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December 2016

GraphicNovelReporter.com
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December 2016

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Happy Holidays from GraphicNovelReporter.com
It’s been quite a year for graphic novels. Three BIG firsts: Gene Luen Yang was appointed the National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature; he also was named to the 2016 class of the MacArthur Fellows Program, receiving what is commonly called the "Genius Grant." The MacArthur Foundation that names the fellows said that his "work for young adults demonstrates the potential of comics to broaden our understanding of diverse cultures and people." I had the pleasure of seeing Gene interviewed by Calvin Reid of Publishers Weekly at the Miami Book Fair (see the photo above). Gene is passionate about his Reading Without Walls initiative, which encourages young readers to read outside their comfort zones in three ways: 1) Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you; 2) read a book about a topic you don’t know much about; and 3) read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun. That might be a chapter book, a graphic novel, a book in verse, a picture book or a hybrid book. These ideas also will work for adults. His idea is so simple, but can make a real impact!

MARCH: Book Three by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell won the National Book Award, making it the first graphic novel to receive this prestigious prize. I remember when Chris Staros, the publisher of Top Shelf, told me about their plans for this series about the Civil Rights Movement told through Lewis’ lens. During his acceptance speech, a very tearful Lewis recalled being turned away from a library as a black child when he was growing up in rural Alabama. His encouraging teacher told him to “Read, my child, read.” From there he “tried to read everything.” The three books are brilliantly done, and I highly recommend them; they also are now available as a collection. While it won in the Young People’s category, it’s great reading for all ages. As a reader of this newsletter, you already are someone who has embraced graphic novel reading; this series would be a terrific gateway for any of your friends who have not explored this format.

And last, but certainly not least, since the release of GHOSTS back in September, Raina Telgemeier has locked down six of the 10 listings on the New York Times Paperback Graphic Novel bestseller list, with GHOSTS, SISTERS, DRAMA and SMILE, as well as her graphic novel adaptations of The Baby-Sitters Club titles. Quite an achievement. What are the others on the list? The March Trilogy and The Walking Dead Compendiums 1, 2 and 3. Raina’s voice is so authentic in her work. I love that she does not shy away from tough topics, and writes realistically, which is guaranteed to draw kids in. I watched a young boy clutching a copy of one of the Baby-Sitters Club titles when I was at her New York Comic Con panel and saw him shyly ask her a question after the event. Watching young readers’ faces light up and seeing photos from the crowds who attend her events remind me of the impact that she and others in this world are having on young readers.

Comic conventions continue to grow in popularity, as we have been keeping our list of comic conventions up to date here. It's been nice to see the growth of these smaller shows, which are bringing new fans out to meet creators.

When we sent our first GraphicNovelReporter.com newsletter in December 2008, the world of graphic novels was so different. Eight years later, I am proud of what we have done to bring our readers across The Book Report Network coverage of these books. While we have not sent a GraphicNovelReporter newsletter in a year now, we have kept up our review coverage, typically featuring these reviews on the other sites in The Book Report Network, including Bookreporter.com, 20SomethingReads.com, Teenreads.com and Kidsreads.com, as well as here on GNR. The reviews below will give you a quick catchup on some of our coverage.

Important Note: We will be changing the company that sends our newsletters after the first of the year. The company that we've been working with for the past 15 years, Patron Mail, will be shutting down their newsletter product on December 31st. To ensure that you get the newsletter in your mailbox and not in your SPAM after January 1st, please add newsletter@graphicnovelreporter.com to your address list! I am vowing that we will send out more newsletters in 2017!

Wishing you a fabulous holiday season and a brilliant 2017!

Carol Fitzgerald (Carol@bookreporter.com)
Adult Reviews
THE ONE HUNDRED NIGHTS OF HERO by Isabel Greenberg (Graphic Novel)
In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend, Manfred: If Manfred can seduce Cherry in 100 nights, he can have his castle --- and Cherry. But what Jerome doesn't know is that Cherry is in love with her maid, Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love, betrayal, loyalty and madness. Reviewed by Maya Gittelman.

