illustrated by Erica Henderson (Marvel, March 13). Doreen and Nancy enter a programming contest and they don’t expect the prize to be a trip to The Savage Land. Will Squirrel Girl get to fight a dinosaur?? Collects issues #22-#26 of the comic book series.

The Unstoppable Wasp, Volume 2: Agents of G.I.R.L. by Jeremy Whitley, illustrated by Elsa Charretier (Marvel, March 13). The Red Room wants Nadia back, and they’re gunning to get her there. This means the geniuses of G.I.R.L. are taking on their first real science challenge! Can they outsmart the Red Room, or will Nadia be forced back into captivity? Collects issues #5-#8 of the comic book series.

Giant Days Volume 7 by John Allison, illustrated by and Max Sarin and Liz Fleming (BOOM! Studios, March 27). Susan, Daisy, and Esther continue their second year at university and this semester includes: protests, family reunions, and an MMORPG wedding. Collects issues #25-#28 of the comic book series.

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Secret Coders: Potions and Parameters by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Mike Holmes (First Second, March 27). In the fifth Secret Coders book, The Coders have found Hopper’s dad–but he’s not the same. He’s had some of Professor One-Zero’s “green pop” concoction that makes him obsessed with the color green. The Professor won’t stop until the whole town is in a green stupor! Can the Coders stop him? Your younger comics readers will love this series!

BONUS NON-COMIC:

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: 2 Fuzzy 2 Furious by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale (Marvel Press, March 6). Doreen Green, age 14, also happens to be Squirrel Girl, a middle school superhero! In this next installment of her adventures, a new mall is opening up between two neighboring towns, and everyone gets to vote on the mascot! But soon the two towns are at war over the election, and Doreen begins to wonder if there isn’t something shady going on in Shady Oaks.

Collecting Comics: February 2018 by Ally Watkins

Happy February! Here are some comics and graphic novels that your teens and tweens will be asking for this month.

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Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Emily Carroll (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, February 6). This is a graphic novel adaptation of the award-winning novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Melinda is working through something that happened to her over the summer, but no one will talk to her, much less listen to her after she got a party busted up by the cops. Through her work on an art project, she starts to come to terms with what happened to her. Carroll is an Eisner-award winning illustrator.

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Scales & Scoundrels Volume 1: Into the Dragon’s Maw by Sebastian Girner, illustrated by Galaad (Image, February 13). Treasure hunter Luvander is tired of being a penniless adventurer, so she sets off on a journey to a fabled labyrinth of a dungeon, at the end of which is rumored to have endless wealth…or certain doom. Along the way, she collects a merry band of companions, each of whom have their own motives and secrets. Collects issues #1-#5 of the comic series.

The Backstagers, Vol. 2 by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Ryan Sygh (BOOM! Box, February 13). Jory and the rest of the Backstagers only want to put on the best show possible, but that’s hard when weird things are happening backstage. When an actor goes missing, the Backstagers must band together and keep the balance of the theatre! Collects issues #5-#8 of the comic series.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (First Second, February 13). Frances is a dressmaker pulled into a dazzling world–making dresses for the Crown Prince Sebastian of Belgium as he spends his nights dazzling Paris as Lady Crystallia! But Frances is Sebastian’s secret, which means she can’t pursue her own dreams. Will they ever be realized?

Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess Book 4: Two Ships in the Night by Jeremy Whitley, illustrated by Xenia Pamfil (Action Lab Entertainment, February 20).  A night of revelry takes a sharp turn and Raven and her crew are taken off guard. Can they fight off invaders and keep their ship on course?

Lumberjanes, Vol. 8 by Shannon Waters and Kat Leyh, illustrated by Ayme Sotuyo (BOOM! Box, February 20). The Roanoke cabin Lumberjanes are distressed to find that their Zodiac cabin pals have all been turned to stone! Can they find out what caused it without looking the wrong thing in the eye and turning to stone themselves?

Cucumber Quest: The Ripple Kingdom by Gigi D.G. (First Second, February 27). After a surprise attack at sea, Cucumber finds himself in the Ripple Kingdom, where a giant terrible squid monster is holding his friends hostage! Can he save them?

Collecting Comics: January 2018, by Ally Watkins

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Welcome to the January 2018 edition of Collecting Comics! Here are some comics to put in your collection for your teens and tweens for the New Year!

