Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Book Review: All Summer Long by Hope Larson

Publisher’s description

all summer longA coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel about summer and friendships, written and illustrated by the Eisner Award–winning and New York Times–bestselling Hope Larson.

Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he’s off to soccer camp for a month, and he’s been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it’s up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own. At first it’s a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin’s older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he’s acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

This will be an easy hit with fans of Raina Telgemeier, Victoria Jamieson, Jennifer Holm, and Shannon Hale’s Real Friends. I could probably bring 20 of these to work, put them on my desk, and have them all gone to 5th graders in a few hours.

 

There’s so much to like here. I loved everything about this graphic novel except the repeated use of the word “lame.” Why do people think it’s okay to still use that word? Barring that, which took me out of the story every time because I had to sigh and roll my eyes, it was fantastic. I love that it’s about a boy-girl friendship. Neighbors Bina and Austin have been best friends literally their entire lives. But as athletic Austin heads off to a month of soccer camp, leaving music enthusiast Bina behind, Bina feels at loose ends. She’s never really had to figure out what to do without Austin. She listens to music, plays her guitar, binges a tv show, and texts Austin, wishing he’d bother to text her back. It’s not that she doesn’t have anything else going on in her life, but it’s her first summer really on her own. Her older brother and his husband are adopting a baby, her other adventurous brother pops home and gives her a little pep talk, and she has a good relationship with her parents. She becomes friends (maybe, sort of, she thinks) with Charlie, Austin’s older sister. Charlie introduces her to new music, gets her into babysitting, and makes Bina feel kind of cool. And kind of used and frustrated. Middle school is a pretty typical time to discover just how complicated relationships, even lifelong ones, can be. So much is changing, but, as her mom points out, Bina is becoming more herself every day. She’s getting more into music, understanding more about social dynamics, and learning how to shape her own days without her best friend there to help her. When Austin returns from camp, things between them are definitely different, but they work it out, discovering that growing and changing doesn’t have to mean growing apart. Bina is a great character and a lot of readers will relate to her feelings and uncertainty. A solid addition to any graphic novel collection. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780374310714
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 05/01/2018

Collecting Comics: May 2018 with Ally Watkins

Check out these May comics and graphic novels that your teens and tweens will be clamoring for!

collectingcomics

Goldie Vance, Volume 4 by Hope Larson and Jackie Ball, illustrated by Elle Power, colors by Sarah Stern (BOOM! Box, May 1). Goldie Vance is back! In Volume 4 of her adventures, sixteen year old ameteur sleuth Goldie finds plenty to keep her detective brain busy at the St. Pascal Rockin’ The Beach Music Festival which is in town! Give this to your young patrons who love historical fiction and/or mysteries.

maycomics1

All Summer Long by Hope Larson (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux BYR, May 1). A standalone middle grade graphic novel about summer and friendships, All Summer Long is about 13-year-old Bina, who has a long summer ahead of her. Her best friend Austin is off to camp for a month and he’s been acting weird anyway. So Bina bonds with Austin’s older sister, who has similar taste in music. But when Austin returns, growing pains make things even more awkward. Will they reconnect? A touching coming of age story from Goldie Vance’s Hope Larson.

Runaways, Volume 1: Find Your Way Home by Rainbow Rowell, illustrated by Kris Anka (Marvel, May 1). YA superstar Rainbow Rowell takes over the wildly popular Runaways series, bringing back original characters like Nico, Carolina, Molly, Chase, and even Gert. Your comics fans will love this one because of the beloved characters, and your YA fans will be thrilled to get new work from Rowell. Collects issues #1-#6 of the comic book series.

maycomics2

Angelic Volume 1: Heirs and Graces by Simon Spurrier, illustrated by Caspar Wijngaard (Image Comics, May 15). Centuries after humanity is gone, the earth belongs to genetically modified animals who stick to routines that feel oppressive to one young monkey, Qora, who just wants to fly free. Collects issues #1-#6 of the comic book series.

Misfit City Volume 2 by Kurt Lustgarten and Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith, illustrated by Naomi Franquiz (BOOM! Studios, May 29). Wilder and her friends continue their adventure, hunting for Black Mary’s treasure, and hoping to uncover secrets in their otherwise sleepy hometown. Collects #5-#8 of the comic book series.

