History that’s fun to read…and important.

READ REVIEW

BEST SHOT IN THE WEST

THE ADVENTURES OF NAT LOVE

On a train out of Denver in 1902, two old cowboys reminisce about the Old West.

Nat Love is now a Pullman porter on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, but he was once “Deadwood Dick,” a famous cowboy, every bit the equal to western heroes Bat Masterson, Calamity Jane, the Earps and Wild Bill Hickok. As a porter, he suffers rude treatment and racist comments, but when William Bugler boards the train, the “[w]orld’s best shooter and [the] world’s best scout” recall old times, and Bugler (an invented character) convinces Nat to write down his stories for his Kansas City newspaper. The remainder of the graphic novel is Nat’s stories—his life as a slave in Davidson County, Tenn., his work as a cowpuncher and his 20 years of adventures in a world that no longer exists. The text is complemented by acrylic-and-pen full-color illustrations (seen only in black-and-white for review), in which DuBurke uses his experience as a comic-book artist to capture the dramatic energy of line and gesture, just right for a gun-slinging hero. A perfect use of the graphic format to celebrate the life of a legendary American.

History that’s fun to read…and important. (authors’ note, illustrator’s note) (Historical fiction. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8118-5749-9

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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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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A tribute to young people’s resistance in the face of oppression.

BANNED BOOK CLUB

In 1983 South Korea, Kim was learning to navigate university and student political activism.

The daughter of modest restaurant owners, Kim was apolitical—she just wanted to make her parents proud and be worthy of her tuition expenses. Following an administrator’s advice to avoid trouble and pursue extracurriculars, she joined a folk dance team where she met a fellow student who invited her into a banned book club. Kim was fearful at first, but her thirst for knowledge soon won out. As she learned the truth of her country’s oppressive fascist political environment, Kim became closer to the other book club members while the authorities grew increasingly desperate to identify and punish student dissidents. The kinetic manhwa drawing style skillfully captures the personal and political history of this eye-opening memoir. The disturbing elements of political corruption and loss of human rights are lightened by moving depictions of sweet, funny moments between friends as well as deft political maneuvering by Kim herself when she was eventually questioned by authorities. The art and dialogue complement each other as they express the tension that Kim and her friends felt as they tried to balance school, family, and romance with surviving in a dangerous political environment. References to fake news and a divisive government make this particularly timely; the only thing missing is a list for further reading.

A tribute to young people’s resistance in the face of oppression. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-945820-42-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Iron Circus Comics

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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