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Telgemeier has created an utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume’s work. One night, Raina trips and falls after a Girl Scout meeting, knocking out her two front teeth. This leads to years of painful surgeries, braces, agonizing root canals and other oral atrocities. Her friends offer little solace through this trying ordeal, spending more of their time teasing than comforting her. After years of these girls’ constant belittling, Raina branches out and finds her own voice and a new group of friends. Young girls will relate to her story, and her friend-angst is palpable. Readers should not overlook this seemingly simply drawn work; the strong writing and emotionally expressive characters add an unexpected layer of depth. As an afterword, the author includes a photo of her smiling, showing off the results of all of the years of pain she endured. Irresistible, funny and touching—a must read for all teenage girls, whether en-braced or not. (Graphic memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-13205-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bantam Discovery

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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An inviting portrayal of a legendary political leader.

South African revolutionary Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom (1994), adapted in graphic form.

The original found millions of readers worldwide. Since comics often cross cultural boundaries and enable semiliterate and beginning readers to gain easier access to texts, this could find an even more diverse audience. In the foreword, Mandela writes that, for older readers “whose eyesight is not what it was, there is the option of simply looking at the pictures.” That good-natured remark is characteristic of the man. The story opens with his birth in 1918 and the giving of his all-too-appropriate birth name, Rolihlahla, “troublemaker.” The Mandela family was removed from its village by magisterial decree, the first in a long line of encounters between Mandela and authorities working to serve the apartheid state. The drawings, produced by the Umlando Wezithombe collective of graphic artists and illustrators, are detail-heavy and sophisticated, though most of the white characters are on the cartoonish side, all snarls and drool. One major exception is Bill Clinton, who figures in the later pages and whom the artists capture in a perfectly nuanced pose, left hand on chin, pensive look on brow. The story line takes the reader through the complexities of the apartheid regime and Mandela’s legal troubles with it, and his release from maximum-security prison at Robben Island after decades of imprisonment as anticlimactic as it was in real life. It also depicts his near-overnight transition from outlaw to national leader with much the confusion and uncertainty that Mandela himself must have felt. “You know that you are really famous the day you discover that you have become a comic character,” he writes.

An inviting portrayal of a legendary political leader.

Pub Date: July 18, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-393-07082-8

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2009

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Despite some flaws, this collection proudly stands as an engaging and erudite glimpse between the panels.

Q-and-A sessions with 13 influential creators of comics for children and teens.

Marcus, the renowned children’s-literature historian, sits down for frank interviews with some of today's most important and award-winning cartoonists, including Printz winner Gene Luen Yang, multiple Eisner Award recipient Hope Larson, and Scott O’Dell Award winner Matt Phelan. The artists tell their own stories and also speak about their influences and daily routines (if they have one). They not only provide personal insight into their lives and careers, but have also each created a new and original comic, centered around the theme of "the city," creating an embedded minianthology. These cartoons, however—the major visuals in an otherwise prose-heavy book—can fall disjointedly into the middle of the text, breaking up the natural rhythm of the questions and even sentences. Every conversation has an intimate, comfortable feel, and Marcus doesn't shy away from tough questions or blunt language, tackling such subjects as race and death. Though Marcus' questions are nothing if not thought-provoking and insightful, at times they feel a little aimless and cause the conversations to stumble. True fans, however, should not be put off by these editorial foibles and will revel in the deeper look into the creators they adore.

Despite some flaws, this collection proudly stands as an engaging and erudite glimpse between the panels. (source notes, art media notes, selected reading, index) (Nonfiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5938-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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