Advanced cartoonists may prefer a longer book, like McCloud’s, but this book has all the secrets beginners might need.

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TEN SECRETS TO CREATING YOUR OWN COMICS

People are always asking writers, “Where do you get your ideas?” This book actually answers the question.

Everyone knows that the best way to get a child to do something is to say it’s forbidden. McLachlan has given this book the subtitle “Ten Secrets to Creating Your Own Comics,” so that readers think they’re gaining forbidden knowledge. Some of the information isn’t much of a secret. The first tip is: “Comics marry pictures and words….” But the author’s really talking about much bigger ideas, like the different ways that words and pictures show the passage of time. He talks about the way a word or a picture can inspire readers, telling them that “the comic panels invite the reader to imagine what has happened between them.” None of this is hidden knowledge (Scott McCloud discussed most of the same topics in Understanding Comics, 1994), but it’s valuable information. The sections about generating ideas give very practical advice, especially the pages on “brainstorm doodles.” The sample comics that appear throughout the book aren’t quite so impressive (ROBIN HOOD: “Marian, would you like to join us in our forest?” MARIAN: “Sure wood!”), but the techniques they demonstrate are worth learning.

Advanced cartoonists may prefer a longer book, like McCloud’s, but this book has all the secrets beginners might need. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-926973-83-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note)...

REAL FRIENDS

A truth-telling graphic memoir whose theme song could be Johnny Lee’s old country song “Lookin’ for Love in all the Wrong Places.”

Shannon, depicted in Pham’s clear, appealing panels as a redheaded white girl, starts kindergarten in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1979, and her story ends just before sixth grade. Desperately longing to be in “the group” at school, Shannon suffers persistent bullying, particularly from a mean girl, Jenny, which leads to chronic stomachaches, missing school, and doctor visits. Contemporary readers will recognize behaviors indicative of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but the doctor calls it anxiety and tells Shannon to stop worrying. Instead of being a place of solace, home adds to Shannon’s stress. The middle child of five, she suffers abuse from her oldest sibling, Wendy, whom Pham often portrays as a fierce, gigantic bear and whom readers see their mother worrying about from the beginning. The protagonist’s faith (presented as generically Christian) surfaces overtly a few times but mostly seems to provide a moral compass for Shannon as she negotiates these complicated relationships. This episodic story sometimes sticks too close to the truth for comfort, but readers will appreciate Shannon’s fantastic imagination that lightens her tough journey toward courage and self-acceptance.

A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-416-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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