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Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, Volume 2: Masks by Kelly Thompson, illustrated by Leonard Romero (Marvel, January 2). Kate Bishop aka Hawkeye (not that Hawkeye) finally gets a lead on the case that brought her out to LA in the first place, but to solve it, she’ll have to take a good, hard look at who she is and where she came from. Is she ready for that? Collects issues #7-#12 of the comic book series. Your superhero fans will love this one.

Gwenpool, the Unbelievable, Volume 4: Beyond the Fourth Wall by Christopher Hastings, illustrated by Gurihuru (Marvel, January 2). Gwen Poole is everyone’s favorite character from the “real” world. But the longer she’s in the Marvel Universe, the more her powers seem to fade. Maybe she needs a trip back to her world to recharge–but if she does that, will she be able to make it back to the MU? Collects issues #16-#20 of the comic book series. Give this to your patrons that are a fan of meta storytelling and humor.

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Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Volume 4: Girl-Moon by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, illustrated by Natacha Bustos (Marvel, January 9). It’s Lunella Lafayette’s biggest adventure ever as she and Devil Dinosaur venture through the cosmos. And if they make it back, they may find their Earth a little bit..changed? Who are Devil Girl and Moon Dinosaur and what have they done to her neighborhood??? Collects issues #19-#24 of the comic book series. Lunella is great for a wide variety of readers!

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Elsewhere, Volume 1 by Jay Faerber, illustrated by Sumeyye Kesgin (Image Comics, January 9). The thrilling story of what really happened to Amelia Earhart. Transported to a mysterious new world filled with alien creatures and flying animals, Amelia tries desperately to return home! Along the way she makes friends and finds herself in the middle of a rebellion against an alien warlord. Collects issues #1-#4 of the comic book series.

BOOM! Box Mix Tape (BOOM! Box, January 9). A collection of short comics from fan favorites and BOOM! Box stars. Inludes both original comics and new stories from BOOM! favorites like Lumberjanes, Goldie Vance, Giant Days and The Backstagers.

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Dream of the Butterfly, Volume 1: Rabbits on the Moon by Richard Marazano, illustrated by Luo Yin (Lion Forge, January 23). Tutu is blown away from her home by a giant blizzard, and she finds herself in a strange village filled with talking animals. It’s always winter here and the rabbits of the secret police find her guilty of a horrible crime: being a little girl! Nominated for the Angoulême Festival Youth Prize.

Olympians: Hermes: Tales of the Trickster by George O’Connor (First Second, January 30). O’Connor is back again with another installment of his wildly popular series based on Greek mythology. In this tenth volume, he delves into the myth of the trickster god Hermes who bewitches animals to bend them to his will, steals herds of animals, and generally causes chaos wherever he goes. Your patrons that like mythology, wit, and great storytelling will eat this one up!

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Wires and Nerve, Volume 2: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin (Feiwel and Friends, January 30). The second installment of Wires and Nerves picks up where the Lunar Chronicles left off as Iko, Cinder, and the gang fight against rogue soldiers to try and unite Earth and Luna. Fans of the Lunar Chronicles will be delighted that there’s more to the story! These books will especially delight fans of Iko.

BONUS NON COMICS:

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Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith (Marvel Press, January 2). T’Challa is the young prince of the nation of Wakanda and he likes nothing more than getting into trouble with his best friend M’Baku. But as conflict brews in Wakanda, his father the king announces he’s sending T’Challa and M’Baku to school in the United States. Will they be able to survive both the ins and outs of middle school and also solve the strange things that start happening all while hiding T’Challa’s true identity?

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Runaways: An Original Novel by Christopher Golden (Marvel Press, January 2). Nico, Karolina, Gert, Chase, and Molly are on the run again, hiding out and trying not to get killed. But kids with superpowers and abilities don’t get to have normal lives.

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Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu (Random House Books for Young Readers, January 2). Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. And he makes some bad mistakes. Sentenced to community service at Arkham Asylum, he meets a girl. Who will only talk to him. Who has a strange connection to the nightwalkers terrorizing the city. Is he convincing her to help him, or is she just using him to destroy the city’s elite? And is he next on her list?

Collecting Comics: December 2017 Edition, by Ally Watkins

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Welcome to the December 2017 edition of Collecting Comics! Here are a few suggestions of things coming out this month that your teens and tweens will enjoy!

