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STEPPING STONES, from city to farm life – graphic novel by Lucy Knisley (book review)

book cover of Stepping Stones, by Lucy Knisley. Published by RH Graphic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

From bustling city to quiet farm,
from only child to a trio of girls,
chores, chickens, snakes? (please, no snakes!)

Jen’s mom and her boyfriend are the ones who dreamed of living on a farm and selling their produce at the summer market, not Jen who would rather spend summer with Dad (who’s too busy in the city to talk on the phone).

The pre-teen gets flustered trying to make change at their market stand, is annoyed with chicken-keeping chores (twice. every. day), enjoys time alone in the hayloft to sketch, read comics, and play with the barn kitties.

Then Walter’s daughters come to Peapod Farm for the summer – younger Reese is okay, but same-age Andy is a smartypants, pointing out Jen’s problems with math and changing things at their market stand.

Can Mom and Walter make Peapod Farm a success?
How can Jen’s sketching talent compete with Andy’s intelligence and Reese’s utter cuteness?
Will the nearly-sisters ever get along?

Jen’s summer on the farm begins getting better, one step at a time, in this graphic novel sprouting from Knisley’s own experiences growing up. Find this first book in the Peapod Farm series at your local public library or indie bookstore.

What “oh no!” experience turned into “okay” for you?
**kmm

Book info: Stepping Stones (Peapod Farm, book 1) / Lucy Knisley; colored by Whitney Cogar. RH Graphic, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

V for VALIANT HIGH, superhero teens & secrets, by Daniel Kibblesmith & Derek Charm (graphic novel book review)

book cover of Valiant High, graphic novel by Daniel Kibblesmith & Derek Charm. Published by Valiant Entertainment | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Usual high school cliques,
usual high school worries,
very unusual high school students…

Welcome to Valiant High,”where extraordinary students become extraordinary people” – that’s right, an entire campus filled with superpowered teens who aren’t allowed to use their powers during school (yeah…sure).

When Principal Harada founded this school, he made sure that power-blocking badges were mandatory and that faculty members like scary Coach Bloodshot had superpowers too.

Unlucky for Amanda that her ability to talk to machines won’t work in driver ed – is this the only test she can’t pass?

Lucky for Aric that he found his place on the football field – who could challenge his destiny as Homecoming King?

As for Peter, he’s not so sure that he wants the new guy to transform him from forgotten to unforgettable as a social experiment to challenge Aric.

The creepy janitor they call Shadowman, eternal sophomore Gilad (maybe immortal?), bloodball in PE (dodgeball with no rules and all their superpowers activated), flying Faith (fat and phenomenal) – what other secrets does Valiant High hold?

Time to meet Livewire, X-O Manowar, Zephyr, Quantum and Woody, and others before their super-careers (for good or evil) in the Valiant Universe!

What superpower would you want to have in high school?
**kmm

Book info: Valiant High (Valiant High, issues 1-4) / Daniel Kibblesmith (writer), Derek Charm (artist), David Baron (colorist), Simon Bowland (letterer). Valiant Entertainment, 2019. [author site] [artist Twitter] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

O is THE ORACLE CODE graphic novel mystery, by Marieke Nijkamp & Manuel Preitano (book review)

book cover of The Oracle Code: a Graphic Novel, by Marieke Nijkamp & Manuel Preitano. Published by DC Graphic Novels for Young Adults | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Brilliant hacker,
devoted friend,
her life shattered by one shot.

A bullet meant for someone else puts Babs in the Arkham Center for Independence, where the Gotham City teen will learn everything about being a wheelchair users – or so says the Director.

She’d rather be in her own Gotham City bedroom, wondering what case her police commissioner father is on now, gaming with Ben to earn her own hacker name.

This mansion was modernized for ACI and its residents of differing physical abilities, but old secrets and shadows linger in its halls and walls – secrets that Babs and new friend Jena will puzzle out.

Where did Jena’s brother Michael go?
Why does the Director insist he was never at ACI?
Can Babs hack the Center’s computers to get the truth?

When Jena is released from ACI but doesn’t say goodbye to anyone, Babs knows she’s been “disappeared” like other kids… now to discover where Jena really is and rescue her!

