SUMMER 2021: THE DEFINITIVE GRAPHIC NOVEL LIST FOR TEENS & YA (13+ YRS OLD)

By Maureen and Anna, 6 June 2021

Following on from our Definitive Graphic Novel List for Middle Graders (8-12 years old), we’ve come up with our definitive list of Graphic Novels for Teens and Young Adults (13+ years old). The list includes old favourites, but also recent releases, and some, but not all, have been reviewed on our blog. While we enjoy sci-fi and fantasy, a genre well-represented in the graphic novel/comic world, there are many non-fictional and biographical graphic novels that have captivated us. Many, out of historical interest, are about the Jewish experience during WW2.

Unlike the middle grade list, some of the graphic novels on this list cover mature or challenging topics and include the odd expletive (or two or three). Please check out online book reviews such as https://www.commonsensemedia.org/ or feel free to ask in the comment box below if you wish to know more about any particular titles.

To keep it concise, we’ve only included one graphic novel from each author/illustrator – he or she may have many others that you can also explore (for example, Tillie Walden’s Spinning is also excellent).

We hope you’ll discover some new graphic novels to try out this summer. Happy reading!

Maureen and Anna

SUMMER 2021: The Definitive Graphic Novel List for Middle Graders (8-12 yrs old)

By Maureen, Anna and Ben, 31 May 2021

Summer is just around the corner!

We’ve decided to put together some of our own definitive book lists ahead of the summer holidays with our personal recommendations for great stories that stay with us!

We’ll start with our Definitive Graphic Novel List for Middle Graders (8-12 years old). The list includes old favourites, but also recent releases, and some, but not all, have been reviewed on the blog.

To keep it concise, we’ve only included one graphic novel from each author/illustrator – he or she may have many others that you can also explore! (For example, Sara Varon has several amazing titles, so it was tough, but we’ve chosen Bake Sale to be her representative for our list). Our list for older readers will follow shortly.

We hope you’ll discover some new graphic novels to try out this summer. Happy reading!

Maureen, Anna & Ben

New Year Resolutions

January 2021

Call me old-fashioned, or a die-hard optimist, or a dreamer, but I believe in new year resolutions. The end of a year, the beginning of a new one, the stick-drawn line in the sand, the restart button, the brand new Hobonichi Techo, the newly inked pen, the endless possibilities, the hope, always, the hope.

So we begin 2021 with a resolve to write and share more regularly the book reviews of the more books that we will read. My own personal resolution, as I press ahead on my journey to become a writer, is to write and to publish, to finally earn that “writer” title for myself and to make stories that will stay with us, and with many others.

May 2021 herald new beginnings and brilliant hopes for all of you!

Anna, Ben & Maureen

Every day is April Fool’s Day…

April 2020

Every day dawns with more unsettling and unbelievable news about the pandemic that has crippled the entire global community. Yet, as we grapple with voluntary self-isolation and quarantines, lockdowns and movement restriction orders, hand sanitisers and face masks, Spring cheekily sneaks up on us, tantalizing us with its warm breezes, baby animals, chocolate eggs, tender green shoots and blushing cherry blossoms. The season of rebirth and renewal is here at last.

This month, we remember a few notable picture book reads from our archives which we believe will help us get through the challenging weeks ahead. But before we get down to business, let’s wash our hands! While germs may look adorable, like the little tykes in Do not lick this book* (it’s full of germs) , their effects can be devastating, so let’s spend a protective 20 seconds at the sink.

With Spring comes the emergence of gardeners, eager to break ground in their gardens for the year. Emily Hughes’ charming picture book, The Little Gardener, tells the tale of a very small and single-minded gardener with very big ambitions. Another delightful rhyming board book bursting with fruity cheer is Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s Each Peach Pear Plum , which I enjoyed reading to the kids as much as they loved listening to it when they were babies. But for the here and now, O’Hara Hale’s BE STILL, life  is a playful exploration of the natural world and its inhabitants, rather like a fresh spring breeze whispering to us to slow down and open our senses to our surroundings. Finally, the theme of reincarnation and rebirth is philosophically contemplated by a grandchild in Shinsuke Yoshitake’s whimsical What Happens Next? There is life after death, and we are reminded of this in April as Christians commemorate their most important festival, Easter, and as the Chinese pay their respects to their departed ancestors on Tomb Sweeping Day.

For the poets among us, the spirit of Spring is elegantly encapsulated in Mary Oliver’s poem about the season, reproduced below with the greatest respect and gratitude. In closing, may your Spring be a bountiful one, and may your many reads be good.

Maureen, Ben & Anna

Spring

Somewhere
a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
rising
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
coming
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her—
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.