Category Archives: Graphic novels

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World

Isn’t it terrific when you stumble across a book that seems to have been written for you personally? I found that book this morning in my library’s digital collection! Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story, by Debbie Tung, is a graphic novel about introverts and how difficult life can be for those of us who are “quiet people.”

from the publisher:

This illustrated gift book of short comics illuminates author Debbie Tung’s experience as an introvert in an extrovert’s world. Presented in a loose narrative style that can be read front to back or dipped into at one’s leisure, the book spans three years of Debbie’s life, from the end of college to the present day. In these early years of adulthood, Debbie slowly but finally discovers there is a name for her lifelong need to be alone: she’s an introvert. The first half of the book traces Debbie’s final year in college: socializing with peers, dating, falling in love (with an extrovert!), moving in, getting married, meeting new people, and simply trying to fit in. The second half looks at her life after graduation: finding a job, learning to live with her new husband, trying to understand social obligations when it comes to the in-laws, and navigating office life. Ultimately, Quiet Girl sends a positive, pro-introvert message: our heroine learns to embrace her introversion and finds ways to thrive in the world while fulfilling her need for quiet.

I identified with so many different parts of this book. Here are a couple of my favorite panels:



This little book is important because in very positive ways it explains and validates the life experiences of an introvert. For many of us, it’s not easy being an introvert!

I’m going to buy my own copy of this book to share with my introverted daughter, my introverted son, and my introverted grandson, as well! Also, I have already preordered her new book, to be released on January 1, 2019. It’s called Book Love, and I already know I will love it.

Currently Reading: March


img_2512On a trip to the library today I picked up two books that I think are very important right now. The one I started first is March, by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell.  It is the first volume of a three part autobiography in graphic novel form. I’m already caught in the first volume and look forward to reading all three.

The second book I checked out and will read next is 1984, by George Orwell. When I first read it in high school it seemed so impossible (thank goodness!) and the year so far away. Not in today’s America, though. How sad to say that it seems chillingly timely right now!

Click here to read a NY Times article about 1984.



The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey

A graphic novel for readers young and old, The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey, is a lot of fun to read.  The research that author, Steve Sheinkin, did for this book was to read as many Jewish folktales/stories for children as he could find. Then he combined those stories with his childhood love for comics and for the “wild west” and created Rabbi Harvey.

The stories are delightful, and are indeed full of wisdom. And the book will make you smile and laugh. Click here to see a sample of one of the stories.  Click here to read an interview with author, Steve Sheinkin.

I read this book (and am looking forward to reading the sequel, Rabbi Harvey Rides Again) for Callista’s Jewish Literature Challenge 2010, and Chris and Nymeth’s Graphic Novels Challenge 2010. Great fun!

Another One for Dewey

american_born_chinese.smAmerican Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang, was on my list for the Dewey’s Books Challenge. Both my husband and I read it last weekend and really liked it. It’s an award-winning graphic novel published by one of my favorite publishing companies, First Second, which I’ve written about before on this blog, here and here.

This book has an interesting design. It is three seemingly unrelated stories that all come together at the end with a powerful impact. It is so well done, and deserves the numerous awards it has received.

From the Publisher:
“All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he’s the only Chinese-American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he fall in love with an all-American girls.

Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kun-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn’t want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god…

Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he’s ruining his cousin Danny’s life. Danny’s a basketball player, a popular kid at school, but ever year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse…”

The author, Gene Luen Yang, also teaches at a private high school in the San Francisco Bay Area. His web site, Humble Comics, has a section for educators about using comics and graphic novels in the classroom. Another section, called “Factoring with Mr. Yang,” shows the power of using comics in a math learning unit. Very interesting and creative teacher!

There are a lot of blogger reviews of this book, but one of the best and most creative was done by Joanne, at The Book Zombie. Click here to read her excellent review of this book.

Unfortunately, Dewey’s web site, The Hidden Side of a Leaf, is offline again, so I couldn’t go back and reread what she had written about this book. It was very sad for all of us in the book blogging community to lose her last year…her reviews were always sparking my interest.

