Good Morning! In the United States we are enjoying a long three-day weekend which means that Sunday morning is extra relaxing. I had the time to quietly enjoy both of these graphic novels which feature characters grappling with typical adolescent issues in additional to the impact of their culture background.
American Born Chinese by Gene Lien Yang showcases the stories of Jin Wang, the Monkey King, and Wei-Chen Sun. Jin Wang’s parents are Chinese immigrants and when Wei-Chen Sun arrives at school directly from Taiwan, Jin Wang wants nothing to do with him. Jin Wang wants to be an all-American boy and date the all-American girl. And the Monkey King has lived for thousands of years mastering skills to join the ranks of the immortal gods. But there is no place in heaven for a monkey!
The author and illustrator employs a fairly unique storytelling trick and does not use a traditional narrative structure. This allows three different perspectives regarding cultural assimilation and race-shaming to combine into one poignant message: “It’s easy to become anything you wish so long as you are willing to forfeit your soul.”
Meanwhile, in Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol, Vera is the odd-duck out in her social circle of all-white affluent kids. Vera immigrated from Russia with her Mom, little brother and sister when she was five. After a disastrous attempt to host a sleep over she turns to her Russian Orthodox Church to find friends. There she hears about a camp which is only for Russian Orthodox kids and convinces her Mom to send her to camp. She figures that it will be easy to make friends with kids with her own cultural identity and background.
Once at camp though things don’t go quite as planned. They speak in Russian as much as possible, sing Russian songs and while Vera’s accent is perfect, it seems she isn’t Russian enough. She is also placed in a tent with much older girls and finds out that there is a big difference between almost ten and fourteen.
I really enjoyed how both of these authors used their personal knowledge to highlight the additional struggle foreign culture can add to growing up in America. While I have always been fascinated by other cultures I am well aware that there are many obnoxious Americans insist on cultural homogenization which is a tragedy. I hope every child (really, adults as well) read these books and work to feel comfortable with their own culture, or, embrace the child whose culture is different from your own. The world is just a more interesting place with diversity and acceptance.
Tell me, please!
Have you come across any other culturally interesting Graphic Novels?
Happy Sunday Morning! This morning my cup of coffee and I were joined by some powerful ladies.
Nimona by Noella Stevenson was my first graphic novel. Immediately I was drawn into the whole twist on the superhero / villian story featuring Nimona, the shapeshifting young wanna-be-villan, trying to find her mentor. Before Nimona I struggled to embrace the graphic novel platform. I had trouble with the set up. I blame adulthood. I had grown unaccustomed to the art. But Nimona worked for me and it was like a magic key into the wonderful world of graphic novels. I received a copy for Christmas this year and I just had to give it a re-read. It is my go-to recommendation for anyone interested in getting into graphic novels and it was even better the second (or fourth) time.
Ms. Marvel Volume 1, No Normal by Wilson and Alphona came highly recommended and did not disappoint! After reading Awkward I have become hyper-aware of the fact that Superheroes are just big ‘ol awkward people flying through the world. Also, I am a sucker for origin stories. I think its because I just assume I’m in the middle of mine right now and when I get my superpowers this party is really going to start. I enjoyed a peek at Kamala Kahn’s regular pre-powers life with all her awkward feels but the highlight for me was the awesome depiction of Captain America. Kamala figuring our her powers and place in the world is a ride I cannot wait to continue.
El Deafo by Cece Bell is a elementary level grade book about Cece’s experiences with hearing loss at a young age. While some of the technology and terminology is clearly from Cece’s youth in the 70’s, her story is timeless. Kids struggle through so many things but having an accessible graphic novel that really illuminates this point is priceless. And, of course, I love how Cece turns her difference into her superpower.
Happy Sunday Comics!
Today’s FGR is the fabulous and award-winning Graphic Novel Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol. After reading the super creepy Into the Woods I had to give myself a couple of days before going back into the Graphic Novel genre. Somehow, the illustrations with these stories have a way of creeping me out.
Anya’s Ghost is more than a spooky tale. This Graphic Novel covers a myriad of other teen-related topics superbly. From being self-conscious about your body to discovering that maybe other people’s perfect lives are no-so ideal, this is a phenomenal book for teens.
Additionally, Anya has a ghost. For three-quarters of the book I thought the ghost was a literary device for her conscience. Then the ghost took a dramatic turn in behavior and I found myself flipping pages faster and faster with my heart racing. It is remarkable how the authors of Graphic Novels can build so much tension with their illustrations and a few choice words!
Anya’s Ghost is also set to become a new Supernatural comedy directed by Dan Mazer. Now, I have been guilty of thumbing my nose at Graphic Novels in the past (no more, I swear!). But, for a slender illustrated book to pack enough life lessons and interest to be made into a movie is impressive indeed. I can only hope the live telling of Anya is as good as the Graphic version.
Tell me, please!
Have you ever looked down on a subject or genre or anything only to later convert?
For day four of my adventures through Frighteningly Good Reads I tried a graphic novel. I have only recently been introduced to the wonder of graphic novels and finding a scary one that was also excellent was surprisingly easy.
Through the Woods by award winning comic-creator Emily Carroll is a book of five short horror stories. In addition to the art, which I found very creepy (I’d say that this as a good thing, after all it is a horror book), the stories are told in sort of the manner one would any scary tale. Just, imagine that you and your friends are sitting around a campfire. One leans into the glow to speak in a whisper, “There was a girl…and there was a man…” This is how I heard the stories in Through the Woods.
And the creep factor in these drawings is high but doesn’t pass my gross-out limit. The author was able to build anticipation and tension with her art and words and leave me baffled on one story, transfixing in horror on another and actually shuddering on a third. Each story stayed in my mind but if I were being honest, the fifth one really scared me the most. I mean, really scared me. I almost tossed the book across the room.
This book really puts the Frightening into my growing collection of Frightening Good Reads. If you want to try a truly scary graphic novel I highly recommend sitting down and taking a trip Through the Woods.
Tell me, please!
Do you enjoy graphic novels? What about scary short stories?