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BEA Highlights – Part I

For those in the book industry and/or in New York City the buzz this week is all about Book Expo at the Jacob Javits Center. The week started with SLJ’s Day of Dialogue, and Tuesday, the exhibit hall opened as did many of the great sessions about books – all sorts of books.

Since I have a day job, I was only able to attend for 1 day (Wednesday)… and it was a great day. You could feel the buzz and energy throughout the hall. Which makes me wonder why anyone is prophesizing the end of books? (Though with the abundance of ipads I witnessed both on the subways and on the exhibit hall floor, I definitely see a shift in how people are reading.)

Now, while Book Expo is not regulated to comics, you couldn’t go up and down the exhibit hall and not find comics. So here are some of the comics and graphic novels that caught my eyes.

At the Candlewick booth, I saw the many Toon titles, but I was most excited by a new book by Matt Phelan (A Storm in the Barn). Around the World looks bothintriguing and beautiful. I can’t wait until the weekend where I might find a few minutes to curl up with this exciting new adventure.

Orca Publishers which is known for their hi/lo books that reach reluctant readers bridged into the comics world a while back. I missed their Graphic Guide series (which has been out for 2 years or so) and their newest adventure, Power Plays, looks like it will introduce young readers into the world of politics. Mike Deas illustrates the Power Plays series and is now writing and illustrating his own comic. Dalen and Gole: Scandal in Port Angus (Due out in October). The comic features two very cuddly looking aliens and is sure to be a great adventure.

Capstone/Stone Arch took their previously published Graphic Spin books and compiled them in 2 affordable paperback editions. I was able to just flip through the books, but the artwork really caught my eye. And I’m really excited that this series, which was previously being sold for $300 in hardcover (for the entire set) can now be purchased for under $36. This will definitely make it more affordable for small libraries like mine.

Capstone also has a new series, Good & Evil which simultaneously tells the same story from 2 different point of views: good and evil. These thin little volumes would probably work great in a classroom when learning point of view.

At the Kids Can Press booth, I was very excited by a few titles. There’s a new Binky the Space Cat coming out this fall, Binky Under Pressure. In this volume, Binky learns to make friends with another cat who has come to inspect that Binky is doing his job well.

There is also another book in the Three Thieves series  due out in September. The Sign of the Black Rock takes place in an inn and all the action is moving from room to room. According to the marketing director I spoke to, it’s a bit darker than the first volume.

I was most excited by Hocus Pocus – a wordless comic about a magician’s rabbit who has spotted a carrot and only needs to get by the magician’s dog to eat it.

Look for more highlights at BEA later this week!

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.


  1. Kat Kan says:

    Many of the Graphic Guide books feature information about ecology; each book includes lots of information about whatever the mystery is about, such as media literacy, genetic manipulation in agriculture, even sports such as soccer. I really like the books, because the central mystery in each book is a strong story. I also like the revolving cast of characters, many of whom just happen to be non-white, from different ethnic backgrounds. I’ve reviewed several volumes for Booklist.

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