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?
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.
His earbuds are filled with opera, His neighbors are druggies and the jobless, Just like any middle-school boy, right?
Bart does love his mum and is sure that someday she’ll be able to keep a job so they can move out of their slum apartment… not so sure about keeping away from the bullies at school.
What advice would you give Bart as he searches for his long-gone dad?
Book info: The Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson / Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Maybe 13-year-old Bart’s opera singing talent comes from the American father he’s never seen.
Who in his Norwegian town knew that John Jones was such a common name in the world?
Maybe his mom will finally keep a job so they can move out of the slum apartments.
Why is it so hard for her to stay sober?
Maybe learning to box will keep the bullies away or impress Ada.
What made her volunteer Bart to sing at the school show?
Maybe he’ll shake his stage fright… anything can happen, right?
Middle school years are different for each person, but this translated novel shows how common some things are.
Dara is a no-nonsense taskmaster as she tries to coach Otis into the Olympic Trials for swimming (now one-armed, she can’t swim out her own dreams).
But if Meg returns, how can he keep his focus? Or keep the reality of little brother Mason’s last day locked away safely?
Is what you can do the same as your identity?
Book info: Phantom Limbs / Paula Garner. Candlewick Press, hardcover 2016, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Two different tragedies have left Dara and Otis with missing parts, but as she pushes him through grueling swim practices this summer, another piece of his past returns and may shatter all their hopes.
Dara’s missing arm has become her aggressive swim coaching to put Otis in the Olympic Trials where she should have been.
Otis’s family has become fragile with just memory where little brother Mason should be.
Meg’s silence after she moved three years ago has become a void where Otis’s heart should be.
Dara just graduated from their Ohio high school, but can she move on?
Otis loved – loves – Meg, but does she still care for him?
Meg tried moving away, moving on, but will anywhere feel like home again?
As Otis tries to balance Dara’s demands (swim practice, phantom limb pains, more swim practice, maybe new girlfriend) and his expectations for Meg’s visit (her scent, her voice, her eyes, her not being on the phone with her jock boyfriend back in California), he struggles to stay out of the dark place that swallowed him when little Mason died.
My book talk:
In New York City at last, Piper works for a famous artist with a “new vision” but the Houston native also wants time for her own creative desires as she learns to navigate the city in a whirlwind season before starting art school.
Hired by Carlyle Campbell based on photos of her big senior project in Texas, now Piper must replicate that piece and several others for Fashion Week – fast!
Can she keep her own artistic focus while working to reflect what Carlyle wants the world to see?
The intense connection she felt online with her student mentor Silas seems erratic when they’re together in person – hmmm.
Her small salary from Carlyle doesn’t go far in the city – time to find another job, and find a place to paint, and go out with Silas and new friend Grace, and apply for financial aid so she can start next semester…
It’s Piper Perish in the big city as she leaps into the next chapter of her life – as long as she can find a way to stay here!
The author’s documentary film “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard” includes the restored children’s drawings sent to All Souls’ Church in D.C. as well as archival footage showing life in Hiroshima in the days and months after the bombing.
Book info: Running with Cosmos Flowers: the Children of Hiroshima / Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall. Pelican Publishing, 2014. [book website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Now her turn to evacuate in summer 1945, Hana-chan arrives at her aunt’s country village shortly before her mother departs with students going home… to Hiroshima.
Struggling to travel from the mountains into the city after the A-bomb strikes, Hana and her aunt are aghast at the devastation, yet try to help where they can.
Back at school in one of the few buildings remaining upright, 7 year old Hana and her young classmates worry about whether radiation sickness is contagious and how they will cope with oncoming winter weather.
Then packages arrive from America – with clothes and food and paper and pencils.
Can small gifts of paper and crayons begin to heal these broken lives?
And their thank-you drawings are sent to the USA, seen by thousands and remembered over the decades.
Based on the author’s experiences as a young girl born in Hiroshima just after World War II ended, hearing survivors’ stories and becoming part of a rebuilding nation. As usual in Japanese fiction, quotation marks aren’t used in the dialogue, but readers will soon be caught up in the story without need of this punctuation.
No longer victims,
many choices to be made,
young women leap, tiptoe, and march onward!
A cooking show that time-travels back to the days when food was real.
The procession of elders leads young women to the sea where their true names will be revealed.
As authors and artists in Australia and India worked together on stories (in words and/or images) to show the range of experiences that teen girls are facing and have endured and can overcome, a common thread of ‘connections’ emerged in the finished compilation.
What new connections will you make to move forward?
Book info: Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean: Stories of Imagination and Daring / edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar, and Anita Roy. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017 hardcover, 2018 paperback. [editor site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: In response to rapes and attacks on young women, writers and artists from India and Australia created this anthology of stories (several with art) reflecting the possibilities beyond powerlessness.
