Batgirl of Burnside Vol.1

23164970Batgirl of Burnside is great for many reasons.

The art is fantastic with awesome facial expressions, a practical but beautiful costume design, diverse characters, and exciting action panels.

I liked how the social media was incorporated into the page. Seeing the texts, e-mails and dating profiles helped the story move forward without too much exposition and gave the comic a more contemporary feel.

Babs is the perfect combination of smart, heroic and fun. She is a great role model for young women. She isn’t perfect and her vanity gets her into trouble but she is well meaning and she uses her wits and strength.

The narrative strays from the old Barbara Gordan timeline I’m familiar with but DC’s new comics have done that with many heroes and for the most part I’ve liked the changes.

I liked that the comic included the police perspective and that a young woman with a disability was able to use her technical skills to help fight crime.

Freshman Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions, Revelations, and Other Nonsense

84927872The graphic novel Freshman Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions, Revelations and Other Nonsense by Corinne Mucha is a fun, realistic look at the excitement and anxiety of starting high school.

I like that it had various perspectives. It focuses on the little things rather than big drama. It’s the type of thing anyone can relate to.

It only took a few minutes to read but it was enjoyable.

 

Paige by Paige

8928004Laura Lee Gulledge has created one of the most expressive and artistic graphic novels I’ve read.

In Page by Paige she illustrates emotions beautifully and hauntingly. Complex feelings and thoughts of impostor syndrome, being an introvert, anxiety, homesickness and more are brought to life in art that defies the frames of the comic and is worthy of being framed on a wall.

It’s a sweet book appropriate for young teens but that can appeal to older teens. If you are looking for a realistic graphic novel about growing up and figuring out who you are this is a good one.

 

LumberJanes

aprilThe LumberJanes is a strange but fun graphic novel suited for tweens.

The girls in the comic are quirky, diverse, and have hilarious one liners like “I have many skills. Falling is among them.” They make fairy tale references as they battle mysterious wildlife and often exclaim the names of famous women where there would normally be an “oh my God”. A lot of the references might be lost on kids but they are amusing for readers who recognize the names.

Why are hipster Yetis so odd?

Because they can’t even.

The graphic novel is broken lumberjanes1-e1406304295769down into chapters based on the badges the girls earn as LumberJanes.

While it has the pace and interest level appropriate for ages 10-13 the girls do use words like “jerk”, “stupid” and “what the junk” in place of swears and I know some parents might object to it.

It’s off the wall and has no real explanation in Vol. 1 for why there are 3 eyed beasts and possessed boy-scouts…but if you like fun stories about adventurous girls this is worth a look.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1

20898019I heard great things about Ms. Marvel and it lived up to the hype.

G. Willow Wilson  writes some of the best character development I’ve seen in a graphic novel.

This is a perfect comic for a book club because it opens up discussion about subtle prejudice, feminism, body image, religion and more. Even though it ties into the Marvel Universe readers don’t have to be familiar with previous comics to follow the story- it serves as an introduction.

I think this is particularly important in my community right now where I’m hearing a lot of negativity about Muslim refugees. The main character is a young Muslim girl with a strict but caring family. She wants to find a way to fit in while maintaining her culture and it is challenging for her to find acceptance.

I have already ordered Vol. 2 and look forward to reading it.

Nimona

193510431A fantasy adventure with a dark sarcastic sense of humour. Starring anti-heroes this graphic novel will appeal to grown up fans of Megamind and Despicable Me. Teens who like a sympathetic villain character and supernatural powers will love Nimona.

It is refreshing to see a female character who is empowered but imperfect. She’s a feisty monster. Not hero or a damsel in distress but her own thing.

It’s a weird but wonderful read.

The Plain Janes

313162The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg is an exciting graphic novel geared mostly towards teen girls.

Rebellion, art and friendship are explored through the familiar “new girl” trope but go beyond typical high school drama. The story is framed by a terror attack. Jane’s character evolves because of the trauma.

I thought the mother’s overprotective anxieties were realistically smothering and anxiety inducing for Jane. Jane’s obsession reminiscent of  While You Were Sleeping    makes sense given her need to connect with someone who shared her experience.

A quick, enjoyable read for teens looking for realistic fiction in graphic novel format.

This One Summer

This One Summer is a graphic novel by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. It’s a coming of age story about two tweens who have spent the summer together for years but are at an awkward age where the things they used to do aren’t “cool” enough anymore. First conversations about sexuality are handled well in the novel- I think the mix of curiosity, disgust and longing was right on. The girls get emotionally invested in the lives of the clerks at the video store. Eavesdropping, spying and renting movies that are too mature for them for a chance to speak to the older boys become as much a part of their summer as their usual beach time.

The book also focuses on how the problems the parents are going through impacts the kids. Depression, tension and grief experienced after a miscarriage aren’t communicated well with the girls and they are confused about the one girl’s mother distancing herself from the usual family fun.

The art did a great job of portraying emotions. Ranging from realistic facial expressions to an awesome panel with a symbolically twisted up stomach twitching nervously. I liked that despite their conversations about sexuality the young girls were not portrayed in a sexualized manner. They were curious about what others were doing and what they’d be like next summer but they were drawn like children, and not in an exploitative manner. The author and illustrator collaborate really well together. The words and images meshed so well I could have believed the same person did both. This is a complement because I think they communicated well about the tone and characterization.

This is the winner of the CLA Young Adult Book Award for books published in 2014. They have done a fantastic job of showing us how profound graphic novels can be, while still being fun and accessible to youth.

The Night Wanderer

I enjoyed this graphic novel. It had nice art, that was stylistic but clear. The story incorporated first nations legends, giving it a Canadian feel that I think earns it bonus points for a Canadian award. It deals with guilt, prejudice, and family conflict. It was a very quick read that could appeal to fans of paranormal comics. I didn’t feel struck by a new concept or fantastic character development but it was an enjoyable enough book.

 

War Brothers

war brothers cover art

This graphic novel deals with the very difficult subject of child soldiers. I find the topic  both upsetting, and important to share. I think the author did a great job of showing that these soldiers are victims. Even the ones who commit atrocities do so under such duress that they feel they have no other option. That loss of innocence is mourned in the comic and beautifully illustrated through facial expressions and body language. Unlike many graphic novels, this one has a narration that I think of like a voice-over to a documentary. It works for me personally as a reader but I wonder if teens who read more comics that I do would prefer it to be more dialogue based.

I think this is something that could potentially be used in a classroom. It deals with history, social studies, art, and literature. It could spark a lot of discussion. It is mature subject matter, and I can see young teens becoming upset as they read it. I got emotional and frightened as I did. This is the point though, and I think it is essential that Canadian teens be aware of what goes on in the world. That it is in graphic novel form makes the story more accessible to youth, and I was relieved it wasn’t as gory as I feared while maintaining the serious nature of the story.