This extremely modern guide to growing up excels in its field.

WAIT, WHAT?

A COMIC BOOK GUIDE TO RELATIONSHIPS, BODIES, AND GROWING UP

A graphic-novel guide to puberty, sexuality, and growing up.

Groundbreaking sexuality educator Corinna, founder of the website Scarleteen, works with cartoonist Rotman to bring her knowledge and experience to this slim but mighty guide. In a fashion similar to Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth’s Sex Is a Funny Word (2015), five friends (multiracial and multigendered) talk through complex questions with one another and with readers. This book consistently puts the needs of its readers first, meticulously working to emphasize gender diversity, individuality, and the messiness of adolescence. Preteens and teens who might be “worried [their] genitals look weird” are informed that “genitals ARE weird, but that’s okay.” Puberty is treated as the confusing, unpredictable process that it is, with the reassurance that “puberty doesn’t mean you’re grown up or mature” and that “emotional maturity” is more important. Body parts are intentionally ungendered, sexual orientations are shown as fluid and joyful, and there is a constant emphasis on the importance of friendships and mutual support. While brief, this guide manages to cover crucial topics thoroughly and humorously, reassuring readers that while all of this is a big deal, it’s something they can handle. The cartoony illustrations are appealing and fun, the book includes interactive activities such as word searches and crossword puzzles, and there’s a fairly thorough glossary in the back.

This extremely modern guide to growing up excels in its field. (further reading) (Graphic nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62010-659-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Limerence Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A rich and deeply felt slice of life.

JUST PRETEND

Crafting fantasy worlds offers a budding middle school author relief and distraction from the real one in this graphic memoir debut.

Everyone in Tori’s life shows realistic mixes of vulnerability and self-knowledge while, equally realistically, seeming to be making it up as they go. At least, as she shuttles between angrily divorced parents—dad becoming steadily harder to reach, overstressed mom spectacularly incapable of reading her offspring—or drifts through one wearingly dull class after another, she has both vivacious bestie Taylor Lee and, promisingly, new classmate Nick as well as the (all-girl) heroic fantasy, complete with portals, crystal amulets, and evil enchantments, taking shape in her mind and on paper. The flow of school projects, sleepovers, heart-to-heart conversations with Taylor, and like incidents (including a scene involving Tori’s older brother, who is having a rough adolescence, that could be seen as domestic violence) turns to a tide of change as eighth grade winds down and brings unwelcome revelations about friends. At least the story remains as solace and, at the close, a sense that there are still chapters to come in both worlds. Working in a simple, expressive cartoon style reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s, Sharp captures facial and body language with easy naturalism. Most people in the spacious, tidily arranged panels are White; Taylor appears East Asian, and there is diversity in background characters.

A rich and deeply felt slice of life. (afterword, design notes) (Graphic memoir. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53889-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Humble, endearing and utterly easy to relate to; don’t miss this one.

THE DUMBEST IDEA EVER!

The charismatic creator of the Eisner-nominated Amelia Rules! series recounts his beginnings as a cartoonist.

From the very first panel, Gownley’s graphic memoir is refreshingly different. He’s not the archetypal nerd, and he doesn’t retreat to draw due to feelings of loneliness or isolation. Gownley seems to be a smart kid and a talented athlete, and he has a loyal group of friends and a girlfriend. After he falls ill, first with chicken pox and then pneumonia, he falls behind in school and loses his head-of-the-class standing—a condition he is determined to reverse. A long-standing love of comics leads him to write his own, though his first attempt is shot down by his best friend, who suggests he should instead write a comic about their group. He does, and it’s an instant sensation. Gownley’s story is wonderful; his small-town life is so vividly evinced, it’s difficult to not get lost in it. While readers will certainly pick up on the nostalgia, it should be refreshing—if not completely alien—for younger readers to see teens interacting without texting, instead using phones with cords. Eagle-eyed readers will also be able to see the beginnings of his well-loved books about Amelia. He includes an author’s note that shouldn’t be overlooked—just be sure to keep the tissues handy.

Humble, endearing and utterly easy to relate to; don’t miss this one. (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-45346-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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