SHIRLEY JACKSON'S "THE LOTTERY": The Authorized Graphic Adaptation by Miles Hyman (Graphic Novel)
Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” continues to thrill and unsettle readers nearly seven decades after it was first published. This graphic adaptation by Jackson’s grandson, Miles Hyman, allows readers to experience “The Lottery” as never before, or to discover it anew. He has crafted an eerie vision of the hamlet where the tale unfolds and the unforgettable ritual its inhabitants set into motion. Hyman’s full-color, meticulously detailed panels create a noirish atmosphere that adds a new dimension of dread to the original story. Reviewed by Jesse Kornbluth for HeadButler.com.

COUSIN JOSEPH: A Graphic Novel by Jules Feiffer (Graphic Novel)
While in the midst of the Great Depression, Big Sam sees himself as a righteous, truth-seeking patriot, defending the American way against a rising tide of left-wing unionism, strikes and disruption that plague his home town. At the same time, he makes monthly, secret overnight trips on behalf of Cousin Joseph, a mysterious man on the phone he has never laid eyes on, to pay off Hollywood producers to ensure that they will film only upbeat movies that idealize a mythic America. But Sam himself is not in for a happy ending, as step by step the secret of his unseen mentor's duplicity is revealed to him. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.
 
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Young Adult Reviews
SNOW WHITE: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan (Graphic Novel)
The scene: New York City. The dazzling lights cast shadows that grow ever darker as the glitzy prosperity of the Roaring Twenties screeches to a halt. Enter a cast of familiar characters: a young girl, Samantha White, returning after being sent away by her cruel stepmother, the Queen of the Follies, years earlier; her father, the King of Wall Street, who survives the stock market crash only to suffer a strange and sudden death; seven street urchins, brave protectors for a girl as pure as snow; and a mysterious stock ticker that holds the stepmother in its thrall, churning out ticker tape imprinted with the wicked words "Another…More Beautiful…KILL." Reviewed by Dana Cuadrado.

LEVEL UP written by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Thien Pham (Graphic Novel)
Dennis Ouyang has always struggled in the shadow of his parents’ expectations: Stay focused in high school, do well in college, go to medical school, and become a gastroenterologist. But between his father’s death, his academic burnout, and his deep (and distracting) love of video games, Dennis can’t endure. He’s kicked out of college. And that’s when things get…weird. Four adorable --- but bossy --- angels, straight out of a sappy greeting card, appear and take charge of Dennis’ life. He’s back on track to become a gastroenterologist. But is he living the life he wants? Reviewed by Michael Lee Harris.

COMICS CONFIDENTIAL: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft and Life Outside the Box compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus (Graphic Nonfiction)
Respected anthologist Leonard S. Marcus turns his literary microscope to the world of comics, which has lately morphed and matured at a furious pace. Powerful influences from manga to the movies to underground comix have influenced the 13 artists and writers interviewed in these pages to create their own word-and-picture narratives. Here are their moving, funny, inspirational stories: true tales from the crucible of creative struggles that led each to become a master of one of today’s most vibrant art forms. Reviewed by Michael Lee Harris.
 
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Children's Reviews
GHOSTS by Raina Telgemeier (Graphic Novel)
Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake --- and her own. Reviewed by Julia Luedtke.

THE MISADVENTURES OF MAX CRUMBLY 1: LOCKER HERO by Rachel Renée Russell (Graphic Novel)
Max Crumbly is about to face the scariest place he’s ever been: South Ridge Middle School. There’s a lot that’s great about his new school, but there’s also one big problem --- Doug, the school bully whose hobby is stuffing Max in his locker. If only Max could be like the hero in his favorite comics. Unfortunately, Max’s uncanny, almost superhuman ability to smell pizza from a block away won’t exactly save any lives or foil bad guys. But that doesn’t mean Max won’t do his best to be the hero his school needs! Reviewed by Brianna Robinson.

LUNCH WITCH #2: KNEE-DEEP IN NICENESS by Deb Lucke (Graphic Novel)
Grunhilda the Witch has a weakness, a tiny soft spot on her black and crusty heart. She continues to hide the nice feelings she has when she gets a letter from former Salem Elementary student Madison. But she can't keep up the ruse for long because her familiars are onto her… and so are her ancestors! The familiars search her hovel and find her collection of letters from Madison. Mr. Williams has a solution, but it involves making a meanness potion from the book that Is-Not-To-Be-Used-By-Anyone-Other-Than Witches. But anything that can go wrong does when he accidentally mixes up a positivity potion instead --- and it starts to affect everyone in town! Reviewed by Matthew Burbridge.

