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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL

Though important both culturally and historically, unfortunately what should be haunting is less than.

A stark and pensive glimpse at a young boy's family as they immigrate to West Berlin prior to the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Through the dual lenses of childhood innocence and adult hindsight, Schwartz tells the story of how his parents fled East Germany, leaving behind all they had ever known and even severing ties to loved ones who disagreed with their defection. More artistic than allegiant, and keenly observant, his parents come separately to their own realizations that they want to leave their oppressive homeland. When they apply for leave, they face the wrath of the fierce Stasi—East Germany’s police force, which knows no boundaries—and suffer ridicule, loss of privacy and humiliation as they are slowly denaturalized. Readers will feel the force of the stern and smothering oppression and should re-examine their own given freedoms. However, while significant and evocative, Schwartz's offering—bobbing about in a veritable sea of graphic memoirs—doesn't leave enough that lingers, down to its art, which is reminiscent of Marjane Satrapi’s or Zeina Abirached’s. For a more memorable—and visually striking—look into this time, check out Peter Sís’ remarkable The Wall (2007).

Though important both culturally and historically, unfortunately what should be haunting is less than. (glossary, timeline, map) (Graphic memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-5840-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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THE FAINT OF HEART

A fast-paced dip into the possibility of a world without human emotions.

A teenage girl refuses a medical procedure to remove her heart and her emotions.

June lives in a future in which a reclusive Scientist has pioneered a procedure to remove hearts, thus eliminating all “sadness, anxiety, and anger.” The downside is that it numbs pleasurable feelings, too. Most people around June have had the procedure done; for young people, in part because doing so helps them become more focused and successful. Before long, June is the only one among her peers who still has her heart. When her parents decide it’s time for her to have the procedure so she can become more focused in school, June hatches a plan to pretend to go through with it. She also investigates a way to restore her beloved sister’s heart, joining forces with Max, a classmate who’s also researching the Scientist because he has started to feel again despite having had his heart removed. The pair’s journey is somewhat rushed and improbable, as is the resolution they achieve. However, the story’s message feels relevant and relatable to teens, and the artwork effectively sets the scene, with bursts of color popping throughout an otherwise black-and-white landscape, reflecting the monochromatic, heartless reality of June’s world. There are no ethnic or cultural markers in the text; June has paper-white skin and dark hair, and Max has dark skin and curly black hair.

A fast-paced dip into the possibility of a world without human emotions. (Graphic speculative fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 13, 2023

ISBN: 9780063116214

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

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HAMLET

From the Campfire Graphic Novels series

A solid introduction for budding lovers of the Bard.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

The timeless tale of the young and disaffected Danish prince who is pushed to avenge his father’s untimely murder at the hands of his brother unfolds with straightforward briskness. Shakespeare’s text has been liberally but judiciously cut, staying true to the thematic meaning while dispensing with longer speeches (with the notable exception of the renowned “to be or not to be” soliloquy) and intermediary dialogues. Some of the more obscure language has been modernized, with a glossary of terms provided at the end; despite these efforts, readers wholly unfamiliar with the story might struggle with independent interpretation. Where this adaptation mainly excels is in its art, especially as the play builds to its tensely wrought final act. Illustrator Kumar (World War Two, 2015, etc.) pairs richly detailed interiors and exteriors with painstakingly rendered characters, each easily distinguished from their fellows through costume, hairstyle, and bearing. Human figures are generally depicted in bust or three-quarter shots, making the larger panels of full figures all the more striking. Heavily scored lines of ink form shadows, lending the otherwise bright pages a gritty air. All characters are white.

A solid introduction for budding lovers of the Bard. (biography of Shakespeare, dramatis personae, glossary) (Graphic novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-93-81182-51-2

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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