Winter hasn’t even set in yet, but First Second is showing off its spring lineup, which includes some promising titles for kids and teens. Grab a hot chocolate and take a look at this list:
Sleep Tight, Anna Banana, by Dominique Roques and Alexis Dormal (ages 3-7): This is a First Second first: A picture book with comics elements. It sounds like a twist on the familiar bedtime tale of a kid who doesn’t want to go to sleep—in this case, Anna Banana does her best to stay awake, even though her toys and stuffed animals are sleepy, but when she finally gets tuckered out, they turn the tables on her. This is the first of two planned Anna Banana books.
The Return of Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke (ages 8-12): We’re big fans of Ben Hatke’s first two Zita the Spacegirl books, featuring an intrepid little girl who travels to distant planets with her quirky companions, so it’s great news that Hatke will be completing the trilogy this spring. Here’s the blurb:
Zita the Spacegirl has saved planets, battled monsters, and wrestled with interplanetary fame. But she faces her biggest challenge yet in the third and final installment of the Zita adventures. Wrongfully imprisoned on a penitentiary planet, Zita has to plot the galaxy’s greatest jailbreak before the evil prison warden can execute his plan of interstellar domination!
This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (age 12 up): The team behind the award-winning Skim is back, this time with a graphic novel about a summer vacation that’s anything but carefree: Teenagers Windy and Rose try to escape from Rose’s battling parents and wind up mixed up with some older teens who are getting into dangerous territory. “It’s a summer of secrets, and sorrow, and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.”
Shackleton, by Nick Bertozzi (age 12 up): Nick Bertozzi, whose previous works include Houdini: The Handcuff King, The Salon, and Lewis and Clark, is back with another historical graphic novel, this one about Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition. I talked to Bertozzi about this book at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo back in September, and he told me about the massive amount of research he had done for it, including a visit to the America’s Cup Museum in Rhode Island. There’s a larger theme to the book—the end of the era of great explorers—and Shackleton’s story is interesting in its own right, so this is a very promising book.
The Shadow Hero, by Gene Yang and Sonny Liew (age 12 up): Gene Yang follows up his Boxers & Saints with something completely different: A superhero story about The Green Turtle, the first Asian superhero, who dates back to the 1940s. Yang and Liew give him an origin story and some new adventures in this retro-styled comic.
Andre the Giant, by Box Brown: There’s no rating on this book, so it’s an adult graphic novel, but the subject matter is likely to have strong teen appeal: It’s the first graphic biography of the professional wrestler Andre the Giant, who stood 7 1/2 feet tall and weighed 500 pounds—literally a giant among men, although the condition that caused him to become so large, and made his career, also led to his early death. Brown draws on both historical records and stories from Andre’s wrestling colleagues to create a nuanced portrait of this important 20th-century cultural figure.
How the World Was, by Emmanuel Guibert: Another adult book that will be of interest to older teens, this is sort of a prequel to Alan’s War, Guibert’s account of his friend Alan Cope’s experiences in France in World War II. This book takes up the earlier period of Cope’s life, his childhood in California during the Great Depression. “A lyrical, touching portrait, How the World Was is a gift for a dear friend in the last moments of his life… and also a meditation on the birth of modern America.”