Rapunzel, Rapunzel

Illustration by Gustaf Tenggren 

The fairy tale of Rapunzel always seemed weird to me as I was growing up, so it wasn’t one of my favorites. But I have just read two books that retell the story of Rapunzel: Zel, by Donna Jo Napoli, and Rapunzel’s Revenge, by Shannon and Dean Hale, and I have a new understanding of and appreciation for this old tale. I also read an excellent article by Terri Windling on the historical and cultural background of the Rapunzel story. It is well worth reading, also.

Napoli’s Zel is a dark and psychological retelling for young adults. It is told in first-person narrative for each of the three main characters: Zel, Mother, and Konrad, the one who brings her love and freedom. With this type of narration, you completely understand the story behind each character, and the reasons for each character’s actions. It is a story of obsessive love, abuse, and of the redemptive power of love. I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by Alexandra O’Karma, and it was a powerful rendition of a powerful story! This is not a story for young listeners/readers.

On a much lighter note, Rapunzel’s Revenge, a graphic novel by Shannon Hale and her husband, Dean, was a lot of fun. Definitely in the category of a “fractured fairy tale,” this graphic novel is set in the wild, wild west, and Rapunzel’s long, long braided hair is used as a lasso and very effective weapon throughout the book. The humor is silly, in the best possible sense of the word, and I chuckled all the way through it. Lots of fairy tale fun from an author I always enjoy!

Two more books read for Carl V’s “Once Upon a Time III challenge!

Robot Dreams

Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon, is a wordless graphic novel for children. Library Journal called it a “small, “simple” story of friendship and letting go…

…A dog purchases a robot kit so that he might have a friend to hang out with. The robot, a mellow type, enjoys hanging out with the dog, eating popcorn, watching movies, and going to the library. A trip to the beach, however, turns out to be a less than stellar idea when the robot goes swimming only to rust up and find that it can no longer move. The dog goes home for the night, intending to take the robot along later. Unfortunately, the beach is closed the next day and the poor robot is stuck on the sand, dreaming of things both good and bad. As the months go by, both robot and dog have their own small adventures, real and unreal. By the end, however, they each find new and separate companions. The last image in the book is of the robot seeing the dog with another robot, and understanding that this is a case when you’ve just got to let the person you love go.

This is another very nicely done graphic novel published by FirstSecond Books, a company with vision and a great place to start if you are just discovering the world of graphic novels. They are pulling in the best authors and artists, and their collaborative projects are terrific! I highly recommend spending some time on their web site!

Awards for Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon:

• A New York Public Library Book for Reading and Sharing
• A Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year
• A Kirkus Review Best Children’s Book of the Year
• BCCB Blue Ribbon Title
• ALSC Notable Children’s Book
• YALSA Great Graphic Novel
• NYPL Book for the Teen Age
• An NCTE Notable Book in the Language Arts

“…unmistakably joyful.” —Kirkus

More Manga Reading

Rhinoa’s Manga Reading Challenge has inspired me to choose some reading that is very new and different for me, and I’m enjoying my first experiences with the world of Manga. This week I read two more books for the challenge: Manga Shakespeare: The Tempest, and Return to Labyrinth, Vol. I.

The Tempest, illustrated by Paul Duffield, was the second book I’ve read from the Manga Shakespeare collection. I started with Macbeth — the play I am most familiar with because I used it in my 6th grade classroom for 16 years — and I enjoyed it but liked The Tempest better because I liked the artwork better. I’m looking forward to eventually reading all the books in the Manga Shakespeare collection. They’re a fun way to introduce yourself (or a class) to the different Shakespeare plays.

