Short, gleeful and precise.

READ REVIEW

MISSOURI BOY

One artist’s mild childhood, told in episodic flashes.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a tale of growing up that trades neither in overwhelming nostalgia nor sheer, unmitigated dysfunction, so the publication of this illustrated memoir by Myrick (Bright Elegy, not reviewed) is especially welcome. The artist’s upbringing in a small Missouri town not far from St. Louis is chronicled in self-contained episodes identified by year, beginning in 1961 and ending in 1985. Each chapter is an evocative vignette that could almost stand on its own, and several have a Bradbury-esque glow, while darkness falls over some sections. In “My Father’s Hands,” which begins with the family dressing for court, Myrick’s oldest brother, “head bowed, hippie beard pressed against his chest,” gets a ten-year sentence for bank robbery. The most imaginative of these episodes compares his pregnant mother’s swollen belly to the distended shape of “one dying grandmother bulging with the death growing in her stomach,” then envisions the birth of the artist and his twin: “We enter the world, my brother and I . . . with the circle of life wobbling unsteadily. Attached to a grandmother we will never meet.” Most of these stories began as poems, and their elliptical lilt remains, accentuated by Myrick’s artwork (color by Hilary Sycamore), replete with haunted eyes and giant, toothy smiles. By the end, when his youthful self shakes off the past (“I feel the presence of my local gods waning”) and he heads for California, readers may feel wistful for a childhood they never experienced.

Short, gleeful and precise.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2006

ISBN: 1-59643-110-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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This engrossing Indigenous tale remains a tribute to the missing and murdered and a clarion call to everyone else.

SURVIVING THE CITY

From the Debwe series

A debut YA graphic novel finds a teenager emotionally and then physically adrift as her home life worsens.

Miikwan and Dez are Indigenous Canadian teens. Miikwan, who is Anishinaabe, has lost her mother. Dez, who is Inninew, lives with her grandmother (or kokum). The girls are best friends—like sisters—who completed their yearlong Berry Fast together (which teaches girls entering womanhood patience). One day, Dez learns that her diabetic kokum might need to have her foot removed. Further, Dez would have to live in a group home. In school, the girls choose to present their Berry Fast for a class Heritage Project. Before starting work on the project, they visit the city mall, where Miikwan’s mom “always used to tell me to be careful.” When the girls notice the predatory stares of older men, they leave and visit the Forks historical area. The last time they were there, they attended a rally for No More Stolen Sisters. A memorial sculpture dedicated to missing women reminds Miikwan of her own beautiful mother, whose spirit still guides her. Later, Dez returns home only to see through the window that a social worker speaks with her kokum. Devastated, she wanders into a park. Her cellphone dies, and she curls up on a bench as night falls. In this harrowing but hopeful tale, illustrator Donovan (The Sockeye Mother, 2017) and author Spillett spotlight the problem of “Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People.” While this is a global issue, the graphic novel focuses on the Winnipeg area and highlights for its target audience situations that may pose risk. While Miikwan travels alone on a bus or in the city, readers see both benign and ghoulish spirits present. Spillett knows when to hold dialogue back and allow Donovan’s superb facial expressions to carry the moment, as when Dez spots the social worker in her home. Radiant colors and texting between characters should draw teens into the story, which simply and effectively showcases the need for community solutions to society’s worst ills.

This engrossing Indigenous tale remains a tribute to the missing and murdered and a clarion call to everyone else.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55379-756-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: HighWater Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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A visually stimulating and emotionally gripping graphic novel about the Métis people.

RED RIVER RESISTANCE

A GIRL CALLED ECHO

From the A Girl Called Echo series , Vol. 2

A sequel offers a teenager’s further adventures through Métis history.

In Vermette’s (Pemmican Wars, 2018, etc.) graphic novel, Métis teen Echo Desjardins is starting to fit in a little better at Winnipeg Middle School, making friends and getting involved in the Indigenous Students Leadership group. But she still spends most of her time listening to music on her cellphone and getting swept up in the lectures that her teacher gives on the history of the Métis people. This volume covers the 1869 Red River Rebellion—or Red River Resistance, as Echo’s back-in-time friend Benjamin calls it, because “there will be no violence.” After the Hudson Bay Company sells the land on which the Métis people live to the government of Canada, Métis leaders Louis Riel and Ambroise Lépine attempt to halt the inevitable flood of settlers. They establish a provisional Métis government for the Northwest Province. Though the Métis take great pains to negotiate peacefully with the incoming Canadian government, troublemakers both inside and outside of their territory—including the anti–Roman Catholic, anti-French, anti-Indigenous Orangemen—may make the violence that Benjamin promised would never occur impossible to stop. As Echo witnesses one of the great what-ifs of North American history fall apart, the tragedy is reflected in the pain she feels in her personal life back in the 21st century. As in the previous volume, the story is accompanied by beautiful, full-color artwork by the team of Henderson and Yaciuk (Pemmican Wars, 2018, etc.). This book has less of Echo’s own life in it than the first novel, and the historical portions, with their many bearded 19th-century leaders, feel perhaps more didactic and less dramatic than the author’s account of the Pemmican Wars. Even so, this underexplored portion of North American history should prove intriguing and affecting for readers, particularly those living in the United States, where the struggles of the Métis people are largely unknown. By contrasting these historical events side by side with Echo’s story, this installment does a wonderful job showing how the ripples of past policies have shaped the current day and how political decisions always have a personal cost.

A visually stimulating and emotionally gripping graphic novel about the Métis people.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55379-747-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HighWater Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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