I’m struggling to remain even semi-impartial here. This is a book that I loved reading. But when I put it on the list, I was pretty sure I was doing it because of personal reasons, not so much because I was ready to nominate and defend it as a contender. And now that I’m writing up this review, well, I’m fairly muddled. AS USUAL.
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...]
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.
By my count, Year of the Beasts has received two stars; it’s in the buzz portion of our contenda list. Some of that buzz, I know, has been from me to Karyn: Cecil Castellucci is always doing interesting work, and Nate Powell’s Swallow Me Whole blew me away a few years ago and I can’t wait to read it, I kept saying. I’ve actually been carrying this book around in my bag for months, starting it and then stopping because…well, I don’t know why, exactly. I just wanted to keep reading it, I think. (Don’t look for sense-making there.) So it seems having a hard deadline for a review is a good thing for this type of nonsensical situation. I don’t think Karyn wants to hear any more buzz from me until I can also tell her I actually read the book.
We have: summer, the end of school, the arrival of the carnival, sisters, friends, boys. But then fall arrives, and so do tragedies, Greek myths, panels and pictures. Told in alternating chapters, this is the story of Tessa and Lulu. Castellucci writes the summer chapters, the Then chapters. Tessa and Lulu had a hard summer; Tessa is the older sister, the plainer sister, the sister with a crush on Charlie. Lulu is younger, prettier — and Charlie only has eyes for her. Powell’s art takes over the fall chapters, the Now chapters, except that Now Tessa’s monster self is apparent; she is transformed into Medusa and her hard eyed glare turns friends and family into stone figures. Her friend, Celina, is a siren, a mermaid on a seashell. And Tessa can’t take her eyes off the Minotaur, a wounded, wandering figure that doesn’t want to speak to her. [Read more...]
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...]