Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Graphic Novels That Read Like Memoirs

Blankets by Rob Thomas
"My all-time favorite graphic novel."

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
"The arc of this story is both powerful and brilliantly conceived."

The Color of Earth by Kim Tong-hwa
"The first part of a trilogy about a girl growing up with her single mother in Korea."

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
"A young girl's life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, during which she witnessed the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq."

Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White by Lila Weaver
"An arresting and moving personal story about childhood, race and identity in the American South"

Cuba: My Revolution by Inverna Lockpez
"When 17-year-old Sonia is caught up in an idealistic view of Fidel Castro’s revolution, she postpones her dream of becoming an artist, enrolls in medical school, and joins the militia."

The Accidental Genius of Weasel High
"A "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" for tweens... but with excellent character development"

My Mommy: is in America and she met Buffalo Bill
"5 year-old Jean's mother is away on a long trip, but he never feels comfortable asking his taciturn father exactly what happened to her."

The Plane Story
"Biographical tale of how a young artist discovered who his real mother was..."

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain (Caldecott Honor Book)
"An artist's childhood, growing up behind the Iron Curtain."

Marzi: A memoir
"A series of vignettes reveal the experience of a young girl coming-of-age behind the Iron Curtain in Poland."

We Are On Our Own: A Memoir
"True story of a girl and her mother's escape on foot from the Nazi invasion of Budapest"

The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir
"After growing up in awe of her amazing father, Laurie discovered that he had been living a life of deception for years."

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
"As a young girl come-of-age, she begins to see hints of her father's double-life."

Anya's Ghost
"When teenage girl who is embarassed about her Russian family roots falls down a well, she has a life-changing encounter."

Asterios Polyp
"My favorite part is how the artist visually illustrates the couple when they draw together and pull apart."

Why I Killed Peter
"Recounts Olivier Ka's real-life struggle to come to terms with his childhood encounter with a bohemian priest."

The Big Kahn: A Sequential Drama
"David Kahn was never Jewish, yet he lived for 40 years as a well-respected rabbi. On the day of his funeral, Roy Dobbs, his grifter brother, reveals himself and the truth to the surviving members of the Kahn family. Suddenly ostracized from their community, they are forced to come to terms with their father's lies."

 How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less
"When Sarah Glidden took a “Birthright Israel” tour, she thought she knew what she was getting herself into. But once she arrived in Israel, she found that things weren’t quite so simple."

Stitches: A Memoir
"In response to their son's illness, a mother postponed treatment due to cost, and his radiologist father subjected him to repeated X-rays, believing it would cure his problems."

Blood Song: A Silent Ballad
"Silent characters come to life in this evocative wordless story."

A Drunken Dream and Other Stories
"Four decades of modern shojo stories reveal universal struggles, including body image, sibling rivalry, parental estrangement, and loss."

Lips Touch: Three Times
"Three tales of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss that is no mere kiss, but an action with profound consequences for the kissers' souls."

Page by Paige
"A teenage artist moves to a new city, makes new friends and discovers how to come out of her shell in order to share her creative ideas with the world."

A Distant Neighborhood, Vol. 1
"A forty-something businessman returning to Tokyo from an intense business trip is transported back into his 14 year-old body and life. Will he change his past or be forever condemned to relive each painful moment, such as the fateful day his father disappeared without explanation? Will he ever see his wife and daughters again?"

"Aliera is a star at fencing, but at school no one notices her--until her new lab partner Avery begins flirting with her."

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
""Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish Girl""

Level Up
"How much do we owe our family of origin in terms of our future choices?"

Heart Transplant
"After his neglectful mother dies at the hands of her abusive boyfriend, Sean is adopted by Pop, a gruff Irishman who changes his life for the better."

Zahra's Paradise (Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens)
"A fictional story of the search for a young protestor who has vanished after the 2009 elections in Iran."

A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return (Single Titles)

Friday, February 22, 2013

In a world once surrounded by magic, the City of a Thousand Dolls is only safe place for unwanted girls. A place where they can escape their caste and change their fortunes. All except Nisha. A foundling who was too old upon entering the city to be eligible to join a house. But when girls suddenly start dying mysteriously, Nisha may be the only one who can uncover the truth.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

American Born Chinese by Gene Yang

This graphic novel maps out three individual plotlines:

A Monkey King sheds his humble roots and is revered as a god.

A child of Chinese Americans struggles to fit in at school.

A popular basketball player's life is interrupted by the arrival of his cousin.

At first, these stories seem unconnected - until they converge at the end in a stroke of brilliance.

Book Talk Ideas for Middle School

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white school. His cartoons demonstrate his struggles to fit into his new surroundings...

Boyfriend List: (15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart
Ruby Oliver's life is in crisis. She lost her best friends, her boyfriend and the respect of her peers in two weeks time. Can she turn things around?

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
Zoe longs for a piano, but her father buys her an organ instead. Her mother is constantly at work, her father is afraid to leave the house, and a boy from her school keeps following her home from school every day. So her life isn't perfect - or is it?