When life puts limits on you, what’s next?
**kmm

Book info: The Oracle Code: a Graphic Novel / Marieke Nijkamp (author), Manuel Preitano (illustrator, colorist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer). DC Graphic Novels for Young Adults, 2020. [author site] [illustrator Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Will QUEEN OF THE SEA watch over them all? #GraphicNovel by Dylan Meconis (book review)

book cover of Queen of the Sea, by Dylan Meconis, Published by Walker Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Taken to a remote island as a baby, Margaret lives with the exiled nuns whose life-work is praying for travelers on the treacherous seas.

When Albion’s king dies years later, one of his daughters reigns and one is sent to the island convent as prisoner for life.

Margaret is the only witness to a shipwreck after royal Eleanor’s arrival on the island and finds a survivor in the sea cave – someone who wants to rescue the would-be-queen!

Secrets thread through this full-color graphic novel based on the youth of Elizabeth I. Check out sample pages here free, courtesy of the publisher.

I read and wrote about Queen of the Sea some months ago, but didn’t publish the post till now.

Happy to learn that others love it as much as I do – shortlisted for the 2020 Pacific Northwest Book Awards and appearing on several Best Graphic Novels of 2019 lists!!

Secrets and not-so-secrets – what’s your favorite recent graphic novel?
**kmm

Book info: Queen of the Sea / story & art by Dylan Meconis. Walker Books US (Candlewick), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

SEA SIRENS in epic underwater battle! by Amy Chu & Janet K. Lee (book review)

book cover of Sea Sirens, by Amy Chu, art by Janet K. Lee. Published by Viking | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Surf’s up, so paddle out now.
Great wave – wipe out!
Uh-oh…where are we?

Usually Vietnamese-American middle grader Trot and her talking cat Cap’n Bill just bob to the surface when surfing, but this time they’re flung into deeper California waters – right into a battle between sea serpents and sirens!

Bill’s claws end the fight quickly, and they return to the sirens’ city for a celebration.

But how can Trot & Bill breathe underwater?

Why did the serpents leave their home territory?

Can Trot & Cap’n Bill return to land where Mom and Grandpa must be worrying?

This graphic novel delight is based on L. Frank Baum’s Sea Fairies and is the first volume in the Trot & Cap’n Bill Adventure series. Watch for Sky Island in mid-2020!

Which legendary creatures from your grandparents’ bedtime stories would you like to encounter?
**kmm

Book info: Sea Sirens: a Trot & Cap’n Bill Adventure / Amy Chu; art by Janet K. Lee; lettering by Jimmy Gownley. Viking, 2019. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Making friends or Papa’s best cakes – PIE IN THE SKY dreams? by Remy Lai (book review)

book cover of Pie in the Sky, by Remy Lai. Published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Everything is different,
no one understands –
moving to a new country is so hard!

Jingwen feels like like an alien when Mom moves him and little brother to Australia, especially when Yanghao picks up English so much faster than he can. Or maybe a ghost, since his classmates hardly include him in anything because he’s so quiet.

Only remembering Papa’s special cakes makes him happy (and sad), so he decides to bake each one, just as Papa taught him back in the family bakery after all the plain, inexpensive ones were done.

Why did Mama decide to emigrate, even after Papa died?
Why can’t Jingwen understand English better? Why?
Will he be held back at school to be in little brother’s class next year!?

Illustrated middle grade novel with so much heart! (and fantastically yummy descriptions of Papa’s cakes)

How can we understand others when words don’t connect us?
**kmm

Book info: Pie in the Sky, by Remy Lai. Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

I = THE ILIAD, illustrated! by Gareth Hinds (graphic novel book review)

book cover of The Iliad; a Graphic Novel Adaptation, by Gareth Hinds. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

After The Odyssey
comes the war against Troy,
and the gods have chosen sides!

As with his adaptation of The Odyssey, Hinds quotes the important speeches that drive the story forward and transmutes the voluminous descriptive text into his illustrations.

Keeping track of so many names and affiliations in the classic Greek tale is so much easier with Hinds’ distinct armor and headgear, color-coding, and layouts.

The ugly business of war in colorful garb…

Who was right in the Trojan War?
**kmm

Book info: The Iliad: A Graphic Novel Adaptation / Gareth Hinds. Candlewick Press, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Mutant space-cat? Oh, Sanity & Tallulah, what have you done?! by Molly Brooks (book review)

book cover of Sanity & Tallulah, by Molly Brooks. Published by Disney/Hyperion | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A pet would be nice,
especially a soft one that purrs…
even if it does have three heads!

Life aboard an old space station alternates between boring and emergency, even for its kids. (Please say that school won’t be same old routine in the future!)

