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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

The Shadow Hero

The Shadow Hero, story by Gene Luen Yang & art by Sonny Liew
First Second, July 2014
Reviewed from final copy

I don’t review graphic novels here that often, although I read most of them, because I always worry that I don’t know enough about art. But I know enough to know that this is fantastic as a novel and as a work of graphica.

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The Undertaking of Lily Chen

17934370 The Undertaking of Lily ChenThe Undertaking of Lily Chen, Danica Novgorodoff
First Second, March 2014
Reviewed from final copy

I almost didn’t write this review. Not for a lack of quality in Danica Novgorodoff’s graphic novel–it has quality bursting out of the pages. No, I almost abandoned this one because of that pesky eligibility question. It’s an issue I raised last year when I reviewed Lucy Knisley’s Relishanother book that was technically an adult pub. But, there was enough ambiguity in the publisher-defined age-range that I thought it was worth a discussion. I’m going to sound like a broken record, but I think the same principle applies for the delightfully morbid love story that is The Undertaking of Lily Chen. Yeah, technically it’s an adult pub, but if I ran the world (or, at the very least, the Printz committee) I would put this book forward for discussion.
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This One Summer

summer 353x500 This One SummerThis One Summer, Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
First, Second, May 2014
Reviewed from final copy

In my head, as I’ve written this post, it’s mostly been a series of exclamation points and the word “squeeeeeeee” interspersed with pictures from the book’s pages. I mean, that’s legit Printz discussion, no? With 6 starred reviews, gorgeous art, a meditative story line, it really seems like my work here is done and I’m only 57 words along in this review. But perhaps you need convincing? Or are just in the mood for a good gush? In the name of due diligence, let’s explore what’s making me go squee. We’ve got beautiful art, strong characterization and an emotional, summer-wandering plot with complicated themes adding texture and weight…I’m pretty much squeeing over the whole package of this spare-but-profound graphic novel. [Read more...]

Graphic Novel Roundup: A Study in Contrasts

It’s been a strong year for graphic novels. Boxers & Saints is increasingly looking like a frontrunner, but there’s also RelishMarch, Book One (don’t worry, we’re definitely covering this one as soon as we get a copy), and now the two titles that are up for discussion this morning: Delilah Dirk & The Turkish Lieutenant and The War within These Walls. Complete opposites in genre, style, and tone, but each have outstanding qualities that are certainly worth a closer look. Are these qualities enough to nab a Printz?

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Boxers & Saints — Or, What Defines “Book” Anyway?

I had hoped to post this before the NBA was announced, but fate (and also one very lively 6-year-old) intervened, and then intervened some more.

Regardless, here’s a verbatim transcript of my thinking when I finished Boxers & Saints:

Wow.

Also, hmmm.

I read the two volumes back to back in the intended order, and I’m looking at them together in this post — but of course, that’s the crux of the question: I can go ahead and tell you all the reasons Boxers & Saints, as a single entity, deserves recognition as one of the year’s absolute bests, and I might be 100% right — but those arguments mean nothing if the RealCommittee considers them as two individual texts.

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Relish: My Life in the Kitchen

15786110 Relish: My Life in the KitchenRelish: My Life in the Kitchen, Lucy Knisley
First Second, April 2013
Reviewed from Final Copy

I was diagnosed with Celiac disease on Halloween eight years ago. That’s eight years of politely saying, “no, thank you” when offered a delicious pastry, forgoing mom’s signature stuffing on Thanksgiving, and checking restaurant menus ahead of any dinner out with friends. As anyone with food issues can tell you, the hardest part of having a restricted diet is adjusting socially and emotionally. Lucy Knisley perfectly defines the value of food in Relish: “When we eat, we take in more than just sustenance.” She’s actually describing the cultural immersion through food she experienced in Japan, but the statement resonates because it’s about the complex role of food in our lives.

Relish has only received one star (from Publisher’s Weekly), but it’s one of my favorite titles of the year. Yeah, it speaks to me because I have a lot of complicated emotions about food, but it’s also charming and witty, earnest and playful, and it has illustrated recipes that will make you want to run to your kitchen and start cooking.
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Ghost in the Well

anyacover 150x150 Ghost in the Well We have one graphic novel on our current list of contendas. (Well, we wanted to consider Craig Thompson’s Habibi, too, but that was published for adults, which means it’s ineligible. Le sigh.) In any case, Anya’s Ghost is getting a lot of critical love (four starred reviews as of 9/1) and even has a blurb from Neil Gaiman!

The plot: Anya goes to a second-rate prep school and wants nothing more than to fit in. Well, if she could also snag adorable Sean as a boyfriend, she’d be great. And if she could lose a couple of pounds, that’d be fab. And if she could change her unpronounecable last name, life would be perfect. You know, she wouldn’t mind if people would stop associating her with Dima, another Russian immigrant at the school. And maybe if she had more friends than just Siobhan….but really, Anya’s a simple girl with simple wishes. Really. Until she falls down a well (long story, but you guys, it’s perfectly understandable!) and ends up with a new best friend: Emily, the ghost of a girl who mysteriously ended up down that well 90 years ago. We all know friendship’s difficult, but it’s even more complicated when your new best friend is dead. [Read more...]