Many years ago, my family and I enjoyed the movie, Labyrinth. A few months ago, my husband and I watched it again on DVD, and I think I liked it even more than I did way-back-when. So for Rhinoa’s challenge, I decided to read the Manga series of Return to Labyrinth, by Jake T. Forbes, to see what happens to the story after the movie ends! At the library, I found Volumes 1 and 2 of what will eventually be a 4-volume story. I finished Vol. 1, and am most of the way through Vol. 2Volume 3 comes out on May 12th.

The story in Return to Labyrinth, Vol. 1 takes place 13 years after the end of the movie. Here’s a short summary from the publisher:

The Goblin King has kept a watchful eye on Toby: His minions secretly guiding and protecting the child… Legions of goblins work behind the scenes to ensure that Toby has whatever his heart desires… Preparing him for the day when he will return to the Labyrinth and take his rightful place beside Jareth as the heir to the Goblin Kingdom… That day has come……but no one has told Toby.

I felt a lot of loyalty to the movie and to Brian Froud’s original artwork and Jim Henson’s wonderful creations, so this book was a little hard for me to accept at first. But, it’s fun to follow the adventure along, so I will continue through the story and read the upcoming volumes, too. And anything that keeps Brian Froud, Jim Henson, and David Bowie fresh in mind is definitely to be enjoyed and appreciated.

To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel

I always wanted to be a ballet dancer, and took a lot of dance lessons as I was growing up. To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel really captured my own childhood fascination with and love of ballet, as well as the need to move and fill up big spaces with dance! But this is the story of a passionate young girl who made her dream come true, and her amazing experiences in the ballet world as a young professional dancer! The author, Siena Cherson Siegel and her husband, Mark Siegel, collaborated on this book. It is a lovely little award-winning graphic novel for young readers that I’m going to order for my class library at school.

Manga Shakespeare: Macbeth

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.

Manga Shakespeare: Macbeth is the very first Manga book I’ve ever read, and I enjoyed the experience. I’ve known very little about graphic novels or Manga, but I’m learning! And I do love Shakespeare in any form, and especially love his MACBETH. Before moving to 2nd grade after my medical leave of absence, I taught 6th grade for 16 years, and our 6th grade classes performed an abbreviated version of The Scottish Play every spring. It’s the thing I miss most about my grade level change. So it was a pleasure to read another version of the play, and experience it in a whole new way.

The world of Manga is quite fascinating. There are visual traditions and things I don’t completely understand yet (MacDuff had 4 arms, for instance, and the story was set in a post-apocalyptic future), but I know that there was always a real fascination and passion for it with some of my students, so I am curious to read more and learn about it. I am also pleased that the Manga Shakespeare books introduce readers, many of them young, to the plays in a way they can enjoy. The language is intact although abbreviated, and “reading” a Manga or graphic novel version of the story is much closer to the performance of a play because of the interaction of the words and the graphics.

The other day I watched an interview on the Seattle Channel with Nancy Pearl (Book Lust) interviewing Mark Siegel, the editorial director of :01 First Second Books, and he talked about the world of graphic novels, and how that world is growing and developing. Not only did I learn a lot about that genre from listening to him, but I also compiled a list of graphic novels that he recommends. I’m heading for the library today to pick up a number of them! It’s a 30-minute video clip, but well worth watching.

This book is my first read for Rhinoa’s Manga Challenge, and I’m looking forward to reading more Manga. I am also counting it as a book read for Historia’s Shakespeare Challenge, and for Carl’s Sci Fi Experience because the setting was changed to the future, so it loosely qualifies.

Rhinoa’s Manga Challenge

The rules are:

• Read at least 6 Manga novels in 2009 (crossovers with other challenges are fine, and please feel free to read more!).
• You do not need to set a list of books to read in advance, just fill them in as you go if it’s easier.

Since I’m not very familiar with the Manga world and all the choices available, I’m going to start by reading some of the Manga Shakespeare! I’m looking forward to this introduction to a whole new reading world! Thanks, Rhinoa!

1. Manga Shakespeare: Macbeth
2. Manga Shakespeare: The Tempest
3. Return to Labyrinth, Vol. 1, by Jake T. Forbes