With something loose in the maintenance tunnels disrupting power and other essential services, our genius middle-schoolers are on the search team, trying to locate Princess Sparkle before anyone else finds their three-headed kitten – or anything else goes wrong!

What’s your favorite cute/oops pet story?
**kmm

Book info: Sanity & Tallulah / written & illustrated by Molly Brooks. Disney/Hyperion, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: When her lab-engineered (cute, but very illegal) pet escapes, preteen genius Sanity and best friend Tallulah must find the three-headed kitten before it causes any more critical outages in the space station!

Sanity used only outdated (very unstable) tech and her own energy allowance to create Princess Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds, but the Wilnick’s lab director (Tallulah’s mom) still confiscates the cute carnivore. Three heads are smarter than one – Princess quickly gets out of confinement and into the station’s maintenance tunnels.

Sudden power disruptions all over Wilnick! Something has been chewing on the coolant lines.

Weird noises on the supply shuttle! Tallulah’s dad and little brother can track that down.

Power outage locks their class in the chemistry lab! Sanity can find a way to get them out safely.

Everyone’s on alert so they can eliminate the “huge beast” threatening this old space station’s life support systems – Sanity and Tallulah must find the kitten first in this futuristic graphic novel!

I Am Alfonso Jones, student shot by police. By Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings (book review)

book cover of I Am Alfonso Jones, by Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings. Published by Tu Books. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Choked, shot, beaten,
arrested, imprisoned on minor charges,
how many black men are gone now?

This graphic novel traces the shortened life of son, friend, musician, bicycle messenger, history scholar Alfonso and the stories of other African Americans killed by police brutality.

Robinson and Jennings’ black and white illustrations expand the #blacklivesmatter narrative written by Tony Medina, whose poems are recited at the Poetry Protest that Alfonso can see and hear as his ghost drifts from the train to his neighborhood and back…

Check out Medina’s article describing how he created this non-stereotypical Puerto Rican Black teen who loves his community’s history so deeply – why should a such a talented young man be dead?

Where is justice? How can everyday people stop the violence?
**kmm

Book info: I Am Alfonso Jones / Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings. Tu Books, 2017. [author site] [artist Robinson tumblr] [artist Jennings interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Buying his first suit shouldn’t get him shot, shouldn’t keep him from seeing Dad finally home from prison with his name cleared, shouldn’t stop him from trying out for ‘Hip-Hop Hamlet’ at his arts high school in NYC, shouldn’t prevent him from telling bestie Danetta how he really feels about her…

On a subway train filled with ghosts of other African Americans wrongly killed, Alfonso learns more than his history studies revealed – about injustice, unfair treatment, deliberate abuse and prejudice – but dead is dead…

The Black-Puerto Rican young man’s family, friends, and community rally for justice and the prosecution of the police officer who shot Alfonso dead in this too-real #blacklivesmatter graphic novel.

Syria, Turkey, Iraq – refugees & Rolling Blackouts: graphic novel by Sarah Glidden (book review)

book cover of Rolling Blackouts, by Sarah Glidden. Published by Drawn & Quarterly | recommended on BooksYALove.com

War hurts the innocents the most,
Refugees fleeing or staying in bombed-out homes,
True now as it was in 2016…

So much of what the Seattle Globalist journalists and ’embedded artist’ Sarah Glidden experienced as they traveled in this strife-filled area of the Middle East is repeating in the news today.

Look for this nonfiction graphic novel at your local library or independent bookstore to see what happened and is still happening in Syria and neighboring Turkey and Iraq.

Where can you go when home is no longer safe… or even there?
**kmm

Book info: Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq / Sarah Glidden. Drawn & Quarterly, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As part of an independent US journalism team examining conflict in the Middle East, cartoonist Sarah Glidden shows actions and interactions resulting when people in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq are asked “Who are you?” including the young veteran of the Iraq War accompanying them as a civilian.

The Seattle Globalist team has to leave for Turkey without visas for Syria (the Syrian ambassador in DC said yes to reporting on youth culture, but no to covering drought and refugees), but they’re looking forward to interviewing many different people on their two-month journey in 2010.

“Who are you?” they ask Iraqi refugees in Syria, their Kurdish driver in Iraq who won’t go to the Arab cities, an Iranian blogger, an American couple helping students get into college, a man deported from the US, their veteran friend who returned to Iraq for perspective.

This visual chronicle of their encounters and challenges brings glimpses of understanding about the continuing conflicts resulting from modern national boundaries intersecting with long-established cultural groups’ traditional territories.