Graphic Novels & a Graphic Memoir for Teens and New Adults
Graphic novels and other graphic literature rock. According to Diamond Bookshelf , readers and viewers can gain some great rewards from graphic books. Some of these books explore complex social issues, historical and current events, folklore and mythology, legends, cultural diversity, and popular culture. As far as language skills go, the artwork in graphic books helps readers to understand the written text by searching the illustrations for clues to details in the text. Graphic books are particularly helpful for kids and teens who are struggling readers because their confidence and reading skills are supported with attractive visual clues and visual storylines. And, guess what? Graphic books are fun to read.
My list contains some recent award-winning graphic books as well as favorite ones among teen readers.
March: Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell~ A fast-paced graphic memoir with lush, detailed artwork tell the story of Congressman John Lewis’s journey from his early years as a poor sharecropper’s son to his role as the youngest leader of the Civil Rights Movement, marching side-by-side with Martin Luther King. Lunch-counter sit-ins in 1959 and 1960, the Civil Rights Movement’s Bloody Sunday in 1965, police crackdowns, the hatred of angry mobs—all this turmoil and strife never once kept Lewis and other nonviolent activists from abandoning their struggle to undermine segregation and fight for justice and equality. Ask: How did civil rights activists maintain the ideal of nonviolent protest when they were confronted with extreme violence at every step in their struggle? Ages 12 & up.
Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Page, illustrated by Stephen Byrne~ Princess Mera, heir to the throne of Xebel, a colony ruled by under-the-sea Atlantis, is determined to free her people from persecution inflicted by the oppressive Atlantis regime. Mera’s mission to assassinate the long-lost prince and heir to the kingdom of Atlantis gets diverted when she and the prince fall in love. Now she must choose to either allow her love to flourish or to kill the man she loves in order to save the citizens she hopes to protect. Ask: What choice does she make? Why is it believable? Or Why isn’t it? Ages 13 & up.
Monstress Volume 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda~ The war has turned 17-year-old Maika Halfwolf into a vengeful rebel. When she allows herself to be sold as a slave in order to infiltrate the community of powerful human witch-nuns, she frees the enslaved animal-hybrids—the Arcanics—with whom she identifies as kin and uses newly-discovered powers to escape her would-be captors. Pursued by a band of ruthless witch-nuns, humans, and her own people, she’ll be able to survive only if she can discover the cause of her terrible strength. Takeda’s artwork intensifies the magic and fear that sustain a complex and violent coming-of-age tale. Ask: Violence can be used as a gimmick just to sell a story, or it can be a phenomenon that contributes to a story’s themes. What do you think about Liu’s use of violence in Monstress? Gimmick or valuable story feature? Ages 15 & up.
Maika Halfwolk’s story continues through seventeen compelling volumes.
Neil Gaiman’s Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Shane Oakley~ Herein, enter a sinister, unsettling, darkly comical graphic novel with surreal images that illuminate mystery and suspense. An author sets out to write stories that will feature frail damsels, the undead, and mysterious happenings. His writing plan keeps getting sidetracked by an evil butler, pesky talking ravens, and death duels. Will he survive? Ask: This novel has been described as “gothic.” Which specific features puts it in a gothic category? A good description of gothic stories can be found at Wikipedia: https://bit.ly/2BwloXR. Ages 12 & up.
Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon~ Don’t be distracted by the title. This is no ordinary party and these are no ordinary girls. When Vic and Enn, two teenage boys, happen upon a trendy party, they soon discover that there’s something very strange—very unreal—about the party and the girls they start talking to. The ink-and-watercolor artwork is as fluid and eerie as the odd world these two teens have walked into. Ask: Why does sadness filter through each scene? Ages 12 & up.
Spill Zone by Scott Westerfield, illustrated by Alex Puvilland~ Addison shouldn’t be sneaking into the Sill Zone at night to take pictures of the surreal place she’ll sell to collectors. The Spill Zone came into being when a mysterious event killed Addison’s parents, disabled her sister, and turned the city into a weird place. Now, airborne zombies regularly fly over the area and objects are known to shift shapes and flatten out without notice or reason. Addison’s nightly excursions into the forbidden Spill Zone become even more treacherous, if not deadly when she attempts to fulfill an extraordinary offer by a wealthy, eccentric art collector. Puvilland captures the haunting surreality of the territory with earthly pastels and a neon palette. Ask: Why does Addison persist on being drawn into the Spill Zone even though she senses that she could very well lose her life in that ghostly place? Ages 15 & up.
The suspense continues in Spill Zone Book 2: The Broken Vow where Addison meets up with a North Korean young man who’s the lone survivor of a Spill Zone encounter. Ages 15 & up.