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Gotham Academy, Second Semester, Volume 2: The Ballad of Olive Silverlock by Brendan Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, and Karl Kerschl, illustrated by Adam Archer (DC Comics, December 5). In this final volume of the popular Gotham Academy series, we learn the fate of Olive, who has been possessed by her ancestor, Amity Arkham, who wants nothing more than to destroy Gotham City. Will the rest of the Detective Club be able to save her? Collects issues #9-#12 and #4 of the comic book series. This one features a lot of Gotham references, so give it to your Batman fans.

I Am Groot by Chris Hastings, illustrated by Flaviano (Marvel, December 5). When the Guardians of the Galaxy get stuck in a wormhole, a small Groot finds himself on his own in an alien world where no one can understand him. He must make a journey to the center of the world if he wants to find his family again! Collects issues #1-#5 of the comic book series.

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Star Wars: Rogue One Graphic Novel Adaptation by Allesandro Ferrari (IDW Publishing, December 12). This graphic adaptation of the popular Rogue One film features Jyn Erso, daughter of the Death Star’s creator, who is trying to save her father from Imperial control and steal the plans for the Death Star. Leads directly into the opening scene of Episode IV. All of your young Star Wars fans will be lining up for this one.

Lumberjanes Volume 7: A Bird’s-Eye View by Shannon Waters and Kat Leyh, illustrated by Carey Pietsch, Ayme Sotuyo, and Maarta Laiho (BOOM! Box, December 12). The High Council is coming to camp for inspection and everyone is trying to make everything perfect, even though there’s a storm brewing and kittens from the boy’s camp are manifesting magic powers. The multiple Eisner-award winning series is back with a new trade volume! Collects issues #25-#28 of the comic book series. Lumberjanes is perfect for fans of summer camp adventures and friendship stories.

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Brave Chef Brianna by Sam Sykes, illustrated by Selina Espiritu (BOOM! Studios, December 12). Brianna has big cooking dreams. She wants to open her own restaurant. But the only place she can afford to do it is in Monster City…where she’s the only human. Will her restaurant succeed?? Collects the entire limited series.

Misfit City Volume 1 by Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith and Kurt Lustgarten, illustrated by Naomi Franquiz (BOOM! Box, December 19).  Nothing fun has happened in Wilder’s hometown since they filmed a cult classic movie there in the 80s. But then she and her friends happen upon a centuries-old pirate map…and they discover their town might not be so boring after all! Collects issues #1-#4 of the comic book series. Give this one to your adventure readers.

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Ms. Marvel Volume 8: Mecca by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona (Marvel, December 26). An old enemy resurfaces and begins to target those closest to intrepid teenage hero Kamala Khan. She begins to suspect that something even more sinister is at work. Collects issues #19-#24 of the comic book series. Your superhero fans will love Ms. Marvel, the Pakistani-American teen trying to balance family, friends, and superhero-ing in her hometown of Jersey City.

See you in 2018!

C2: Collecting Comics for September and October 2017 with Ally Watkins

Today, librarian extraordinaire Ally Watkins begins her new monthly feature where she talks to us about comics and graphic novels to help us all with our collection development. Thanks Ally!

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Do your young students and patrons love comics? Are you constantly on the hunt for more? Here are some suggestions for comics and graphic novels coming out in September and October that your tween and teen friendos will inhale!

September

Older Than Dirt by Don Brown and Michael Perfit (HMH Book for Young Readers, September 5) A one of a kind, wild, nonfiction history of the earth by Sibert Honor medalist Don Brown and scientist Dr. Michael Perfit. Booklist’s starred review says: “Brown and scientific consultant Perfit provide an astonishingly comprehensive overview and manage to humanize it with witty asides from the woodchuck and worm who serve as surrogate teacher and student.” Your middle school nonfiction readers will check this one out instantly.

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All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson (Dial Books, September 5) From the author/illustrator of the widely loved and Newbery Honor book Roller Girl comes a new graphic novel! Impy has grown up with two parents working at the Renaissance Faire and she’s excited that she’s old enough to train as a squire herself. But first comes a new adventure: she’s going to school for the first time after being homeschooled her whole life. Her new friends seem really nice…until they don’t. How will Impy handle her new life? TLT’s review can be found here.

Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 by Alex Alice (First Second, September 12) Check out the steampunk adventure that Booklist calls “a rollicking good time”! What if the world developed space exploration in 1869 instead of 1969? A son on the hunt for his missing mother, spies, royal drama, and more!

