83 DAYS IN MARIUPOL

A WAR DIARY

Succinct, effective storytelling combined with haunting art.

A harrowing account of Ukrainian civilians and their defenders during the 2022 Russian attack and occupation of Mariupol.

In February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in opposition to international norms and agreements, falsely claimed that ethnic Russians in Ukraine were being persecuted and the country needed “denazification” as a premise for invasion. The port city of Mariupol came under attack days later. Through reports from eyewitnesses, the nightmarish realities of war come alive on the pages. Various aspects of the siege on Mariupol are covered, including Ukrainian reactions, desperate attempts to get to safety, and the last stand at the Azovstal steel plant, where over 3,000 people, civilians and soldiers alike, took shelter. The fighting was bloody and intense, with no hope for escape or help, but the Ukrainians stayed the course until forced to surrender in May 2022. The book doesn’t shy away from presenting the horrors of war—mass graves, rape, child death—and the plight of civilians trying to survive freezing temperatures without heat, electricity, water or food. However, its thoughtful, intentional approach and the muted, monochromatic, sketchlike art that conveys emotional impressions more than graphic, gory details help to convey the traumatic events in a way that teen readers can absorb. The plight of non-White Ukrainian residents who faced discrimination both within the country as they attempted to flee and from other countries where they sought refuge is mentioned.

Succinct, effective storytelling combined with haunting art. (map, source notes, bibliography) (Graphic nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9780063311565

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

BANNED BOOK CLUB

A tribute to young people’s resistance in the face of oppression.

In 1983 South Korea, Kim was learning to navigate university and student political activism.

The daughter of modest restaurant owners, Kim was apolitical—she just wanted to make her parents proud and be worthy of her tuition expenses. Following an administrator’s advice to avoid trouble and pursue extracurriculars, she joined a folk dance team where she met a fellow student who invited her into a banned book club. Kim was fearful at first, but her thirst for knowledge soon won out. As she learned the truth of her country’s oppressive fascist political environment, Kim became closer to the other book club members while the authorities grew increasingly desperate to identify and punish student dissidents. The kinetic manhwa drawing style skillfully captures the personal and political history of this eye-opening memoir. The disturbing elements of political corruption and loss of human rights are lightened by moving depictions of sweet, funny moments between friends as well as deft political maneuvering by Kim herself when she was eventually questioned by authorities. The art and dialogue complement each other as they express the tension that Kim and her friends felt as they tried to balance school, family, and romance with surviving in a dangerous political environment. References to fake news and a divisive government make this particularly timely; the only thing missing is a list for further reading.

A tribute to young people’s resistance in the face of oppression. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-945820-42-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Iron Circus Comics

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

Awards & Accolades

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  • Readers Vote
  • 16


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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019


  • New York Times Bestseller

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

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