It’s been a strong year for graphic novels. Boxers & Saints is increasingly looking like a frontrunner, but there’s also Relish, March, 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?
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:
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.
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.
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...]