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Spinning by Tillie Walden (First Second, September 12) For years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s entire life—practices for hours a day and on weekends, competitions, and more. But as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love for the first time, she began to question—was this what she really wanted? A moving teen graphic memoir, TLT’s review can be found here.

Jonesy Volume 3 by Sam Humphries, illustrated by Caitlin Rose Boyle (BOOM! Box, September 19) Jonesy is back at it again in the third trade paperback of her comic adventures. Jonesy is a normal teen except for one thing: she has the power to make people fall in love! The catch is, it doesn’t work on herself. Collects issues #9-12 of the comic book series.

October

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Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani (First Second, October 3) Priyanka Das has a lot of unanswered questions, about her mother’s former life in India, about her father, and about her own identity. All Pri’s questions might be answered when she finds a magical pashmina scarf that transports her to the India of her dreams. But is it the real thing? And can it be as good as it seems? Check out the graphic novel that SLJ called a “dazzling blend of realistic fiction and fantasy.”

Cucumber Quest: The Donut Kingdom by Gigi D.G (First Second, October 10) A pun-filled MG graphic novel about, well, mostly bunnies. Cucumber the magician and his little sister Almond, a knight-in-training, set out to find the Dream Sword, the only thing powerful enough to defeat the Evil Queen Cordelia’s Nightmare Knight! Give this to your kids who love adventure, humor, and fantasy.

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I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson and John Jennings (Tu Books, October 15) In this YA graphic novel, Alfonso Jones is killed by an off-duty police officer. This story is about his afterlife, where he meets other victims of shootings, and also his family, who are fighting for justice. Kirkus calls it “painfully important.”

Giant Days Volume 6 by John Allison, illustrated by Max Sarin, inked by Liz Fleming (BOOM! Box, October 24) Giant Days is an excellent crossover title that your older teens will love. Esther, Susan, and Daisy have started their second year of university and they’re now living in their own off-campus housing! But does that really make them grownups? Collects issues #21-24 of the comic book series.

Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña (Getty Publications, October 24) A personal graphic memoir of the life of renowned Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide, written by award winning YA author Isabel Quintero and illustrated by Zeke Peña. Gorgeous black and white illustrations help tell the story of Iturbide, whose career has taken her all over her native Mexico and the world. May be of special interest to the budding artists in your classrooms and libraries.

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The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill (Oni Press, October 31) The author/illustrator of the adorable Princess Princess Ever After is back with The Tea Dragon Society. After discovering a lost tea dragon, Greta learns about the old art of caring for tea dragons. As she meets the owners of the tea dragon shop and the people in their lives, she begins to understand how lives can be enriched by these creatures. Gorgeous art will make your kids want their own tea dragons and might even inspire some fanart.

The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag (Graphix, October 31)  A middle grade graphic novel about a world in which the boys become shapeshifters and the girls become witches. Period. Anyone who crosses these line is exiled. But Aster is 13 and still hasn’t shifted. And he’s fascinated by witchery. This story has already been optioned for feature film by Fox Animation.

Riverdale Volume 1 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, illustrated by Alitha Martinez and Joe Eisma (Archie Comics, October 31) Not published specifically as YA, this comic will have a lot of crossover appeal for your young fans of the show. The first trade paperback collection of the comics that are set specifically in the universe of the popular CW show.

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BONUS NON COMIC: Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Brooklyn Allen (Amulet Books, October 10). The Lumberjanes are crossing over into middle grade novels! The five Scouts of Roanoke Cabin–Molly, Jo, Ripley, Mal, and April–are ready for a new adventure climbing the tallest mountain they’ve ever seen! Of course, it doesn’t exactly go as planned. Hijinks ensue; also unicorns. Your Lumberjanes-loving readers will be so thrilled to see their faves in a new format!

Book Review: Prison Island, a Graphic Memoir by Colleen Frakes

prisonislandThe other day a fellow librarian contacted me and said she needed some good YA nonfiction recommendations, to which I replied PRISON ISLAND!

Prison Island is a memoir told in graphic novel format about McNeil Island in the state of Washington. It was one of the last remaining prison islands. Colleen Frake’s family was one of the families that lived and worked on the island. It’s an interesting life and the book brings it vividly to life in both words and pictures. As I read I couldn’t help but think about what a great companion piece this would be to Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko.

