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?
This is a tardily posted Sunday morning comic because this particular Sunday has been extremely long and far from amazing (it’s only 2:00 my time!). The rain from last night came into my house and so I have been cleaning that up. The fans are set up and so I stopped to enjoy a long brunch. Happily, the bacon and the books have turned my day around!
These two comics are both fantastic and have rocketed to the top of my must-be-owned Graphic Novels. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang is a gorgeously illustrated story of the Prince who employs the dressmaker to sew outrageous frocks for him to wear. It is a wonderful story of embracing your own uniqueness.
Brazen or Rebel Ladies who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu is a collection of stories about women who broke the mold. Traveling around the world and through centuries of history this book covers women like Nellie Bly, Nazid al-Abid, and the Shaggs. I knew several of the featured women but so many I had not heard of and this book has really inspired me to follow up and learn more about these strong wonderful women.
Just look at these pages!
All in all, this Sunday Comics was wonderfully inspiring. From the Prince who grew to accept himself to the Brazen women themselves these two Graphic Novels really lifted me up, dusted me off and set me back into Sunday with a much more positive mindset. I highly recommend both of these books!
Tell me, please!
Have you read either of these books?
Do you enjoy Graphic Novels?
This week and the next one promises to be extra busy but I look forward all week to my Sunday Morning Comics and a whole pot of coffee to give either up. Sadly, this week I only managed to read two but at least they were both fabulous.
The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag I picked up for the cover. That’s right, I judged the book on its cover. I feel that this is permissible when you are giving a book the benefit of the doubt rather than using the cover to rejecting a whole story. The Witch Boy did not disappoint. It is the story of a community of magical families. The males are all shape shifters and the women are all witches. Aster is thrilled by the idea of spells and become a witch. However, Aster is a boy and so this kind of major is forbidden to him. I appreciated the fact that this was a boy wanted to perform a “traditional female” role and how his people dealt with this conundrum.
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani is an extension of my enjoyment of When Dimple met Rishi and my desire to learn more about Indian culture. This story features Priyanka who lives with her Mom in America. She is dealing with a couple of things changing in her life like a typical teenager – rather poorly. But, then she finds a Pashmina that, when she puts it on, allows her to see India in all its glory and suddenly travel to India and experience everything she feels her Mother gave up. But, maybe her Mother knows some things that she doesn’t…
I vastly enjoyed both of these graphic novels. However, as I am new to the medium I keep making what I am coming to find is a beginners mistake – I read them too quickly. To really enjoy both of these books (and so many graphic novels) you have to absorb the message the art is giving you as well as the words. And, both of these wonderful stories deserve me taking the time to enjoy them properly. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to make another pot of coffee and read them both again.
Tell me, please!
Do you enjoy graphic novels or comic books? If you have any recommendations, feel free to leave them below or link to your own site!
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!
I loved the Sunday morning comics in the newspaper. But, all of my favorites have slowly but surely disappeared. Still, I miss sitting on Sunday mornings absorbed in the art and story of a nice comic.
I realize I could get an app on my phone and read comics from all over the world but it is just not the same. So, I have decided to start a Sunday Morning Comics tradition with graphic novels. I’ll let you know what I enjoyed and if you are looking to get into graphic novels you can join me. If you have any recommendations or you want to link up, please do!
I had Victoria Jamieson’s graphic novels on my to be read list for a while now. Her Roller Girl garnered her a Newberry Honor and it was well deserved. The main character, Astrid’s, journey to self-discovery has to be done, for the first time, without the aid of her best friend. And, in finding out more about herself she learns how to be a better friend.
This theme was also present in All’s Faire in Middle School also by Victoria Jamieson but I just loved this story and the characters so much that I had to read it twice. Imogene has been homeschooled her whole life until middle school. Her family works at the Renaissance Faire and she aspires to be a squire to her Dad, the knight. But, “Its not easy being brave and honorable knight in the complicated world of middle school.” I appreciated this message of how difficult being kind is in middle school through the eyes of Imogene far more than anything I found in Wonder.
When I ran out of Victoria Jamieson I turned to a book recommended to me by an eight year old, Dream Jumper by Greg Grunberg & Lucas Turnbloom. This was a sweet story and I am looking forward to the other stories. Since this was the first book there was a lot of back story and set up but I liked the main character and I am extremely curious so many story threads left untied.
So there we have it. The new Sunday Morning Comic review! Next week, I’ll try to have it published actually in the morning!
Tell me, please!
Are you interested in Graphic Novels?