An evocative meditation on personal pain and dreams deferred.

LUISA

NOW & THEN

A 30-something woman must reckon with judgments from her 15-year-old self.

In 2013, Luisa Arambol, a commercial food photographer, lives in the Paris apartment left to her by her late Aunt Aurelia, a woman she barely knew. Luisa has little contact with her mother, unsatisfying short-term relationships with men, and an irresponsible relationship with alcohol. In the 1990s, Luisa pops a cassette into her Walkman, hops on a bus to her home near Chartres, and nods off, waking up in Paris. She is rescued by Luisa’s neighbor Sasha, who deposits her with Luisa senior, and the two work out their connection—as well as a cover story about a long-lost cousin. Teen Luisa is horrified, regarding her older self as a sellout who compromised on artistic integrity. Even more painful to confront is both Luisas’ feelings about her sexuality and her treatment of a teenage friend who was a target of homophobic bullying. Lesbian Sasha becomes a lightning rod for adult Luisa’s conflicted feelings. As the two Luisas spend time more together, they experience greater conflict as well as a melding of sorts. The golden-hued illustrations vividly evoke the Parisian setting, with flashbacks rendered in sepia tones. The realism of the art accentuates the surreal dislocation both women experience. The story is told honestly, with no sugarcoating of painful truths, and will hold strong appeal for teen and adult readers alike. Main characters are white; there are secondary characters of color.

An evocative meditation on personal pain and dreams deferred. (Graphic fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: June 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59465-643-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Life Drawn

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

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Shakespeare’s fantastical dream in an appealing format that can be shared with a wider audience.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

From the Manga Classics series

Manga that brings to life Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy.

This third entry in Manga Classics’ adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays maintains their practice of reproducing the full text of the original. The black-and-white illustrations allow readers to easily follow the plot while also picking up on subtle themes that are significant to understanding the play. For example, the abundant imagery surrounding the moon is emphasized by the moon’s presence in the backgrounds of many panels throughout the book, drawing readers’ attention. Long dialogues are also explained visually, which allows young readers to grasp what is being discussed without the need for a glossary or translation into modern English. The nobility is portrayed in a typical manga fashion with large eyes, small noses, and well-defined ears—but with appropriate Grecian clothing—while the commoners are easily visually distinguishable from them in style. The guide to reading manga at the beginning unfortunately describes the right-to-left reading order as “backwards from the normal books you know,” a strangely judgment-laden description for a book using manga to broaden the cultural exposure of young readers. However, the creators’ notes at the end offer fascinating insights into the adaptation process and may inspire budding manga artists to attempt their own works.

Shakespeare’s fantastical dream in an appealing format that can be shared with a wider audience. (cast, creators’ notes, character design sheet) (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947808-10-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Manga Classics

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A solid introduction for budding lovers of the Bard.

HAMLET

From the Campfire Graphic Novels series

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

The timeless tale of the young and disaffected Danish prince who is pushed to avenge his father’s untimely murder at the hands of his brother unfolds with straightforward briskness. Shakespeare’s text has been liberally but judiciously cut, staying true to the thematic meaning while dispensing with longer speeches (with the notable exception of the renowned “to be or not to be” soliloquy) and intermediary dialogues. Some of the more obscure language has been modernized, with a glossary of terms provided at the end; despite these efforts, readers wholly unfamiliar with the story might struggle with independent interpretation. Where this adaptation mainly excels is in its art, especially as the play builds to its tensely wrought final act. Illustrator Kumar (World War Two, 2015, etc.) pairs richly detailed interiors and exteriors with painstakingly rendered characters, each easily distinguished from their fellows through costume, hairstyle, and bearing. Human figures are generally depicted in bust or three-quarter shots, making the larger panels of full figures all the more striking. Heavily scored lines of ink form shadows, lending the otherwise bright pages a gritty air. All characters are white.

A solid introduction for budding lovers of the Bard. (biography of Shakespeare, dramatis personae, glossary) (Graphic novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-93-81182-51-2

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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