Prison Island is published by Zest Books, one of my favorite publisher’s for quirky YA nonfiction, and you can find sample pages, like this one, on their website:

prisonisland2Full of heart, humor and an interesting look at a typical teen living a not so typical life, Prison Island is a fun entry point into the memoir category. It’s also a great book to put into the hands of reluctant readers. I enjoyed this and definitely recommend it.

Publisher’s Book Summary:

McNeil Island in Washington state was the home of the last prison island in the United States, accessible only by air or sea. It was also home to about fifty families, including Colleen Frake’s. Her parents—like nearly everyone else on the island—both worked in the prison, where her father was the prison’s captain and her mother worked in security. In this engaging graphic memoir, a Xeric and Ignatz Award-winning comics artist, Colleen Frakes, tells the story of a typical girl growing up in atypical circumstances.

Published by Zest Books in 2015. Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

For more nonfiction graphic novels for teens check out:

Persopolis by Marjane Satrapi

Smile and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

March, Book 1 and March, Book 2 by John Lewis

Yummy : the Last Days of a Southside Shorty by Greg Neri

TPiB: Comic Book Creations

Today I am hosting my first Teen program for this year’s super hero themed program. This is hands down my favorite SRC theme to date. So many cool, easy and fun things to do. Today I’m just having a kind of informal comic themes Maker program where we will cut up discarded graphic novels/manga/comic books to make a wide variety of crafts.

1. Upcycled Bottle Cap Crafts

Bottle cap crafts are quick and easy. You can make magnets. You can hang a washer with a magnet on a string and make easily interchangeable necklaces. And since we’re using GNs and comics we can use pictures or catchy phrases.

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To make the bottle cap crafts you need:

  • Some type of pictures (here I used discarded GNs)
  • A 1 inch hole punch
  • Bottle caps
  • 1 inch circle epoxy stickers
  • Some type of glue to glue the picture into the bottle cap
  • Magnets

To make the necklace: tie a washer to a string long enough for a bracelet or necklace. Attach a magnet to the washer. You can then easily interchange bottle caps to change out your jewelry.

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I also bought a variety of comic book and super hero themed duct tape which will work really well for making button crafts as well. In addition, I bought photo mats and my goal is to have the teens use the duct tape to cover photo mats and frame their GNs pages with it.

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2. Upcycled Buttons

Buttons are actually really popular with my teens. Cutting up GNs and comics to make them is quick and easy.

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3. Turn an old GN into a new (and personalized) GN

I cut up a bunch of discarded GNs to make my own GN. You could glue it to a piece of paper. I happen to have a bunch of various size acrylics to decorate my teen area so I went ahead and made it into a mural/wall art.

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4. Make collages

The above wall art came about actually quite by accident. I started making a simple collage to frame because we have a ton of smaller acrylic frames that were donated and I knew they would make a fun craft for teens to take home. Then I just kind of got carried away and made it into a wall panel. But a basic collage works as well.

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5. Make your own comic strips & gn pages

I am going to be doing this portion of the program in two ways.

BY HAND

comiccrafts8On Amazon I was able to order a few different comic book creation tools that had long comic strip sheets for teens to fill in and graphic novel templates. You can find them here and here.

BY TECHNOLOGY

comicbk3I made the above comic page using an iPhone and the ComicBook app. I wrote previously about comic book creation tools here.

Graphic Novel Spotlight: from the April 2014 issues of VOYA

I am always scouring looking for Graphic Novels. They are super popular at my library and since I don’t really read them, I’m not always sure what to buy. Thankfully, Amanda Foust and Jack Baur wrote a piece on Graphic Novels for the April issue of 2014. Here they highlight their favorite titles published between November 2012 and 2013 (pages 28 and 29).

Some of the graphic novels they recommend include:

Adventure Time
I have actually had a couple of teens recommend these to me, so I have recently purchased a few. Adventure Time is very popular show on The Cartoon Network.

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang
This title was on all of the best of lists for 2013 and was nominated for the National Book Award. They are two separate titles that work together as a whole.

March by John Lewis
Nonfiction graphic novels are continuing to grow in popularity, particularly biography and autobiographies. This title is a history lesson in the life of Congressman John Lewis and the march to end segregation. It is the first in a planned trilogy. March was featured on NPR in August of 2013.

