A worthy introduction that offers a young Anglophone audience entry into a legend of Africa without the annoyance of...

SHAKA RISING

A LEGEND OF THE WARRIOR PRINCE

From the African Graphic Novel Series series , Vol. 1

Shaka Zulu rises to power amid great regional turmoil to defend his people against the tide of the expanding European-backed slave trade.

Gogo, an elder, opens by announcing that the story of Shaka is the “story that is part of all of our stories…it is in the clay of our homes…in our blood and our bones.” In this series opener, Shaka, the son of Zulu chief Senzanghakona, struggles with his brother Sigujana over the succession and is eventually forced into exile. Shaka recovers under the leadership of northern neighbor King Dingiswayo, and his skills in battle earn him the reputation of a wise and accomplished warrior. Yet as tribes vie to control new territories and imprison soldiers for eventual European trade, he recognizes that he must return home and assume his responsibility to lead the Zulu. This graphic novel admirably allows its hero to retain flaws and scars that keep him squarely in the realm of the human. Molver’s clean panels also emphasize this, advancing the story in well-paced sequences that balance action with calm. In an era when the stories of colonial exploitation and European enslavement overdetermine how global audiences encounter African stories, Molver and O’Connor forthrightly center this tale on the struggles among the indigenous tribes and nations as they seek to maintain their lands and lifeways while still acknowledging that they, too, have a confluence with the “dark days.” Several pages of backmatter offer historical and cultural context, a glossary, discussion questions, and a pronunciation guide.

A worthy introduction that offers a young Anglophone audience entry into a legend of Africa without the annoyance of overtranslation and with refreshingly three-dimensional characters. (Graphic historical fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-946498-99-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Story Press Africa

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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

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THEY CALLED US ENEMY

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. 5, 2019

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