In Cliff’s swashbuckling print debut, a tea-loving Turkish janissary must choose his future path after his quiet life is turned upside down by an encounter with a brash adventuress.
Selim’s modest career as a soldier in early-19th-century Constantinople comes to an ignominious end after the agha finds fault with his interrogation of their new English-speaking prisoner. Not only does Delilah Dirk escape soon after her interview with Selim, she also helps him avoid execution, leading everyone to assume they are in cahoots. Left with no other options, he flees with Dirk on her flying boat, but it doesn’t take long for Dirk to create more trouble. Eisner-nominated as a webcomic, the graphic novel is glorious in print. The rich, saturated colors and dashing linework pop off the page, and the author wisely lets his characters’ dynamic body language and expressive faces mostly speak for themselves during the action sequences. Dirk’s fearlessness and verve are both appealing and exhausting: Readers will sympathize with Selim’s quandary when he is reluctant to end a peaceful interlude in a friendly village and Dirk is eager to move on.
Fast-paced and unabashed fun, this romp will leave readers longing for additional installments.
(Graphic adventure. 14 & up)
After the untimely death of her parents, an artistic girl living with her aunt must face her fears.
Willhemena Huckstep—Will for short—is planning on spending a perfectly quiet summer working at her aunt’s antiques shop, making lamps and spending time with her friends. Two fateful events quickly steer her plans off course: a chance meeting with a group of teens who are putting together an eclectic carnival and a savage summer storm named Whitney that will plunge her town into a prolonged blackout in its wake. Offbeat Will is scared of the dark (her lamp-making skills came from her grandfather, who taught her how to make her first night light). In confronting the darkness, both literal and figurative, though, Will finds herself stronger and happier than she could have imagined. Peppered with pop-culture references from Doctor Who to The Hunger Games and supported by Gulledge’s stylish black-and-white illustrations, this sophomore offering shines as bright as the lamps Will surrounds herself with. Will is an intensely likable character, as are her funky group of friends. With its emphasis on a world wonderfully unplugged, maybe this will jar some readers’ memories about how excellent and exciting a life without Facebook and Twitter can be.
Quirky, clever and insightful; a must-read for fans of Raina Telgemeier
. (Graphic fiction. 12 & up)
Shakespeare’s tragic lovers receive star treatment in this spellbinding graphic-novel production.
Hinds as director, set designer and writer has expertly abridged the original text while embellishing it with modern sensibilities. His edition retains the flavor and poetry of the 1597 play and its memorable and oft-quoted dialogue. It is in the watercolor and digitally illustrated panels that he truly presents a stunning visual reading. Juliet and the Capulets are from India. Romeo and the Montagues are from Africa. Thus, the political rivalries of Verona become contemporary and more meaningful to 21st-century readers. The Capulets are dressed in reds and the Montagues in blue—all against the finely rendered lines of Verona’s buildings and Friar Laurence’s monastery. Beautiful shades of blue infuse the night sky as the two lovers swear their eternal devotion. The panels vary in size to control the pace of the plot. Sword fights pulse with energy and occasional karate thrusts for added drama. The most moving image—a double-page spread without words—is depicted from above in shades of gold and brown stained red with blood as Romeo and Juliet lie dead and immortalized in each other’s arms.
As thrilling and riveting as any staging.
(Graphic drama. 12 & up)
Eisner winner Powell’s dramatic black-and-white graphic art ratchets up the intensity in this autobiographical opener by a major figure in the civil rights movement.
In this first of a projected trilogy, Lewis, one of the original Freedom Riders and currently in his 13th term as a U.S. Representative, recalls his early years—from raising (and preaching to) chickens on an Alabama farm to meeting Martin Luther King Jr. and joining lunch-counter sit-ins in Nashville in 1960. The account flashes back and forth between a conversation with two young visitors in Lewis’ congressional office just prior to Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration and events five or more decades ago. His education in nonviolence forms the central theme, and both in his frank, self-effacing accounts of rising tides of protest being met with increasingly violent responses and in Powell’s dark, cinematically angled and sequenced panels, the heroism of those who sat and marched and bore the abuse comes through with vivid, inspiring clarity. The volume closes with the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (which Lewis went on to chair), and its publication is scheduled to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, at which Lewis preceded Dr. King on the podium: “Of everyone who spoke at the march, I’m the only one who’s still around.”
A powerful tale of courage and principle igniting sweeping social change, told by a strong-minded, uniquely qualified eyewitness.
(Graphic memoir. 11-15)
Printz Award winner Yang’s ambitious two-volume graphic novel follows the intertwined lives of two young people on opposite sides of the turn-of-the-20th-century Boxer Rebellion.
Little Bao, whose story is told in Boxers, grows up fascinated by the opera’s colorful traditional tales and filled with reverence for the local deities. Appalled by the arrogant behavior of foreign soldiers, Christian missionaries and their Chinese supporters, he eventually becomes a leader of the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist, fighting under the slogan “Support the Ch’ing! Destroy the Foreigner!” The protagonist of Saints—an unlucky, unwanted, unnamed fourth daughter—is known only as Four-Girl until she’s christened Vibiana upon her conversion to Catholicism. Beaten by her family for her beliefs, she finds refuge and friendship with foreign missionaries, making herself a target for the Boxers. Scrupulously researched, the narratives make a violent conflict rarely studied in U.S. schools feel immediate, as Yang balances historical detail with humor and magical realism. Ch’in Shih-huang, the first emperor of China, and Joan of Arc serve as Bao’s and Vibiana’s respective spiritual guides; the rich hues of the protagonists’ visions, provided by colorist Lark Pien, contrast effectively with the muted earth tones of their everyday lives. The restrained script often, and wisely, lets Yang’s clear, clean art speak for itself.
This tour de force fearlessly asks big questions about culture, faith, and identity and refuses to offer simple answers.
(Graphic historical fiction. 12 & up)
Two friends alternate narration and struggle with grief and trauma after a violent murder.
Freerunners who fearlessly climb and jump through the city as an urban obstacle course, Holly, Savitri and Corey are nearly inseparable—Holly and Corey twins, Savitri and Corey dating, Holly and Savitri best friends. But then a gunman murders Corey and gravely wounds Holly. Comatose Holly dreams that a snake man, Kortha, claims Corey for the Shadowlands. Phillips’ masterful dream illustrations, marked by fluid, bold lines and strong angles that create impeccable clarity and movement, provide intermittent graphic-novel segments. The strategically deployed illustrated sections pack major narrative and emotional punches. Upon waking from her coma, Holly can’t let go of her dreams. She latches onto her favorite comic-book character, a vengeance-bound superhero named Leopardess. Meanwhile, Savitri struggles to support the ever more distant and erratic Holly at the cost of dealing with her own needs. The two desperately try to make meaning of Corey’s death and find his killer. The girls are sympathetic in different ways, and their development as characters is natural, logical and seamless. Avasthi deftly weaves story elements and narrative techniques—two narrators, the graphic portions and even a flawlessly executed second-person passage—to create a rich portrait of friendship and the depths of reality-shattering grief.
Haunting, mesmerizing and intense.
(Graphic fiction hybrid. 13 & up)