BONUS NON-COMIC:

maycomics3

Supergirl: Curse of the Ancients by Jo Whittemore (Amulet, May 1). This book is the second of a planned middle grade Supergirl trilogy. Kara Danvers is back to save the day!

BONUS COMICS INFORMATION:

The Eisner Award nominations have been released. The Eisner Awards are a major comic award given every year at San Diego Comic-Con. The nominees, which include awards for kids and teens, can be found here: https://www.comic-con.org/awards/2018-eisner-awards-nominations.

Collection Development: Updating My GN and Manga Collection; or, that time I decided I wanted to face my arch nemesis and build a better collection for my patrons

collectingcomics

Hello all, Collecting Comics is Ally Watkins’ column, but I’m co-opting her column for a brief moment to share with you how I’m going about re-vamping my graphic novel and manga collection. It’s okay, Ally helped me periodically on this project. I could not have done it without her and the help of several other librarians and my friends on Twitter, who are way better at graphic novel collection development than I am. I went to the experts.

Some of you may be aware, but I am in the midst of a massive collection development project. I took over here 3 1/2 years ago and after getting the Teen MakerSpace organized, I took a deep dive into collection development. That deep dive has included a huge weed (twice now), a re-organization, a diversity audit, and now I am looking at what I have always called my arch-nemesis: graphic novels. Let me state right at the beginning, I do not hate graphic novels or manga. I know that they are valuable and popular formats, they just don’t personally work for me as a reader, which makes ordering them more challenging. And to be honest, I find them overwhelming, in large part because they are often long running series which keep me on my toes and take a lot of space and budget. The budget issue comes in because I feel like I’m always replacing lost or damaged copies. Graphic novel collection development does not come as easily to me as YA collection development does, and I know I’m not alone.

Graphic novels still make up about 8% of the book market, and some 11.3 million graphic novels were sold in 2017. Source

So, here I am taking this deep dive into graphic novels and manga. Let me share with you a quick outline of what I’ve been doing.

I began by running a shelf list and weeding report.

I then made a list of every series that we have and every superhero we have something on. I used the stats to help me determine if it earned shelf space. If something hasn’t circulated in the last year, it goes into the consider weeding pile. My shelf space for this collection is tight and you have to earn your space.

I used the statistical information to determine whether we should keep or weed the series. I was only able to weed about 100 titles as the circulation statistics indicated that this is a high circulating collection. I also want to make a note here that we are very aware that circulation statistics alone can’t be our only measure because we have a large number of manga and gn readers who come in, read books off the shelf, and then place them back on the shelf. We see it happen daily. We have tried to put a basket for readers and asked that our patrons don’t re-shelve these items to help us get a better idea of what people are reading. I highly recommend not relying on circulation statistics alone for a manga/graphic novel collection because of in-house readers.

I went through and filled holes on massively popular series that we get a lot of I.L.L. requests for. This was a time consuming process that involved my shelf list which let me know which items were missing or lost.

Source: https://publishingperspectives.com/2018/01/childrens-books-salon-international-issues-trends-rights/

Source: https://publishingperspectives.com/2018/01/childrens-books-salon-international-issues-trends-rights/

We then made the decision to re-catalog all of our YA and Adult graphic novels simply as Graphic Novels (for us, GN means graphic novels and manga). This allowed us to put all of our adult and YA GNs into one location. Because we combined them both, we no longer wanted to promote them as YA or house them in YA. So they are no longer YA, but they are YA adjacent. We did this because we had a handful of graphic novels stuck in the 741.5 section, like The Walking Dead, that we knew our teens were reading but were getting lost in adult nonfiction. We wanted to adopt a more book store model and put all of our items of the same format into one location, but we also wanted to make sure that we weren’t saying the titles were necessarily YA. We do still have a separate E and J graphic novel section on our children’s floor.

I then turned to my librarian friends who excel at graphic novel collection development, including TLT’s own Ally Watkins, and several people I know from Twitter. I even tweeted pics of the series we do have and asked for recommendations. I compiled these recommendations and did some research.