LUCY & ANDY NEANDERTHAL by Jeffrey Brown (Graphic Novel)
Lucy and Andy are a sister and brother who get into trouble much like any sister and brother. The only difference? Lucy and Andy live in the Stone Age! Discover their laugh-out-loud adventures as the Paleo pair take on a wandering baby sibling, bossy teens, cave paintings and a mammoth hunt. But what will happen when they encounter a group of humans? Reviewed by Julia Luedtke.

THE NAMELESS CITY by Faith Erin Hicks, color by Jordie Bellaire (Graphic Novel)
Every nation that invades the City gives it a new name. But before long, new invaders arrive and the City changes hands once again. The natives don't let themselves get caught up in the unending wars. To them, their home is the Nameless City, and those who try to name it are forever outsiders. Kaidu is one such outsider. He's a Dao born and bred --- a member of the latest occupying nation. Rat is a native of the Nameless City. At first, she hates Kai for everything he stands for, but his love of his new home may be the one thing that can bring these two unlikely friends together. Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

APOLLO: The Brilliant One by George O'Connor (Graphic Novel)
Mighty Apollo is known by all as the god of the sun, but there's more to this Olympian than a bright smile and a shining chariot. In the latest volume of Olympians, New York Times bestselling author George O'Connor continues to turn his extensive knowledge of the original Greek myths into rip-roaring graphic novel storytelling. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

COMPASS SOUTH written by Hope Larson, illustrated by Rebecca Mock (Graphic Novel)
It's 1860 in New York City. When 12-year-old twins Alexander and Cleopatra's father disappears, they join the Black Hook Gang and are caught by the police pulling off a heist. They agree to reveal the identity of the gang in exchange for tickets to New Orleans. But once there, Alex is shanghaied to work on a ship that is heading for San Francisco via Cape Horn. Cleo stows away on a steamer to New Granada where she hopes to catch a train to San Francisco to find her brother. Neither Alexander nor Cleo realizes the real danger they are in --- they are being followed by pirates who think they hold the key to treasure. Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

KID BEOWULF: THE BLOOD-BOUND OATH by Alexis E. Fajardo (Graphic Novel)
Inspired by the epic poem "Beowulf," this fun new series follows the adventures of 12-year-old twin brothers Beowulf and Grendel as they travel to distant lands and meet fellow epic heroes. In book one of the series, our heroes' destiny is tied to the past, when a prince named Hrothgar begins a quest for power --- one that leads him to a fiery dragon, an enchanted sword and an oath sworn in blood. But when Hrothgar breaks his oath he breaks his kingdom, and the only thing that will save it is a family he’s forgotten and heroes not yet born. Reviewed by Michael Lee Harris.

BERA THE ONE-HEADED TROLL by Eric Orchard (Graphic Novel)
Bera doesn't ask for much in life. She's a solitary, humble troll, tending her island pumpkin patch in cheerful isolation. She isn't looking for any trouble. But when trouble comes to find her, it comes in spades. A human baby has arrived in the realm of the trolls and nobody knows where it came from, but Bera seems to be the only person who doesn't want it dead. There's nothing to it but to return the adorable little thing to its parents. Like it or not, Bera has gone and found herself a quest. Reviewed by Julia Luedtke.

SECONDHAND HEROES: BROTHERS UNITE by Justin LaRocca Hansen (Graphic Novel)
Tuck and Hudson are just two average suburban brothers --- until their mother buys them a scarf and an umbrella at a yard sale. Quickly, the brothers realize that these ordinary-looking objects are full of magic, and that, with the help of their squirrel sidekick, they can use that magic to fight evil. As the boys move from fighting their neighborhood nemesis to facing bigger foes, they become Stretch and Brella, the unstoppable brother superhero duo. Soon, Stretch and Brella find themselves in another realm, where they take on enormous dragons and an evil knight. Reviewed by Julia Luedtke.
 
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