“Little Red Suit” in future Australia battles to reach Grandmother before the voice snarling unauthorized through her shield-suit radio does.
A young woman travels from India to “Arctic Light” on a ship to protest oil drilling and climate change, despite the loss of her mother, despite the threat of imprisonment.
Kavya wavers between remaining a low-society cleaner who removes magical problems (pixies in the toilet again…) or becoming standardized which would make “The Wednesday Room” with its removed zombies and poker-playing mermaids vanish forever.
Collaborators of different cultures and countries were asked to work together on this theme, resulting in graphic-novel short stories, single-act plays, tales of now and tales of lands imagined.
Book info: The Fold / An Na. Atheneum, 2008 hardcover, 2017 paperback. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: When her aunt offers to pay for plastic surgery, pain-averse Joyce must decide how far she’ll go to get her crush’s attention and win his heart.
Adding the eyelid “fold” is a routine procedure for Korean-American women, but everyone can see how Auntie Gomo is addicted to plastic surgery.
Not as smart or pretty as older sister Helen, not as funny as younger brother Andy, Joyce feels like a nobody as her junior year ends and adorable John Paul Kang signs her yearbook with the wrong name.
Work in their parents’ restaurant all summer while Helen does a prestigious internship at college? Not fair.
John Paul comes to the restaurant when her eyes are swollen from chili powder accident? Oh no!
Dr. Reiner says the eyelid surgery is her decision, but how can Joyce disappoint her aunt? Oh my…
Maybe it’ll all be worth it if John Paul notices her enough at church and school to remember her name. Her best friend Gina agrees, her new friend Sam isn’t so sure…
Luvander reluctantly joins forces with three other adventurers also heading for the fabled treasure hidden deep within the Dragon’s Maw caverns.
Hmm… why does she love roast meat and riddles so much?
Who’s the guy stalking them, with that Wanted Dead or Alive poster in hand?
Elves in battle, creatures of water, and beings of fire – time and again, Luvander is asked “Who are you?”
We join her story in volume 1 as the team journeys “Into the Dragon’s Maw,” then go further afield on land and sea with “Treasurehearts” (each volume collects 5 issues of the continuing comic).
Any adventurous blood singing in your veins?
Book info: Into the Dragon’s Maw (Scales & Scoundrels, vol.1), Treasurehearts (Scales & Scoundrels, vol. 2) / Sebastian Girner, art by Galaad, lettering by Jeff Powell. Image Comics, 2018. [author site] [artist Tumblr] [publisher site] Review copies and cover images courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Meet one who hunts treasure, another seeking a lost brother, a prince looking for adventure, and the bodyguard sworn to protect him on the quest in this graphic novel series set in a medieval world of magic and no little mayhem.
Luvander bows to no one during her ongoing treasure hunt, Dorma brings her dwarven guiding talents to the team, the prince wants to see beyond his kingdom while completing his adulthood challenge, and Koro must stand between him and excessive folly to get him home in one piece.
They traverse a land where dragons fiercely guard their treasure, misfortune takes many a peasant from their family, and bandits eagerly take hostage any well-to-do travelers crossing their territory.
Finding the legendary hidden treasure cave called The Dragon’s Maw is much easier than successfully avoiding its traps and perils – not even a bespelled dragon gives up one bit of its hoard without a fight!
Can Dorma find her brother who also sought to go “Into the Dragon’s Maw”?
What is the strange language Luvander speaks to statues down there?
If they escape with treasures, what curse might the team set loose on the world?
Surprises and secrets continue in volume 2 “Treasurehearts” as more of Luvander’s true self is revealed, the treasure hunters are hunted, and fire battles against the balance of power.
How can you add harmony to your life (piano optional)?
Book info: Blended / Sharon M. Draper. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Isabella loves her friends and playing piano, wishes her black father and white mother would get back together, and worries about the racial hatred emerging at her Ohio middle school.
At Daddy’s fancy house, the 11-year-old has an excellent piano and teacher (big recital coming up), a waterfall shower (better for her hard-to-control hair), and Dad’s nice lady friend and her cool son Darren (another ice cream fan).
At Mom’s plain house, Izzy has a portable keyboard (better for practicing at Waffle House when Mom is working late), green bedroom walls (she prefers lavender), and John Mark who makes Mom happy (and is a really great bowler).
Alternating weeks at her parents’ houses – doesn’t Isabella have any say in this?
Official forms ask if she is white, black, other – really??
Who put that horrible racist threat in her friend Imani’s locker?
Being her blended self is as hard as dealing with two blended families, so Izzy dives into her music and tries to fix the mistakes she makes there and in her life.