I of course did the research and looked at things like award winners and YALSA best graphic novels lists. If a series appeared on a list, it got higher priority when considering whether or not to add it.

I then grabbed a notepad and pen and went a spent a day at Barnes and Noble. This was the most illuminating part of my research. You see, my library has two ranges of graphic novels and manga. Barnes and Noble has sixteen. That’s right, they have fourteen more shelving ranges of graphic novels and manga than the library has. I spoke at length to the staff at B&N and learned that graphic novels and manga are high selling items and a growing market. I knew from our stats that graphic novels were circulating well for us, but I had no idea how big of a market they are. Barnes and Noble has as much graphic novels and manga as they have Young Adult literature. I was blown away by this. Also, going through the graphic novels and manga at Barnes and Noble allowed me to look at a few titles from each recommended series, thumb through them, look at the rating on the back, etc. I felt it allowed me to make a somewhat more informed decision.

“According to NPD Bookscan data from global information provider the NPD Group, the comics and graphic novels category in the U.S. trade book market has experienced compound annual unit sales growth of 15 percent over the last three years, making it one of the highest growth categories in the trade book marketplace.” Source

I then placed an order to help add some new series to my graphic novel collection. I ordered a couple of titles in each series. I will then look in a couple of months to see how they are circulating and determine whether or not we want to add more of that series.

Today I am sharing with you a shelf list of the series that we either own or were recommended to me. Please note, it does not contain stand alone titles or titles by authors such as Raina Telgemeier or Gene Luan Yang, this is simply a look at some manga series that are recommended and some superheroes that you might want to make sure you have. These are not titles necessarily recommended by me, but have been recommended to me or their circulation at our library meant they were worth keeping in our collection. I am sure there are many series that we are missing, in fact, please feel free to comment and let me know what else you recommend.

Series Title (GNs and Manga, not superheroes)
Adventure Time
Ajin
Amulet
Assassination Classroom
Attack on Titan
Bakuman
Behind the Scenes
Black Butler
Bleach
Blue ExorcistBone
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Cleopatra in Space
Death Note
Doctor Who
Fairy Tale
Faith
The Far Side
Fruits Basket
Gabriel Dropout
Garfield
Giant Days
The Good Neighbors
Gotham Academy
Haven’t You Heard
I Hate Fairyland
I Kill Giants
Immortal Hounds
iZombie
Kill Shakespeare
The Last Airbender
Lumberjanes
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzaumiya
Miki Falls
Monster Hunter
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur
Naruto
One Piece
One Punch Man
Ouran High School Host Club
Pandora Hearts
Princeless
Riverdale (Archie)
Pretty Guardian (Sailor Moon)
The Sandman
School-live!
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Secret Coders
A Silent Voice
Simpsons
Spill Zone
Star Wars
Tokyo Ghoul
Transformers
Twin Star Exorcists
The Unbeatable Squirrell Girl
The Walking Dead
Zits
Superhero GNs
Ant-Man
Avengers
Batgirl
Batman
Black Panther
Captain Marvel
Daredeveil
Deadpool
Doctor Strange
Guardians of the Galaxy
Justice League
Ms. Marvel
Runaways
Spider-Man
Supergirl
Watchmen
Wonder Woman
X-Men

Collecting Comics: March 2018 with Ally Watkins

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

collectingcomics

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?

c1

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.

brazen

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.

c2

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.

Book Review: Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu

Publisher’s description

brazenThroughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit.

With her characteristic wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.

 

 

 

 

Amanda’s thoughts

This is exactly the kind of book I love to give as a gift. I’m always on the lookout for excellent books featuring strong women to either send to children of friends or use as graduation gifts etc. Get this on your radar if you do the same.

