The last of my series reading selections from the 2015 Cybils finalists – here are the others:
- Cybils Teen Spec Fic Finalists
- Cybils Countdown – Easy Reader Finalists
- Cybils Countdown – Picture Book Finalists
- Cybils Countdown – MG Graphic Novel Finalists
I read four of the seven teen graphic novel finalists – I had already read the winner, Nimona, and very much enjoyed it. Here are the additional three that I read:
Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash. Candlewick, 2015.
This based-on-real life follows teen Maggie as she goes back to the old-fashioned Southern sleepaway camp that her mother and grandmother went to before her (even the one Jewish girl is blond and blue-eyed.) It’s not the first time Maggie’s been, but this year is a turning point for her: instead of joining the other girls in crushing on the few male staff members, she finds herself falling for one of the college-aged female counselors. The story of Maggie’s coming to terms with herself is told inside the camp setting that could be timeless except for the Maggie’s obsession with the Backstreet Boys. Despite and because of its particularity, it comes out as a universal story of first love and its repercussions. It’s done in beautiful, softly colored watercolor-and-ink illustrations.
Ms. Marvel vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. Marvel, 2014.
I’d been hearing about Ms. Marvel since it first came out in late 2014 – my love even made me read some individual issues he’d brought home from the comic book store – but somehow, I hadn’t gotten around to this whip-smart story of America’s first Muslim (Pakistani-American) superhero. It is totally smart, funny, and on-point with the challenges of growing up between cultures. The art is perfect – managing to be crisp and polished and completely expressive, whether Kamala is doing battle or making a face at something she’s discovered. I went right on to reading volumes 2 and 3. Sometimes books are hyped so much that it’s disappointing to read them, but not this time. There’s some high school romance here, but this is one I’d be happy giving to my fifth-grade son.
March Book 2 by John Lewis with Andrew Aydin. Art by Nate Powell. Top Shelf, 2015.
I’d read Book 1 last year – why did I put off reading Book 2 so long? Well, OK, there are neither dragons nor spaceships here, which might explain it. Senator John Lewis continues with the story of his personal involvement in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, now moving on to the Freedom Rides and the March on Washington. I know I paid attention in history in high school, but there is so much here that just didn’t make it to my text book. (I guess I’m not really surprised.) The story is riveting, though the violence is such that I’d give it to teens and up. Kudos, too, to Nate Powell for keeping the very large cast of characters recognizable and distinguishable, even with black-and-white art. I feel that textbook writers sometimes skimp on eras that they lived through themselves, whether it’s due to a lack of consensus on the period or feeling that it’s too recent to need writing about. Whatever the reason, this is a great choice for making sure that even readers born well after the Civil Rights movement feel connected to this important time and the brave but human people who made it happen.
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