A quiet powerhouse of a memoir.

SPINNING

Graphic novelist Walden recounts her years coming-of-age as a competitive ice skater.

Tillie Walden knew she was gay since she was 5, which was also when she began ice skating. This memoir recounts the years from when she’s 11 to when she reaches her late teens, as her life marches on through fledgling romances, moving halfway across the country, bullying, and various traumas with skating as her only constant. Her story is largely insular, with her family only visible in the periphery, even with regard to her skating. Walden’s recollections tend to meander at times, with an almost stream-of-consciousness feel about them; her taciturn introspection mixed with adolescent ennui creates a subdued, yet graceful tone. For a young author (Walden is in her early 20s), she is remarkably adept at identifying the seminal moments of her life and evincing their impacts on her trajectory. Her two-toned art is lovely and spare, utilizing the occasional splash of an accenting color to heighten visual interest. She draws herself as a blonde, bespectacled, white girl, a depiction that brings Harriet Welsch to mind. Walden deems herself “a creator who is happy making a book without all the answers,” and while she may not solve any of life’s great conundrums, her offering is intimate and compelling.

A quiet powerhouse of a memoir. (Graphic memoir. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-772-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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GUTS

THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND HATCHET AND THE BRIAN BOOKS

Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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