 

This 300+ page volume is filled with charming, lovely, vibrant art that brings to life the biographies of 29 women throughout history. Each biography runs 3-7 pages and Bagieu infuses her characters and conversations with so much humor and life. If you are a Kate Beaton fan, you’ll be into these comics. The women profiled in this collection go beyond the usual people we find in books like this. In fact, I should probably be embarrassed to say, I hadn’t ever heard of a fair number of these women. Bagieu writes about Clementine Delait, who in the early 1900s, became rich and famous as a bar owner/tender and cafe owner, and also because of her beard (in the illustrations, Delait repeatedly irritatedly asks people, “What is wrong with you?” when they ask to touch it or suggest she join a circus). Readers learn about Margaret Hamilton, who was Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz; Las Mariposas, revolutionary sisters in the Dominican Republic; mid-to-late 1800s warrior and shaman Lozen; entertainer and swimsuit innovator Annette Kellerman; painter and Moomin creator Tove Jansson; Liberian social worker Laymah Gbowee; Christine Jorgensen, one of the first Americans to undergo gender confirmation surgery; Temple Grandin, autism spokesperson and animal behavior specialist; Afghanistan-born rapper Sonita Alizadeh; singer Betty Davis; rock group The Shaggs; crime miniaturist Frances Glessner Lee, and many others.

 

This inclusive look at noteworthy women is a must for all collections. Not only is it gorgeous to look at, but the choice to write about so many women who are less well known helps this stand out from the other (great) books similar to this. Long live unconventional women!

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781626728691
Publisher: First Second
Publication date: 03/06/2018

Book Review: Monsters Beware! by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado, a guest review by Callum (age 11)

Publisher’s description

monsters bewareClaudette is back AGAIN, and she’s ready to kick major monster butt!

She’s fought giants, clobbered dragons, and now Claudette faces her biggest challenge yet… herself! Well, that and a gang of vile monsters. It all begins when Claudette’s town hosts the annual Warrior Games. After some sneaky maneuvering, Claudette manages to gets herself, Marie, and Gaston chosen as her town’s representatives. But none of Claudette’s past battles has prepared her for this. And to make matters worse, they must stop the vicious Sea Queen and her evil children from using the Warrior Games to free the dark Wizard Grombach and conquer the world!

In Monsters Beware!, the third and final book of the Claudette graphic novel series, Claudette is put the ultimate test. With her honor on the line will she learn that there’s more to a fight than just winning?

 

Callum’s thoughts

This graphic novel is about a kid named Claudette and her friends. There’s something going on in town called the Warrior Games and she wants to participate because her mom did. The Games are like a coliseum thing where you fight monsters and stuff, but this time it was just chores, like churning butter and plowing. There’s another kingdom that participated in this, the Sea Kingdom, which turned into monsters and started eating the other contestants. The same monster ate Claudette’s mother. The final games are between Claudette’s team and the Sea Kingdom. The town unveiled a statue that was like an evil wizard frozen in amber and they (the Sea Kingdom) want Claudette’s sword to free him so the wizard can rule the land. At the end, there’s a giant battle where all four monsters combine and turn into a GIANT monster. It starts to destroy the town, so Claudette gets her dad’s sword and is going to attack the monster. Claudette’s brother knows an ice spell that he was using to make snacks with and then the giant monster gets frozen by her brother. Then Claudette smashes it to pieces. Everyone who was eaten comes back out and she sees her mom.

 

I really liked the art and the story—it’s really good. I liked how it was written and the suspense in it. I kind of liked the Hunger Games vibe to it. It will appeal to lots of kids, especially kids that like adventures.

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781626721807
Publisher: First Second
Publication date: 03/13/2018
Series: Chronicles of Claudette Series

YA A to Z: Comics 101 with Ally Watkins

Today as we continue YA A to Z, our very own TLTer Ally Watkins is discussing Comics 101 with us. She writers our monthly Collecting Comics feature.

yaatoz

Comics are wildly popular and fun, but they aren’t always the easiest thing to collect for libraries. But our patrons love comics, so a little information about how comics work and how to collect them for libraries can really with collection development.

An important thing to remember at the start: comics are not a genre, they’re a format. There are many genres of comic books and graphic novels, but they’re all written in the comic format.

In America, comics are sold by something called the direct market system, in which a large distributor (Diamond Comics Distributors) provides comics to local comics shops in order to meet consumer needs. Unlike regular book sales, these books can’t be returned from the shops for a refund, so comic shops try to gauge their customers’ interest through pre-orders which have to be placed a several weeks ahead of the release date.  The downsides to this system are that consumers have to take a chance on new publications before they’ve even come out, and new comics that don’t do well (perhaps because of poor pre-order numbers) are often discontinued.

