Post-It Reviews: Six quick reviews of recent graphic novels
Who doesn’t need more graphic novels in their lives?! Here are six quick reviews of some recent graphic novels I’ve enjoyed. I don’t usually include books I checked out of the public library in my reviews (mostly because I am so inundated by books that arrive at my house for possible review) but wanted to make sure I drew your attention to a few standout titles I’d missed earlier in the year.
All descriptions from the publishers. Scrawl on post-it notes transcribed at the end of the book info.
Brooms by Jasmine Walls, Teo DuVall (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781646142675 Publisher: Levine Querido Publication date: 10/10/2023, Ages 12-18)
It’s 1930s Mississippi. Magic is permitted only in certain circumstances, and by certain people. Unsanctioned broom racing is banned. But for those who need the money, or the thrills…it’s there to be found.
Meet Billie Mae, captain of the Night Storms racing team, and Loretta, her best friend and second-in-command. They’re determined to make enough money to move out west to a state that allows Black folks to legally use magic and take part in national races.
Cheng-Kwan – doing her best to handle the delicate and dangerous double act of being the perfect “son” to her parents, and being true to herself while racing.
Mattie and Emma — Choctaw and Black — the youngest of the group and trying to dodge government officials who want to send them and their newly-surfaced powers away to boarding school.
And Luella, in love with Billie Mae. Her powers were sealed away years ago after she fought back against the government. She’ll do anything to prevent the same fate for her cousins.
Brooms is a queer, witchy Fast and the Furious that shines light on history not often told – it’s everything you’d ever want to read in a graphic novel.
(POST-IT SAYS: Really interesting concept with a great cast of diverse characters. Gorgeous art. A lot is packed into this relatively short story, but I loved getting to see where everyone ended up.)
Saving Sunshine by Saadia Faruqi, Shazleen Khan (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781250793805 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 09/05/2023, Ages 8-12)
From Saadia Faruqi and Shazleen Khan comes a relatable, funny, and heart-wrenchingly honest graphic novel about Muslim American siblings who must learn how to stop fighting and support each other in a world that is often unkind.
It’s hard enough being a kid without being teased for a funny sounding name or wearing a hijab.
It’s even harder when you’re constantly fighting your sibling—and Zara and Zeeshan really can’t stand each other. During a family trip to Florida, when the bickering, shoving, and insults reach new heights of chaos, their parents sentence them to the worst possible fate— each other’s company! But when the twins find an ailing turtle, it presents a rare opportunity for teamwork—if the two can put their differences aside at last.
(POST-IT SAYS: A really lovely look at sibling relationship, identity, racism and Islamophobia, activism, and working together. The beautiful watercolor art brings so much to the story. A great read.)
Family Style: Memories of an American from Vietnam by Thien Pham (ISBN-13: 9781250809711 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 06/20/2023, Ages 14-18)
A moving young adult graphic memoir about a Vietnamese immigrant boy’s search for belonging in America, perfect for fans of American Born Chinese and The Best We Could Do!
Thien’s first memory isn’t a sight or a sound. It’s the sweetness of watermelon and the saltiness of fish. It’s the taste of the foods he ate while adrift at sea as his family fled Vietnam.
After the Pham family arrives at a refugee camp in Thailand, they struggle to survive. Things don’t get much easier once they resettle in California. And through each chapter of their lives, food takes on a new meaning. Strawberries come to signify struggle as Thien’s mom and dad look for work. Potato chips are an indulgence that bring Thien so much joy that they become a necessity.
Behind every cut of steak and inside every croissant lies a story. And for Thien Pham, that story is about a search— for belonging, for happiness, for the American dream.
(POST-IT SAYS: A stunningly moving book about refugees, food, family, and the American dream. I cried a few times. Really powerful message of perseverance and hope in the hardest and most uncertain times.)
Curlfriends: New in Town by Sharee Miller (ISBN-13: 9780316591478 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 10/10/2023, Ages 8-12)
New Kid meets The Baby-sitters Club in this graphic novel series opener about the Curlfriends, four inseparable Black girls who show us the meaning of true friendship—and being your true self.
Charlie has a foolproof plan for the first day at her new middle school. Even though she’s used to starting over as the new kid—thanks to her military family’s constant moving—making friends has never been easy for her. But this time, her first impression needs to last, since this is where her family plans to settle for good.
So she’s hiding any interests that may seem “babyish,” updating her look, and doing her best to leave her shyness behind her…but is erasing the real Charlie the best way to make friends?
When not everything goes exactly to plan—like, AT ALL—Charlie is ready to give up on making new friendships. Then she meets the Curlfriends, a group of Black girls who couldn’t be more different from each other, and learns that maybe there is a place for Charlie to be her true self after all.
Sharee Miller’s graphic novel debut starts off an exciting contemporary series featuring four Black girls who each have a unique story, and each learn lessons about friendship, family, and being their true selves.
(POST-IT SAYS: This is going to a new favorite series for me! Great stuff about friendship, fitting in, and being yourself. Hand this to all the fans of the BSC graphic novels. Can’t wait for more books!)
Mabuhay!: A Graphic Novel by Zachary Sterling (ISBN-13: 9781338738643 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/17/2023, Ages 8-12)
From rising star Zachary Sterling comes a humorous and heartwarming middle-grade graphic novel that celebrates food, family, and folklore.
Can two kids save the world and work their family food truck?
First-generation Filipino siblings JJ and Althea struggle to belong at school. JJ wants to fit in with the crowd, while Althea wants to be accepted as she is. To make matters worse, they have to help their parents run the family food truck by dressing up as a dancing pig and passing out samples. Ugh! And their mom is always pointing out lessons from Filipino folklore — annoying tales they’ve heard again and again. But when witches, ogres, and other creatures from those same stories threaten their family, JJ and Althea realize that the folklore may be more real that they’d suspected. Can they embrace who they really are and save their family?
(POST-IT SAYS: Folklore figures come to life in this magical look at food, family, and fitting in. Fast-paced, funny, and full of great vibrant art, this book is easy to recommend widely.)
Wildfire by Breena Bard (ISBN-13: 9780316277686 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 09/05/2023, Ages 8-14)
An inspiring and moving graphic novel, Wildfire follows climate change through the eyes of one middle-school girl, who’s eager to turn her anger into action.
Julianna loved her life in rural Oregon.
She loved taking care of her farm animals and being part of her local 4H club. But then the unthinkable happened…a wildfire destroyed her family’s home.
In the aftermath, her family relocated to Portland, Oregon, where Julianna hopes to put everything behind her. Believing the fire to be the result of kids playing with fireworks, she certainly isn’t interested when her parents and younger sister start getting involved in the growing climate change protests.
All she wants to do is move on, but that becomes near impossible when Carson, an old friend from her hometown who may have had a hand in starting the wildfire, is suddenly back in her life. Julianna can’t seem to catch a break, but when two new friends invite her to join their school’s conservation club, she learns that maybe she can turn her anger into something powerful.
Emotional and inspiring, Wildfire shows readers that healing from tragedy can take many forms and demonstrates what it means to take action in the face of climate change—and how that action can be different for each of us.
(POST-IT SAYS: A powerful and emotional look at climate change, loss, grief, eco anxiety, trauma, and anger. Julianna has been through a lot but makes great new friends as she grapples with what happened.)
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About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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