A glossy introduction to the highs and lows of Nijinsky’s life and work.

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THE GREAT NIJINSKY

GOD OF DANCE

The story of Vaslav Nijinsky’s life—onstage and off, in all its glamour and tragedy—unfolds.

Originally drawn to Nijinsky by photos of the ballet dancer in costume, Curlee (Trains, 2009, etc.) engaged in extensive research and details major events in Nijinsky’s life, beginning with his birth to traveling Polish performers and continuing through to his eventual confinement in various asylums and death in 1950. While much of the content focuses on Nijinsky’s art, both his dancing and choreography, time is also spent on his personal life. The text includes short biographical sketches of important artists, such as Diaghilev and Stravinsky, with whom Nijinsky crossed paths as well as explorations of Nijinsky’s romantic relationships and mental health. These discussions are frank, and though they never devolve into titillation, they do occasionally include questionable descriptions (“He was…what some would term stark raving mad”) and label Nijinsky’s sexual orientation using modern terms. Interspersed between chapters are stylized programs detailing various ballets that Nijinsky performed or choreographed, including descriptions of the ballet’s history and plot and paintings by the author. Quotations from contemporaries and occasionally the dancer himself breathe further life into the narrative. The photographs and illustrations add interest and points of engagement in what is an otherwise tragic tale of a brooding artist.

A glossy introduction to the highs and lows of Nijinsky’s life and work. (author’s note, list of performances, source notes, bibliography, image credits, index) (Biography. 13-18)

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58089-800-3

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Charlesbridge Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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

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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DRAGON HOOPS

The trials of a high school basketball team trying to clinch the state title and the graphic novelist chronicling them.

The Dragons, Bishop O’Dowd High School’s basketball team, have a promising lineup of players united by the same goal. Backed by Coach Lou Richie, an alumnus himself, this could be the season the Oakland, California, private Catholic school breaks their record. While Yang (Team Avatar Tales, 2019, etc.), a math teacher and former National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, is not particularly sporty, he is intrigued by the potential of this story and decides to focus his next graphic novel on the team’s ninth bid for the state championship. Yang seamlessly blends a portrait of the Dragons with the international history of basketball while also tying in his own career arc as a graphic novelist as he tries to balance family, teaching, and comics. Some panels directly address the creative process, such as those depicting an interaction between Yang and a Punjabi student regarding the way small visual details cue ethnicity in different ways. This creative combination of memoir and reportage elicits questions of storytelling, memory, and creative liberty as well as addressing issues of equity and race. The full-color illustrations are varied in layout, effectively conveying intense emotion and heart-stopping action on the court. Yang is Chinese American, Richie is black, and there is significant diversity among the team members.

A winner. (notes, bibliography) (Graphic nonfiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-079-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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