Roller Girl: Newberry-honored coming of age graphic novel about roller derby and difficult tween friendships

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Victoria Jamieson's 2015 graphic novel Roller Girl won the prestigious Newberry Honor Award and it's easy to see why: Jamieson's story of a young teen's interest in roller derby is the perfect vehicle to explore the difficult and even traumatic way that girls' friendships change as they become teenagers, while never losing sight of the core story, about personal excellence, teamwork, and hard-hitting, girl-positive roller derby.

Nimona: a YA graphic novel that raises serious, unanswerable moral quandries with snappy dialog and slapstick

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I first encountered Noelle Stevenson's work through her groundbreaking, brilliant comic Lumberjanes, but before the 'Janes, Stevenson was tearing up the webcomics world with Nimona, which was collected and published by Harper Teen in 2015.

My Sister Rosa: disquieting YA novel about loving an adorable psychopath

Che Taylor is 17 and his little sister, Rosa, is 10 -- and she's a psychopath. His itinerant parents are relocating the family -- again -- to start (another) social enterprise, this one in New York, and Che knows that when the plane from Bangkok touches down, Rosa will resume her secret campaigns of psychological torture and ghastly cruelty, and that he'll be the only one who can see through the cherubic, charismatic, ringleted facade to the monster underneath. If only he didn't love her so much...

Eleanor & Park: a terrifying YA romance that has rescued its readers and frightened their parents

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Last week, the National Coalition Against Censorship honored Rainbow Rowell for her refusal to be back down on the frequent challenges to her multiple-award-winning, bestselling 2013 novel Eleanor & Park. I was there, and got a copy of the novel, and have read nothing since, and now that I've finished it, I find myself profoundly moved.

Kids explain how banned and challenged books helped them and even saved their lives

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Banned Books Week has come and gone but we can be sure of one thing: the coming year will be marked by challenges to the same kinds of books that were controversial this year, and in years past.

They're making a Twits ale from Roald Dahl's body-yeast

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Roald Dahl spent the last of his days in a special armchair that he modded to help him with back pain from a WWII injury; now, in honour of the Dinner at the Twits interactive theatre events, the craft 40FT Brewery has swabbed some yeast from Dahl's chair and cultured it to brew Mr. Twit's Odious Ale, which will be served at the event. Read the rest

The 13 Clocks: Grimm's Fairytales meet The Phantom Tollbooth

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I discovered The 13 Clocks by reading Neil Gaiman's introduction to the 2008 New York Review of Books edition (which I found in The View from the Cheap Seats, a massive collection of Gaiman's nonfiction), where he calls it "Probably the best book in the world" -- how could I resist?

To do in San Francisco: Cecil Castellucci and Ben Loory at SF in SF

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The next SF in SF event features Cecil Castellucci (previously), author of books as varied as Odd Duck and Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure and Ben Loory, author of The Baseball Player and the Walrus and many other titles. Read the rest

How YA comics creators all over the world created the "5 Worlds" project

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5 Worlds is a young SFF project that's been a hard secret to keep these past years! It's a five book series, 250 pages each, full color. It has five worlds and there are five of us working together on it. The story involves an impossible quest to light these ancient beacons left behind by an older civilization of Feline gods. The heroes are Oona Lee, a clumsy practitioner of a magical dancing art, An Tzu, a little boy from the toxic slums, and Jax Amboy, a superstar athlete known to everyone in the five worlds. And as they're thrown together they and their worlds go through some surprising transformations. Read the rest

The new Lumberjanes book is sweet and badass, with a hell of a monster

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Books one and two of Lumberjanes introduced us to the characters and setting of the awesome, women-run, girl-positive comics: the girls of Roanoke cabin at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types are Lumberjanes, being trained in the badass arts. Book three -- collecting comics from a kind of victory lap of the title after its amazing success -- turned the series' reins over to some of the best writers and illustrators in comics-dom for a series of vignettes. Now, with Out of Time, the fourth book, the original creative team are back at the helm, telling a long-form story that illuminates the Lumberjane backstory and introduces one of the best, scariest monsters of cryptozoologica.

Jughead: Zdarsky's reboot is funny, fannish, and freaky

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For the past couple years, the "new, hipster" Archie has been pushing the envelope on what can be done within the confines of an old, beloved (and outdated) media brand: there was Kevin Keller, a gay character; Jughead coming out as asexual; a seriously scary zombie story; Sharknado spinoffs; a breast cancer storyline; even a guest appearance by Jaime "Love and Rockets" Hernandez: but Chip "Sex Criminals" Zdarsky's run on Jughead, illustrated by Erica Henderson and just collected in a trade paperback shows just how much fun the new normal of Archie can be!

Hope Larson's "Compass South": swashbuckling YA graphic novel

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Hope Larson is a comics genius, the woman hand-picked to adapt Madeline L'Engle's Wrinkle In Time for comics, who furthermore just nailed it, and whose other projects are every bit as rich and wonderful. Today she begins a new young adult series, Four Points, whose first volume, Compass South is a treasure-chest of swashbuckling themes and action.

Steeplejack: diverse YA fantasy driven by expert plotting

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AJ Hartley's new YA series opens with Steeplejack, a whodunnit whose unlikely and welcome hard-boiled detective is a young woman who has to beat class and race discrimination as well as the bad guys.

Kickstarting two YA fantasy novels from the press behind the Young Explorer's Adventure Guide

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Jenise writes, "Dreaming Robot Press is a teensy little publisher in New Mexico trying to fill a much-needed niche: they publish science fiction for children. In particular, they publish the Young Explorer's Adventure Guide, an annual anthology of SF short stories, most of which are for middle grades readers written by such luminaries as Nancy Kress and Beth Cato." Read the rest

The Nameless City: YA graphic novel about diplomacy, hard and soft power, colonialism, bravery, and parkour

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Faith Erin Hicks (Zombies Calling, Friends with Boys, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong) is back with the first volume of a new, epic YA trilogy: The Nameless City, a fantasy adventure comic about diplomacy, hard and soft power, colonialism, bravery, and parkour.

Kickstarting a guide to the Portland locations in Cleary's "Ramona" books

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Beverly Cleary's Ramona books delighted generations of young readers. Elly from Microcosm Press (previously) writes, "Walking with Ramona: Exploring Beverly Cleary's Portland is the first ever guidebook to the neighborhood and time when Mrs. Cleary grew up and set her Ramona books." Read the rest

Gene Luen Yang's inaugural speech as National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

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Gene Luen Yang burst on the graphic novel scene in 2006 with the Eisner-award winning American Born Chinese, a brilliant memoir about growing up as an Asian American; and followed up with a diverse oeuvre that spanned video games, Asian representation in superhero comics, and digital literacy.

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