Confused yet?

Basically: local comic book shops are still the primary way that comic readers purchase single issue comics (the traditional 32 page “comic books” that you’re envisioning, also called “floppies”). Individual single issues come out every week on Wednesday.  Single issues are numbered, so that’s where you might hear someone talking about “Ms. Marvel #1.”

 

If your library is very lucky, you might have a relationship with Diamond or a local comic book shop, and you can get single issue comics in your library weekly! But many of us don’t have the budget or purchasing procedures for that, so libraries often get collected editions that contain multiple single issues.

 

A collected edition most often comes in the form of a trade paperback (shortened to “trades” or “TPBs”), which might collect between 4 and 8 single issues of a comics series. These trades are numbered as “volumes.” For example, Volume 1 of the comic series Lumberjanes collects Lumberjanes issues #1-#4.  These trades generally collect a story arc or several related issues. These are just like series books, so you want to commit to collecting the whole series for your patrons.  You can buy volumes of collected issues at a variety of places: comic book shops have them, but they’re also available at Amazon, regular bookstores, and your vendors: they have ISBN numbers so they’re available anywhere books are sold.  Collected editions can also come in hardcover deluxe editions, which collect more issues than a trade paperback (or have ‘bonus’ content). These are usually longer and much more expensive.  Make sure that when you’re cataloging your collected edition, you put as much information as possible into the record. You’ll want to include the volume number and what issues it contains so that your patrons can see that in the catalog record and follow along with the series in order.

 Graphic novels are original stories told in the comic format. They are not published in issues first. These are meant to be read like books. They can be a part of a series, or they can stand alone. You may see graphic novels referred to as “OGN” or “Original Graphic Novel.”  Graphic nonfiction is also becoming increasingly popular, including the multiple award-winning March books by John Lewis. The comic format lends itself to telling memoirs and other nonfiction topics powerfully.

 Webcomics are very popular and are an excellent way for amateur artists and storytellers to get their stories into the world. Sometimes comics or more mainstream book publishers will pick up a webcomic and publish a book edition of it, like Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona or the upcoming Check, Please, written and illustrated by Ngozi Ukazu.

If you aren’t sure where to start, check out awards and lists! A major award for comics that has categories for kids and teens is the Eisner Award. Presented every year at San Diego Comic-Con, there are Eisners in categories for early readers, kids, and teens. Another great comics resource is YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens list.

Even though comics can be a little complicated, your kid and teen patrons probably love them and are tearing through them, and keeping them on the shelves is important! Stay tuned to TLT for our monthly column about comics for kids and teens, called Collecting Comics!

More Resources:

Manga 101 | School Library Journal

50 Essential Manga for Libraries – ThoughtCo

Introduction – Graphic Novels, Manga, & Anime – Library Guides

Graphic Novels and Comics in Libraries | News and Press Center

Comics, the King of Libraries – Publishers Weekly

Comic Books 101 Overview and History – ThoughtCo

Book Review: The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Publisher’s description

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride—or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia—the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances—one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

princeI so enjoyed this graphic novel.

Crown Prince Sebastian of Belgium doesn’t always feel like a prince. Some days, he looks at himself in the mirror, wearing his traditional “boy” clothes, and feels just fine. Other days, that doesn’t feel right at all. He’d rather wear dresses and feel like a princess. He’s completely uninterested in finding a wife (something his parents are fixated on). He’s 16 and harboring this secret—he doesn’t exactly feel ready for a relationship, where he’d likely need to reveal parts of himself that he isn’t yet ready to. Instead, he hangs with his new seamstress (and new best friend) Frances, who barely blinks when she learns her new client is a prince wanting to wear dresses. She’s just excited to make some wild designs and maybe be discovered. Sebastian dons her dresses and enjoys a nightlife as the popular, trend-setting Lady Crystallia. He appears happier than he’s ever been, but he still has to deal with the fact that his parents are on a wife-hunt and that he’s living a secret life. When Frances’s designs do get her noticed, she finds herself possibly getting the break of a lifetime. But pursuing her dreams may mean Lady Crystallia’s real identity getting out, a risk that Sebastian can’t take.

