BIG BAD IRONCLAD!

From the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series

Livelier than the typical history textbook but sillier than the many outstanding works on the Civil War available for young...

Travel with Nathan Hale back to 1861 for the famous Civil War battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia, the war’s first ironclad ships.

Unless readers have read Hale’s One Dead Spy (2012) first, they may well wonder why the famous spy Nathan Hale, hanged for espionage in 1776, is telling this future story of naval warfare during the Civil War. It turns out that Nathan Hale—the spy, not the author—was standing at the gallows when he was swallowed by a giant book of American history. He lives to tell about it and, presumably, other tales of America for future volumes of Hazardous Tales. This volume, completed prior to One Dead Spy, is a wild ride of a graphic novel, featuring not only Nathan Hale, but his hangman, a fox representing Gustavus Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and the various participants in the battle. Sketched, inked and colored in Photoshop, the two-color, frenetic volume succeeds in presenting the chaos of war. The backmatter is notable for its informative biographies of key players, a timeline, and a small but well-selected bibliography. 

Livelier than the typical history textbook but sillier than the many outstanding works on the Civil War available for young readers, this will appeal to both history buffs and graphic-novel enthusiasts. (Graphic historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0395-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

GUTS

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

REAL FRIENDS

A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note)...

A truth-telling graphic memoir whose theme song could be Johnny Lee’s old country song “Lookin’ for Love in all the Wrong Places.”

Shannon, depicted in Pham’s clear, appealing panels as a redheaded white girl, starts kindergarten in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1979, and her story ends just before sixth grade. Desperately longing to be in “the group” at school, Shannon suffers persistent bullying, particularly from a mean girl, Jenny, which leads to chronic stomachaches, missing school, and doctor visits. Contemporary readers will recognize behaviors indicative of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but the doctor calls it anxiety and tells Shannon to stop worrying. Instead of being a place of solace, home adds to Shannon’s stress. The middle child of five, she suffers abuse from her oldest sibling, Wendy, whom Pham often portrays as a fierce, gigantic bear and whom readers see their mother worrying about from the beginning. The protagonist’s faith (presented as generically Christian) surfaces overtly a few times but mostly seems to provide a moral compass for Shannon as she negotiates these complicated relationships. This episodic story sometimes sticks too close to the truth for comfort, but readers will appreciate Shannon’s fantastic imagination that lightens her tough journey toward courage and self-acceptance.

A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-416-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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