5-Star Book Reviews: Graphic Novels

We continue our series of posts featuring some of the best books in the CA Library collection — today’s featured titles are all Graphic Novels, both fiction and nonfiction. Follow the links for each book to learn more from the CA Library catalog!

Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau — Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band, if he can just convince his dad to let him quit their struggling family bakery. Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away his days over rising doughs and hot ovens. But in the midst of interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easy-going guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. “A fresh take on the coming-of-age story that spotlights the triumphs and travails of young people” (School Library Journal).

Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu — Eric Bittle may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur patisser, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. “Based on a popular webcomic, this is a warm story with an irresistible protagonist, a clever supporting cast, and lively and plentiful game and practice scenes” (Kirkus Reviews).

Deadendia, Book 1: The Watcher’s Test by Hamish Steele — Barney needs a job and a place to live. Luckily, he finds both in Dead End, a theme park haunted house! Unfortunately, Dead End also serves as a portal to hell. Along with his best friend Norma and talking dog Pugsley, he must battle demonic party poopers, undead country singers and scariest of all: his love life. “Steele’s gorgeous art relies on a rich, vibrant palette and exaggerated character design to create a memorable world that begs to be explored” (School Library Journal).

Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda by Jean-Philippe Stassen — The 2000 winner of the Goscinny Prize for outstanding graphic novel script, this is the harrowing tale of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, as seen through the eyes of a boy named Deogratias. He is an ordinary teenager, in love with a girl named Bénigne — but Deogratias is a Hutu and Bénigne is a Tutsi who dies in the genocide, and Deogratias himself plays a part in her death. “Stassen is a journalist who lives in Rwanda, and his art is bold and clear, using different color palettes to seamlessly shift between before and after” (School Library Journal).

The Giver by P. Craig Russell and Galen Showman — In this graphic adaptation of Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal-winning classic novel, a young boy discovers the dark secrets behind his seemingly ideal world. Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and learns the terrible truth about the society in which he lives. “A first-rate visual reframing: sensitive, artistically brilliant, and as charged as its enigmatic predecessor with profound challenges to mind and heart” (Kirkus Reviews). Borrow the ebook

Grand Theft Horse by Greg Neri and Corban Wilkin — Based on actual events, this is the graphic biography of horse trainer Gail Ruffu and her decision to take a racehorse from the hands of a group of abusive co-owners and the legal battles that followed. “Wilkin’s boldly outlined pen-and-ink art is all angles and scratchy lines, expertly conveying emotions and action sequences. Ruffu’s tenacity and the book’s satisfying conclusion will appeal to fans of John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell’s March trilogy” (School Library Journal).

The Iliad by Gareth Hinds — In a companion volume to his award-winning adaptation of The Odyssey, the incomparable graphic novelist Gareth Hinds masterfully adapts Homer’s classic wartime epic. More than three thousand years ago, two armies faced each other in an epic battle that rewrote history and came to be known as the Trojan War. The Iliad, Homer’s legendary account of this nine-year ordeal, is considered the greatest war story of all time and one of the most important works of Western literature. “An expertly crafted rendition and a welcome invitation to younger readers to immerse themselves in the ancient past” (Kirkus Reviews).

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell — Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend. “Touching gently but powerfully on topics of bullying, homophobia, and toxic relationships, this superb graphic novel has its finger on the pulse of teenage concerns” (Booklist).

Last Pick, Book 1 by Jason Walz — An alien abduction has left behind only those younger than sixteen, or older than sixty-five, or too “disabled” to work. In other words, people who weren’t a threat — until now. Twins Sam & Wyatt are ready to chuck their labels, break free from their captors, & inspire others to do the same. “Messages about valuing all humans add meaningful layers to this fast-paced adventure featuring a cast of likable heroes and creepy, memorable aliens” (Publishers Weekly).

On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden — In two interwoven timelines, a ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together, and two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love, only to learn the pain of loss. “The artwork, from expansive landscapes to cozy glimpses of the shipmates snuggled together watching TV, is a sight to behold. Bound to be a sci-fi favorite, especially for teens who also appreciated Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay” (School Library Journal). Borrow the ebook

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks — New York Times bestselling author Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park) and Eisner Award-winning artist Faith Erin Hicks have teamed up to create this tender and hilarious story about two irresistible teens discovering what it means to leave behind a place – -and a person — with no regrets. “Visually bright and appealing in autumnal reds, oranges, and yellows, the art enhances this endearing picture of teenage love” (Kirkus Reviews). Borrow the ebook

Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll — The critically acclaimed, award-winning, modern classic Speak is now a stunning graphic novel. “Speak up for yourself — we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless — an outcast — because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. “With spellbinding artwork, this exceptional adaptation masterfully does justice to its source material while adding new depth and nuance” (Booklist).

Spill Zone, Book 1 by Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland — Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Uncanny manifestations and lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone. “This unnerving, gripping title — Westerfeld’s first original graphic novel — is bound to entice older comics fans, especially those interested in darker sci-fi and nuanced characterization. A must-have” (School Library Journal).

Undocumented: A Worker’s Fight by Duncan Tonatiuh — Told via the ancient Mixtec codex – -accordion fold — format, the story of immigrant workers who have come to the United States without papers. Juan grew up in Mexico working in the fields to help provide for his family. Struggling for money, Juan crosses over into the United States and becomes an undocumented worker, living in a poor neighborhood, working hard to survive. “By embedding multiple languages (English, Spanish, Mixteco, protest placards in Chinese), Tonatiuh underscores shared experiences, regardless of background: “What matters is that we face the same problems”­ — and one hopes, together, achieve ​similar successes” (Booklist).

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