Sebastian’s story is, at times, difficult to read. Living a secret life, hiding who he is, is both heartbreaking and exhausting. He’s unhappy and lives in fear. He is so certain he won’t be accepted. The story also includes a pretty unpleasant scene of him being outed. That said, it’s important to know that Sebastian is eventually embraced and accepted by his family and friends, even once they know the truth. The scene surrounding this moment, a fashion show, is pretty epic. Readers who may feel some of the same self-loathing, secrecy, and fear especially need to see this happy resolution. Wang’s gorgeous artwork is well suited to depict a story filled with decadence and high fashion. The characters are so expressive and dynamic—we see Sebastian absolutely come live as his alter ego, Lady Crystallia, and generally appear so miserable when he’s out of those beautiful dresses. Though their relationship has some growing pains, the supportive and loving friendship between Frances and Sebastian is lovely. Fans of graphic novels will be drawn in by the lush and lively art. The strong storytelling and fantastic characters will keep readers engaged, making sure they pay attention to all of the details in the art that add to the story. Though Sebastian’s road to being able to show his real self isn’t easy, it’s wonderful to see him loved, embraced, and supported in the end. Let’s hear it for happy endings! 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781626723634
Publisher: First Second
Publication date: 02/13/2018

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.

collectingcomics

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.

speakgraphicnovel

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?

Book Review: Is This Guy For Real?: The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman by Box Brown

Publisher’s description

Comedian and performer Andy Kaufman’s resume was impressive—a popular role on the beloved sitcom Taxi, a high-profile stand-up career, and a surprisingly successful stint in professional wrestling. Although he was by all accounts a sensitive and thoughtful person, he’s ironically best remembered for his various contemptible personas, which were so committed and so convincing that all but his closest family and friends were completely taken in.

Why would someone so gentle-natured and sensitive build an entire career seeking the hatred of his audience? What drives a performer to solicit that reaction? With the same nuance and sympathy with which he approached Andre the Giant in his 2014 biography, graphic novelist Box Brown takes on the complex and often hilarious life of Andy Kaufman.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

is this guyLast May, Box Brown was at Teen Lit Con, an amazing event I am lucky enough to keep getting asked to speak at. My son, a huge fan of comics/graphic novels, and I went to Brown’s session, which was when I first heard about this book on Kaufman. I have been desperately waiting for it ever since. (Side note: If you haven’t read any of Brown’s books, you should fix that. His book on Andre the Giant was phenomenal.)

 

I had a pretty good working knowledge of Kaufman going into this. At 40, I was too young to witness any of Kaufman’s actual fame/antics, but I certainly grew up seeing lots of reruns of things with him and hearing about his personas and ways of messing with people (and, of course, wondering, like everyone else, if maybe he faked his death). Brown takes us back to Kaufman’s youth, showing his interest in Mighty Mouse, Elvis, and wrestling. Kaufman loved to imitate his heroes and always rooted for the bad guy. We see how he became a party entertainer at a young age, his interest in drumming, and his growing interest in subverting expectations and screwing with reality. Kaufman believed in being in character offstage as well, a move that helped him confuse the heck out of people who eventually could never tell if he was putting on an act or being serious. Much of the story is focused on Kaufman’s wrestling career, with Brown taking us through Kaufman arch-nemesis Jerry Lawler’s backstory, too. Throughout it all, we see Kaufman as not just a larger-than-life character who wrestled women and befuddled viewers, but as a sensitive guy into yoga and transcendental meditation. Kaufman, who blurred reality and enjoyed blowing people’s minds, loved playing the negative, hated characters. It was just more interesting to him.

 

Fans of the absurd will enjoy this book, whether they’ve heard of Kaufman or not. For an older audience, for anyone who looks at this and can immediately picture Kaufman lip-syncing to the Mighty Mouse theme, or Tony Clifton, or Latka Gravis, this look at Kaufman will be a real treat. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781626723160
Publisher: First Second
Publication date: 02/06/2018