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Can Greg and his best friend Rowley survive the horrors of middle school? Can they face bullies, girls who act like aliens, and - worst of all - the 'Cheese?'

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
Alternating chapters tell the story from Juli and then Bryce's point of view. From the moment she first lays eyes on Bryce, Juli is hooked. But her efforts to get to know him all seem to backfire.

Gifted by Beth Evangelista
A trip to camp turns into a journey of discovery for this "gifted" young man.

Hidden Talents by David Lubar
Martin has a big mouth, and always manages to say just the thing to upset his father, teacher or principal - but could this be a gift?

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko
Kirsten's parents are barely speaking to each other, and her best friend has fallen under the spell of the school's queen bee. Walker is the only African American student at Kirsten's all-white private school. When Kirsten and Walker become friends and discover a secret, the results are life-changing.

The Isabel Factor by Gayle Friesen
A realistic story of friendship and coming of age.

Notes From A Liar and Her Dog by Gennifer Choldenko
It's hard to be the middle child, sandwiched between two perfect sisters. So, from time to time, Anotonia stretches the truth.

Rules by Cynthia Lord
Organized and artistically talented Catherine creates a series of rules to help her autistic younger brother.

Schooled by Gordon Korman
Capricorn Anderson is relocated from the hippie commune where he has spent all of his life and sent to public middle school.

Shug by Jenny Han
Between Mark, her best friend who seems increasingly more attractive and Jack, her arch-nemisis who keeps bugging her, 12-year-old Annemarie is feeling confused.

Stanford Wong Flunks Big-time by Lisa Yee
Stanford Wong is a talented basketball player. He doesn't want his friends to know that he failed English... or that he's being tutored by Millicent Min.

That Girl Lucy Moon by Amy Timberlake
In elementary school, everyone knew Lucy Moon, school activist. That was before she started middle school, her mother disappeared and her activist activities started to backfire...

Friday, October 12, 2007

31 Flavors of Authors for Teens

Throughout the month of October, teenager girls can chat with a different author every day! This project is co-sponsored by YALSA.

To learn more, please visit:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Up on my soapbox again

This is an issue that I did not realize how strongly I felt about it, until I was asked recently to fill out a survey on library services for teens...

In many ways, teenagers are still an "afterthought" at the library. We don't know how to deal with their behavior, or meet their developmental needs.

When we do invest in teenagers, it is in programs like "Gaming" which we think will prove how technologically savvy and cool we are, rather than in the programs that teens have actually requested.

And what have they requested? Well, I did a survey of teenagers at an inner-city branch, and my 20 respondents (mostly male) asked for:

- Job orientation skills, including how to write a resume and fill out online applications.
- How to apply for college, including choosing a college, financial aid and course schedules.
- Parenting programs for teen parents - and yes, both teen mothers and fathers were interested.
- Artistic pursuits, like how to pursue a career in film making or photography, how to cut a record or how to be a graphic designer.
- How to design your own website or blog, which could be the start of a career in business or journalism

With this in mind, here are some teen programs that I would like to see offered at the library:

1.) Who, What, Where, When, How: The Essentials of Online Journalism
2.) Show Me the Money: Career, college and tech school information, including Internet job sites
3.) Dress for Success: Resume writing, interview skills and cover letters
4.) Men of Power: Martin Luther King and other real-life heroes - what can we learn from their lives?

Other things which I think are more practical for teens that I come into contact with every day at the library are:

- Internet safety ("Honey, please don't tell that stranger you met online where you live.")
- Research skills
("Wikipedia might not be your best source. Here are some online databases with articles.")

We could invite experts to come in from the community and provide programs like:

- Car restoration and repair
- Digital photography
- GED prep

If we truly are committed to teenagers at our libraries, we need to focus our efforts on equipping teens with the information that they need, and the skills they need to access their information.

We should stop trying to be cool. They know we aren't cool; we are librarians. If they want cool, they will go somewhere else. They are here at the library because they want information.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Teen T-Shirt Decorating program

Monday, February 12, 2007

Three awesome authors from Australia

I have recently been very impressed by the creativity and insights of three Australian authors.

1.) In Barry Jonsberg's recent book Am I Right or Am I Right? its protagonist, Calma, refers to her mother as "The Fridge" because the two of them communicate primarily through notes left on the refrigerator door. Early on in the book, Calma warns the reader about “unreliable narrators,” and makes no promise to be completely objective herself. This book made me laugh in the same way as Susan Juby’s Alice, I Think.

2.) All three of Jacyln Moriarty's books are innovative in format. In her first book, Saving Celia, the narrator receives imaginary letters from different associations, commenting on her progress on running, romance and living up to the teenage prototype.

Her second book, Year of Secret Assignments, is shared through emails, diary entries and letters back and forth between the students of two rival schools. The Murder of Bindy MacKenzie, third in the series, juggles a variety of formats, diary entries, personal memos and emails, to name a few.

3.) Melina Marchetta’s second book, Saving Francesca, also caught my eye. The characterization is spot-on, the pop culture references are hilarious and the voice of the protagonist, despite her attempts to fade into the background, is undeniably strong.

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