Princeless by Jeremy Whitley
Locked in a tower, Princess Adrienne decides to rescue herself and to rescue her sisters from a similar fate. In addition to being a GN with empowering females,the princess and a majority of the supporting cast are African American, which we don’t see enough of in graphic novels.

Rust by Royden Lepp
Rust is drawn and illustrated with sepia toned art and it is really quite beautiful. Plus, there is a robot. I support all things with robots.

Spotlight on Tuan Nguyen and the Maverick Graphic Novel Committee


In case you weren’t aware, the Texas Library Association and the Young Adult Round Table support the Texas Maverick List (no, not the basketball team that just embarrassed themselves in front of the Spurs), but a librarian created and recommended list of GRAPHIC NOVELS for youth in grades 6-12. I had the chance to crash their 5th anniversary party during TxLA Conference, and had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with Tuan Nguyen, one of the founders of the Maverick List. He was gracious enough to let me bug him with questions about himself and the Maverick List for Teen Librarian Toolbox, and share about himself and the list with everyone!


1. Tell us a little about yourself- your background, etc.
Well, I grew up as one of five children in a yellow house with a red roof… wait, let’s fast forward a bit.  I have a Master in Library Science from the University of North Texas and have been a library consultant for the past 11 years.  As a library consultant for Mackin Educational Resources, I have worked with many wonderful librarians and libraries across the state of Texas. One of my greatest passions, besides my wife and kids, are graphic novels.  I have paneled and presented on the topic of graphic novels on many different stages including at the American Library Association conference, Texas Library Association conference, and several times at the San Diego International Comic Convention.  I also provide workshops and professional development for teachers and librarians on graphic novels.  While in library school, my friends and I helped develop the Maverick Graphic Novel Committee for the Texas Library Association.  
2. How did you get into graphic novels and comics in the first place?
As an elementary student, I had a lackluster interest in reading, which led my teachers to believe that I had reading problems.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t read, but rather there wasn’t anything I wanted to read.  The combination of being a bilingual student and reluctant reader was the perfect storm for me being placed in an ESL program.  (Side note, my sister who was two years older than me was a phenomenal reader and would terrorize our school and public librarians with request for new books.)

Luckily for me, shortly after being placed in the ESL program, my aunt suggested to my mom to let me try my cousins’ comic books.  Not only was I getting two-sizes too big hand-me-downs from my cousins, but I was also getting their hand-me down comics.  But it was a life-changing experience.  I can’t remember exactly which issue, but my first comic was a Superman comic book and I instantly fell in love with the format.  From that moment, I did everything I could to get my hands on comic books.  When I couldn’t get to the local comic book store or the 7-11 convenience store (I grew up in a small Arkansas town and the closest comic book store was in the next town), my brother and I would make our very own. 
      
3. What are your favorite graphic novels/comics/manga? 
The ones that have resonated with me are “Pedro and Me” by Judd Winick, the “X-Men” and “X-Factor” crossover during the Mutant Massacre storyline, “Ranma 1/2” by Rumiko Takahashi and “American Born Chinese” by Gene Yang.  
4. How did you get the idea to start the Maverick graphic novel list?
The thought about having graphic novels in school libraries would’ve been beyond my wildest dreams as a young reader. But having worked with many different school librarians over the years, I discovered there was always a collection development demand for graphic novels.  It was a serendipitous moment that allowed an end to meet the need.      
5. How hard was it to get the list approved/sponsored through TLA?
The process from beginning to end took a little over three years.  It was first an elevator pitch to the TLA president in 2006 and the idea gained momentum.  The concept was well-received, but there was still the question of who was going to put the effort into researching the idea.  It was a labor of love for WyLaina Hildreth-Polk, Alicia Holston and me to be responsible for such a task.  Over the next two years, we met regularly to discuss and share research data and write our proposal to the Young Adult Round Table (YART).  Along the way, we picked up help from Jennifer Smith, Renee Dyer, and Laura Jewell.  We received both YART’s Executive Board approval and then TLA’s Executive Board approval.  The final proposal for approval went in front of the YART general membership in 2009.         
6. What are the criteria that the committee goes through when looking at graphic novels for the list?
There are a lot of different factors that we use to determine whether a graphic novel makes the list (i.e. storyline, artwork, lettering, etc).  Before a title is considered, it must be recommended by a committee member or the general public.  We accept suggestions through our website athttp://www.txla.org/groups/maverick.  Every fall we gather at TLA headquarters and deliberate on the titles.  Ultimately, it takes a majority vote from the committee for a title to make the list.  A bit of noteworthy news, this past year we instituted the Maverick Starred Review, which represents a title receiving a unanimous vote from the committee members.    


