Despite the prologue, this graphic novel (Messy Roots by Laura Gao) isn’t about the pandemic. The beautiful color pages of the first chapter describe what this book is really about: freedom and roots. Two concepts that can seem like opposites but that blend together in a beautiful combination in this book. Opening her story with her childhood in Wuhan, Gao makes it easy to see how different her adolescence in Texas is from her early years. As a child transplanted to the US at a young age, Gao quickly learns the importance of fitting in. She changes her Chinese name for the American “Laura” andRead More →

Set on Wilneff Island in Nova Scotia, Molly Knox Ostertag’s graphic novel The Girl from the Sea revolves around the life of fifteen-year-old Morgan Kwon.  Morgan likes to keep her life tucked neatly into boxes, but she finds that plan unraveling when she meets Keltie. Keltie brings a sort of wild, chaotic, fairy-tale magic to Morgan’s otherwise grounded life. Keltie is a selkie, a seal who transforms into a human to walk on land for a period of time.  It is Morgan’s kiss that provides the magic for the transformation. But Morgan wants to keep that part of her life hidden from her friends Serena, Lizzie,Read More →

With Heartstopper, Alice Oseman has created a heart-warming story of friendship that grows beyond those simple bounds, and the pictures in this graphic novel are as telling as its words. A drummer and mathematics wizard who is better at virtual sports than real ones, Charlie Spring is a sophomore at Truham School for Boys in England.  With the start of the new school year, he is seated next to a young man who is a year older and a star of the rugby team: Nicolas Nelson. When Nick sees the speed at which Charlie can run, he invites him to join the rugby team.  However,Read More →

When they were fifth graders, May Harper—a budding writer—and Libby Deaton—a budding artist, created Princess X.  “A blue-haired girl in a puff-sleeved princess dress, wearing a big gold crown and red sneakers” (3), Princess X was born on a sidewalk as chalk art, but the two girls took her home and built an imaginary empire—filling notebooks and sketchbooks with her adventures.  “The princess became their alter ego, their avatar, their third best friend” (8). Several years later, as the girls were entering high school, Libby and her mother were in a mysterious car accident.  Separated from her best friend, May couldn’t shake the dream that toldRead More →

When Greg Heffley from The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series gets to high school, his journal may look a lot like Larkin Pace’s hilarious blog in Rick Detorie’s (One Big Happy) The Accidental Genius of Weasel High. Larkin is 14 and a typical freshman tech geek: introverted and height-challenged; not comfortable with girls, jocks, or popular kids; wishing he was cooler than he is; has every classic Hollywood film memorized and can recite movie dialog on a dime; a small group of likewise oddball friends; and a family he’d rather escape from that claim relation to.  But Larkin knows he will be the nextRead More →

At the start of their junior year at Georgia O’Keefe School for the Arts (aka Fashion High), Chloe, Mackenzie, Isabel and Erika are best friends. But over the couse of the year their friendship is seriously tested as each girl faces a variety of personal challenges and has to make hard choices about who she is, what she wants, and what’s important to her.    The story is told through Chloe’s illustrated journal as she looks back over a year that has altered the rules of their friendships and their social standing at school. Trying to make sense of everything that’s happened, the story chronicles the trust,Read More →

Tales from Outer Suburbia is a collection of short stories, in which we meet an exchange student who’s really an alien, a secret room that becomes the perfect place for a quick escape, a typical tale of grandfatherly exaggeration that is actually even more bizarre than he says – it’s an assortment of the odd and magical details  that are brought to life in mesmerizing and fantastic illustrations. Combining the amazing drawing style from his bestseller, The Arrival,with eloquent prose, Shaun Tan weaves a scrapbook tapestry of our modern world that is at times both strangely familiar and unbelievable.  My favorite story is “The Nameless Holiday” whereRead More →

Kin, by Holly Black, is an engrossing dark urban fantasy about a girl seeking the truth about her past-and her future. Rue, a typical goth teen, discovers that she is able to see the faerie realm, something that humans cannot do. After the mysterious disappearance of her mother, her father is arrested for allegedly murdering a student.  Rue starts seeing strange people and creatures around her and begins to wonder if she is descending into madness.  Instead she discovers that her mother is a faerie, one of the “good neighbors,” and her father, a mortal, has betrayed her, forcing her to leave the mortal realm.   Yearning to figure out who sheRead More →