Next book



A lively, inspirational tale that will point young readers toward art, music, and resistance of their own.

A sometimes bitter and brittle, always heartfelt memoir of growing up as a Black punk rocker in rural California.

“Apple Valley, California, like most of small town America, sucks.” So writes Spooner in this probing graphic memoir. The high desert of the title is a place where “you can count on dirt, desolation, and despair.” As the author reveals, you can also count on the anomie that leads some kids to drugs, some to suicide, some to neo-Nazism. His White mother, “raising a black son on her own,” coped as best she could to protect the young man. There was plenty of harm to face, with an absence of role models and plenty of reasons to keep one’s head down to avoid the inevitable high school bullying. Spooner found solace in punk rock and its accouterments—mohawk haircut, combat boots, etc.—all of which only drew more attention to him. There weren’t many role models in punk, either, for a young man of color, even though bands like Black Flag had “two tone” and minority members—all good reason to found a punk band of his own. Spooner is a discerning student of his own past and the movement he joined. As he notes, punk was steeped in politics, especially of the intersectional sort that rejected racism, sexism, homophobia, and Reagan-era retrograde culture. “Punk positioned me to listen,” he writes. A sojourn in New York to visit his father, an award-winning professional bodybuilder from St. Lucia, occasioned an encounter with even more political punks, to say nothing of Joey Ramone, and helped him launch a number of zines as well as a record label. “This is what punk inspired,” he writes at the close of his eloquent latter-day rejoinder to Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City.

A lively, inspirational tale that will point young readers toward art, music, and resistance of their own.

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-65911-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

Next book


An accessible, informative journey through complex issues during turbulent times.

Immersion journalism in the form of a graphic narrative following a Syrian family on their immigration to America.

Originally published as a 22-part series in the New York Times that garnered a Pulitzer for editorial cartooning, the story of the Aldabaan family—first in exile in Jordan and then in New Haven, Connecticut—holds together well as a full-length book. Halpern and Sloan, who spent more than three years with the Aldabaans, movingly explore the family’s significant obstacles, paying special attention to teenage son Naji, whose desire for the ideal of the American dream was the strongest. While not minimizing the harshness of the repression that led them to journey to the U.S.—or the challenges they encountered after they arrived—the focus on the day-by-day adjustment of a typical teenager makes the narrative refreshingly tangible and free of political polemic. Still, the family arrived at New York’s JFK airport during extraordinarily political times: Nov. 8, 2016, the day that Donald Trump was elected. The plan had been for the entire extended family to move, but some had traveled while others awaited approval, a process that was hampered by Trump’s travel ban. The Aldabaans encountered the daunting odds that many immigrants face: find shelter and employment, become self-sustaining quickly, learn English, and adjust to a new culture and climate (Naji learned to shovel snow, which he had never seen). They also received anonymous death threats, and Naji wanted to buy a gun for protection. He asked himself, “Was this the great future you were talking about back in Jordan?” Yet with the assistance of selfless volunteers and a community of fellow immigrants, the Aldabaans persevered. The epilogue provides explanatory context and where-are-they-now accounts, and Sloan’s streamlined, uncluttered illustrations nicely complement the text, consistently emphasizing the humanity of each person.

An accessible, informative journey through complex issues during turbulent times.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30559-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

Next book


An erudite and artful, though frustratingly restrained, look at Old Testament stories.

The Book of Genesis as imagined by a veteran voice of underground comics.

R. Crumb’s pass at the opening chapters of the Bible isn’t nearly the act of heresy the comic artist’s reputation might suggest. In fact, the creator of Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural is fastidiously respectful. Crumb took pains to preserve every word of Genesis—drawing from numerous source texts, but mainly Robert Alter’s translation, The Five Books of Moses (2004)—and he clearly did his homework on the clothing, shelter and landscapes that surrounded Noah, Abraham and Isaac. This dedication to faithful representation makes the book, as Crumb writes in his introduction, a “straight illustration job, with no intention to ridicule or make visual jokes.” But his efforts are in their own way irreverent, and Crumb feels no particular need to deify even the most divine characters. God Himself is not much taller than Adam and Eve, and instead of omnisciently imparting orders and judgment He stands beside them in Eden, speaking to them directly. Jacob wrestles not with an angel, as is so often depicted in paintings, but with a man who looks not much different from himself. The women are uniformly Crumbian, voluptuous Earth goddesses who are both sexualized and strong-willed. (The endnotes offer a close study of the kinds of power women wielded in Genesis.) The downside of fitting all the text in is that many pages are packed tight with small panels, and too rarely—as with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah—does Crumb expand his lens and treat signature events dramatically. Even the Flood is fairly restrained, though the exodus of the animals from the Ark is beautifully detailed. The author’s respect for Genesis is admirable, but it may leave readers wishing he had taken a few more chances with his interpretation, as when he draws the serpent in the Garden of Eden as a provocative half-man/half-lizard. On the whole, though, the book is largely a tribute to Crumb’s immense talents as a draftsman and stubborn adherence to the script.

An erudite and artful, though frustratingly restrained, look at Old Testament stories.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-393-06102-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

Close Quickview