History that’s fun to read…and important.

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 Books

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.

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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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A truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story about a lost soul finding her way.

PASSPORT

Navigating high school is hard enough, let alone when your parents are CIA spies.

In this graphic memoir, U.S. citizen Glock shares the remarkable story of a childhood spent moving from country to country; abiding by strange, secretive rules; and the mystery of her parents’ occupations. By the time she reaches high school in an unspecified Central American nation—the sixth country she’s lived in—she’s begun to feel the weight of isolation and secrecy. After stealing a peek at a letter home to her parents from her older sister, who is attending college in the States, the pieces begin to fall into place. Normal teenage exploration and risk-taking, such as sneaking out to parties and flirtations with boys, feel different when you live and go to school behind locked gates and kidnapping is a real risk. This story, which was vetted by the CIA, follows the author from childhood to her eventual return to a home country that in many ways feels foreign. It considers the emotional impact of familial secrets and growing up between cultures. The soft illustrations in a palette of grays and peaches lend a nostalgic air, and Glock’s expressive faces speak volumes. This is a quiet, contemplative story that will leave readers yearning to know more and wondering what intriguing details were, of necessity, edited out. Glock and many classmates at her American school read as White; other characters are Central American locals.

A truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story about a lost soul finding her way. (Graphic memoir. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-45898-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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