7. If someone wanted to get involved with the Maverick committee, how would they apply?
We are always looking for volunteers to join the Maverick Committee.  We have 1-, 2-, and 3-year commitments. One of the many perks of being a Maverick is all the awesome graphic novels and manga we get :)  To apply, you’ll need to be a member of TLA and the Young Adult Round Table.  Applications are available online at http://www.txla.org/groups/yartvolunteers
8. What advice do you have for teen specialists/librarians who don’t know anything about comics/graphic novels? 
If you aren’t a traditional graphic novel reader, start with a story that you have an interest in.  There are plenty of graphic novels and manga that cover a wide spectrum of storylines, but don’t be afraid to abandon a graphic novel if it doesn’t sustain your interest.  Two graphic novels that I highly recommend for first-time GN readers would be “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud and “Maus” by Art Spiegelman.  Additionally, attend your local school or public library anime/manga group.  They are kindred spirits and will help show you the way.
9. What are some of the comics/graphic novels/manga that your teens/patrons adore more than anything? 
Manga is wildly popular, and oftentimes, I see students prefer manga over traditional western comics.  The storylines cover a wide range of topics, including futurist postal service, fracture fairy tales, cooking shows, etc.  If you search for an interest, I’m sure there is something to fulfill your need.         
10. What events are coming up next year at TLA that teen specialists can look forward to from the Maverick committee? 
There are several Maverick programs that I am working on that involves mangaka(s), but I can’t share too much until we get their publisher’s commitment. If everything works out according to plan, it will be a first for TLA’s and Maverick’s history.
11. Are there any plans for expanding the list downwards to younger ages?
Yes, coincidentally there are plans within TLA to look into a younger graphic novel review committee.  See question #5     
12. Anything else you want to share? 
Yes, I always like sharing this story.  A few TLA conferences ago, a school librarian from a small rural town came up to me after one of our Maverick programs and thanked us for our reading list.  Because our list was a TLA-recommended reading list, she was able to purchase her first graphic novel for her collection.  That young boy in me was so pleased, and I feel what we’re doing is truly making a difference.

MG Book Review: Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown

So much fun! As a casual enthusiast of Star Wars, I was fully engaged by this story of Roan, a young boy from Tatooine (sound familiar?) Roan comes from a family with a long history of serving as Star Pilots. His Father and Grandfather are Star Pilots, and his older brother is attending Pilot Academy. At the beginning of the novel, Roan is understandably disappointed to receive a rejection letter from Pilot Academy Middle School. It’s all he’s ever dreamt of – becoming a Star Pilot in the family tradition. What will he do now? His only alternative is Tatooine Agriculture Academy. He will be stuck on Tatooine forever, as a farmer.

More Star Wars fun here and here.


Mysteriously, just before he leaves to attend TAA, Roan receives a letter inviting him to attend Jedi Academy, on the strength of Master Yoda’s recommendation. What follows is Roan’s immersion into an almost foreign world. All of the other Jedi Academy students have been there since toddler-hood, why has Roan only now been accepted? We see the world of Star Wards through Roan’s eyes, visiting familiar places like Kashyyyk (home world of the Wookies), and learning more about what early training of the Jedi involved. Roan is a typical, slightly confused, moderately sarcastic, very funny and engaging middle schooler. This title is an excellent introduction to both the world of the Jedi and the world of Middle School. I would highly recommend its purchase for 3rd through 8th grades.

On a side note, this is an ‘alternative format’ novel, written as a mixture of journal entries, cartoons, letters, and other ephemera. Anywhere that this type of novel is popular (almost everywhere) would be best served by purchasing multiple copies.  Check out more great alternate format reads for Middle Grade readers here.

Kicky Says:  So, the tween got a copy of the book and read it 3 times in 2 days.  That’s right, I sat there and watched her finish the book just to open the front cover and start it all over again.  She says it is “really good” and “very funny”.

Star Wars: Jedi Academy (ISBN 9780545505178) from publisher Scholastic will be available on August 27, 2013