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Meta: a good home for the teen mind
from graphic novel guest blogger Francisca Goldsmith:
Adolescent development entails huge leaps in how the nervous system and brain are able to process and work with input. Depth perception improves, abstract thinking skills become increasingly refined, and maturing teens are able to consider how facts and circumstances influence each other. If ever there were a gem of an adult book for teens discovering and reveling in these powers of “meta,” that would be Art Spiegelman’s considered and glib-free thought on the comic book that gave him unanticipated fame and caused a platoon of uninitiated comics critics to pause and reconsider how mice, comics, and the genocide many equate with World War II’s righteousness as a war could be presented engagingly and accessibly, without distracting from truth.
Metamaus is an unusual apotheosis: a perfect example of how the particular and personal can, indeed, convey the universally accessible. Why the Holocaust? Because it was there [in Spieigelman’s experience of life itself]. Why mice? Why comics? That’s a goodly part of the book. It’s not an easy read; but it’s an essential one…if you have care for meta-thinking.
Adult/High School–Twenty-five years after the publication of the book-length sequential art history of Spiegelman interpreting his father’s memories of the Holocaust, this lush volume offers myriad approaches to that work, an explanation of Spiegelman’s project, and introductions to the muses who sat with him across the decade of its making. Comprising three long and instructive “interviews” that examine his choice of subject, his selection of metaphors, and his medium of sequential art, this work offers a deep and unique examination appropriate to readers with interests in art, ethnics, and political history, Spiegelman’s specific story, and post-modern literature more generally. Deconstructing the how and why of particular pages in Maus (Pantheon 1986, 1992) is not a workmanlike project but one that gives even more buoyancy to the work that made Spiegelman’s name synonymous with nonfiction comics, incisive sequential art critique, and even accessible Holocaust material. The full-color images lining these pages include draft illustrations, final productions, family snapshots, and archival material on which Spiegelman relied for insightful inspiration. A DVD provides page-by-page links to resource material as well as recordings of the interviews he made with his father. An essential addition to all school and public libraries. –Francisca Goldsmith, Infopeople Project, CA
Filed under: Nonfiction
About Angela Carstensen
Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.
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