Have you ever told a lie that you thought was no big deal? It was just a little story to make things easier. No one was hurt by it. But then it started to creep into other parts of your life and you had to remember to hold all of the pieces of that little lie together and hope no one caught you?
This is the premise of the graphic novel Peanut by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe. Sadie is starting at a new high school. Looking for a conversation starter, she decides to tell people about her peanut allergy. She even writes about it for one of her classes. The only problem. Sadie doesn’t have a peanut allergy. But now she has to remember all of the time to act as if she does.
The illustrations in this book are wonderful and the story is just great. I felt really anxious for Sadie as things started to unravel for her (there’s lots of avoiding the school nurse who wants to know why she hasn’t dropped off medical forms and an epi-pen…she manages to lie her way out of that, briefly). This was probably one of my favorite books that I read this summer.
Since I wasn’t here on Wednesday, I decided that today I’d feature two books that are new to the library. And if you’re a junior, the topic should be one in the forefront of your brain right now.
Two new books about 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters. This was one of the first African-American regiments to serve during World War I and changed many American’s opinions regarding African-Americans serving in the armed forces. They were known as “the regiment that never lost a man captured, a trench, or a foot of ground.” They were honored by the French and got their nickname from the Germans.
Not only were the Harlem Hellfighters tenacious fighters, they also had a marching band that performed all over the world.
So, there are two very different books available. The first is Harlem Hellfighters by J. Patrick Lewis and Gary Kelley. This is a short, illustrated history of the regiment with beautiful illustrations. If you’re not familiar with them at all, this book is a good place to start.
The second book is The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks, of World War Z fame. This is a graphic novel. It’s a fictionalized account of their battles as well as the discrimination they faced.
Over the last few years, I have grown to have a real appreciation for graphic novels. I was moved by Maus, learned a lot from Persepolis and Boxers & Saints, and LOL’d at Nothing Could Possibly Go Wrong and Chickenhare. But I will admit, that I sometimes skim graphic novels. I concentrate on reading the words instead of synthesizing the words and the pictures for the full story.
That’s why these two books are so cool. They are wordless graphic novels. You might think that this means you can “read” them really quick, because all you need to do is glance at the pictures, but it’s not that easy. To really appreciate the story, you need to take you time and really “read” each panel, look at the detail in each scene.
Robot Dreams tells the story of a friendship between a dog and his robot. But after a trip to the beach when the robot becomes rusty, the dog abandons him there. He then spends the next year trying to find a friend as good as the robot. Robot, meanwhile, spends his time daydreaming of better places.
The Arrival is about a man who leaves his family to begin building a life for them in a new country. The images are beautiful sepia toned drawings of his journey to a place where he does not speak the language, and therefore cannot communicate with words. There are some fantastical features in the new land, which are meant to emphasize how strange a foreign country can be when you are alone and know no one.
And this year there’s a bonus…Spirit Week. Those of you going to Florida will also need some reading materials for the plane and the van rides, right?
I’ve been reading books for the YALSA Best of the Best Challenge. These are all books that received some type of recognition from YALSA awards committees for being outstanding in their category. The two books I have to suggest today are ones that are on that list.
Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks paired up on the graphic novel Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong and landed on the Great Graphic Novels list. This is a fun story pitting the robotics club against the cheerleaders for school funding. And the school’s star basketball player is caught in between (since his best friend is the head of the robotics club and the head cheerleader is his ex-girlfriend). When things get out of hand, both groups lose any chance at getting funded. So the come up with an alternate plan…robot cage fighting…on Thanksgiving. You can’t see how that might go badly, can you?
(Faith Erin Hicks is one of my new favorites…she has lots of web comics that are worth checking out.)
On a completely different note is Sally Gardner’s Maggot Moon, a Printz Honor book. I’m not even sure how to describe this particular book. Standish Treadwell has two different colored eyes and a learning disability. He and his grandfather live under an oppressive government (could this be somewhere in Europe if Germany had won WWII?). Standish’s best friend has disappeared. A moon man has appeared. And Standish may very well topple the image the government has worked to hard to cultivate. It’s a strange little story, but definitely interesting.
By the way…if anyone is interested in doing our own best of the best challenge, please let me know and we’ll come up with our own parameters (you can also go to The Hub and sign up to do the challenge yourself).
And finally, many of the awards lists ask for input from the public. If you’ve read a new graphic novel that you think should be considered for Great Graphic Novels, come and tell me and we’ll submit it to the committee.
Since last Thursday, one of the big news stories has been the death of former South African president Nelson Mandela. If you don’t know much about him, he’s worth getting to know. The library has a few biographies of Mandela, the most interesting one being Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book. It was released in 2005 by the Nelson Mandela foundation. My favorite quote is from Mandela’s introduction to the book, “You know that you are really famous the day that you discover that you have become a comic character.”
Later this week, look for books related to The Hour of Code!