Sunday, November 17, 2013

Recommended Core Collection Is Here!

Are you starting to develop your graphic novel collection? Wondering why circs are down? Maybe you just need a few new titles but have no idea what to add.

Allow me to present my Recommended Core Collection page on this blog. This page is going to be a list of all the graphic novels I've seen stand the test of time and are referenced again and again. In time, I hope to equally represent heroes and authors with the best works. When I have a review available, there will be a link to my review. Eventually, I hope to add recommended age tags to the titles.

Don't have a lot of money? No problem. Look for the ones with the *. These are ones I think a library absolutely cannot live without.

Check out what is there now. Do you have some of these all ready? See a few classic GN authors you missed?


Side note: This list is, at the moment, DC heavy. I know. DC sent out this great Essentials catalog a few months back and they really knew which of their titles have stood the test of time. I used it to add new titles to my collection recently. I'll talk about that soon (I hope and assuming I can find my home copy). Also, full disclosure, I tend toward DC more than Marvel. Manga will be updated in due time. I know a few titles all ready that are cornerstones, but I have to really look at what was a cornerstone when I was a teen and now (some overlap exists). Manga generally goes regardless of the title, but there are a few titles you should really have.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Reader's Advisory - SEPLA Workshop Thoughts and Such

For two months now I've been toying with the idea of dusting this place off. I told myself I would think about it...indefinitely because I think I have good ideas that turn out to be too much work and I only have so much time. Also, right now, I really don't need to add something into the mix.

Right now, I'm working on NaNoWriMo and am slated to reach my count by Nov. 23. (Side note:it has been so entertaining/wonderful to see librarians getting into this. I'm happy but it's like shiny and new to librarians but I've been aware of it since 2000-something and this is my second official year participating). Also, I have an orchestra concert this week which means my next two days are this: morning routine, work, hour-ish dinner break, rehearsal until who-knows-when (2-3 hours), NaNoWriMo, with Friday being the concert. (I'm pretty stoked, honestly. We sound great and it is awesome to be part of the community this way). Not to mention, we have a toddler of a 1-year old cat who thinks it is a great idea to do things to get us up between 3-6 AM.

So why now? Why did I decide, "sure, I'm going to give it another go and if it doesn't stick, I seriously need to consider giving up for good?"

I attended PaLA's SEPLA annual meeting and workshop today. Our special guest was Becky from RA for All. At this workshop/meeting, she talked about RA and how we have all the tools to be "virtual superstar librarians." She spoke a lot on "bridging the physical-virtual divide" and brought up lots of points I hadn't considered before. Some points are:
  • take your RA in the the library to virtual spaces to create a seamless experience
  • keep your voice the same or similar to how you are in real life (something I've been struggling with on this blog) 
  • RA really highlights your backlist. The new stuff gets enough attention when it comes out; don't worry about it now.
Other takeaways I had from looking at the blog and from the workshop included blogging for yourself, that the review format I have is very similar to what was on other RA blogs, and well, I have this energy that I want to use now, but can't (not a bad thing. I just would hate to jump in only to discover I have to shift gears quickly).

I honestly started this blog because I always seem to get fellow librarians in real life (irl) saying "You know about graphic novels, can you help me with XYZ." So, I wanted to share what I read. What stopped me recently (apparently in May) is that I was forcing myself to read new stuff and was growing annoyed I couldn't read what I wanted to read that was new because of money (yes, I'm on Netgalley, but when you have a manga fix, Netgalley doesn't always work). I want to buy manga but at $10 a pop with 15 volumes to a series easily vs. my 16 year old cat with asthma (in May it was the 17 year old Orange Cat with cancer who we lost in July) vs. the car REALLY needed new tires vs. music stuff and other stuff, the comic money I had as a teen is just not there (helloooooo adulthood).

But I still read comics and I am currently, sorta on a manga kick. My original intent was to blog about whatever I was reading graphic novel-wise. More recently, I thought I had to read what was new. I also felt that I couldn't cover YA because it is so overdone (in my opinion).

Thinking about the workshop and exploring the blogs today shows me I should just go back to my original intent: covering graphic novels (and YA occasionally). Eventually, I want to cover my idea of a "core collection." I want to index the reviews by titles (OMG). I have a few other ideas

OK Go - Here It Goes Again from OK Go on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Odd Duck

Title: Odd Duck
Author: Cecil Castellucci
Illustrator: Sara Varon
Publisher: First Second (:01)
Copyright: 2013
Price: $18.50
ISBN:  978-1596435575
Summary and Quick Thoughts: Theodora is a very particular duck. She wakes up, exercises in the pond with an object on her head (generally a tea cup), and goes about her errands. She does everything a good duck is supposed to do from eating the right food and reading the right book. She does add a little something odd to her errands though, but she doesn’t think this makes her strange. Her life is perfect and she hopes it remains that way.

Enter a new neighbor. Chad is almost the complete opposite of Theodora. He has ruffled feathers, swims crazily, and considers himself an artist. At first, she rebels at the idea of getting to know him, but one night, she finds him stargazing like her and they immediately hit it off. A friendship blossoms and they do a lot together. One day someone exclaims how odd the new duck is. Who is it though and will Chad and Theodora’s friendship survive this comment?

A colorful tale of friendship is told in this hybrid (part comic, part book). Ultimately, this book sends the message of being true to yourself and the importance of friendship in a simple work that goes sweetly with the perfect cup of tea (or not when it comes to kids).
Recommended Audience: elementary and up.
Things to be aware of: Nothing. Kid friendly
Further Thoughts: Adorable! Sweet! Cute! All of these words describe this simple hybrid book. Theodora is very particular and you know that something is going to upend her perfect world. Chat couldn’t be farther from her style, but they hit it off becoming close friends (although, it looks like more than friends in this kid tale). It is a great friendship tale, even if it is a very familiar tale.

The art is probably what helps this stand out and ducks. It’s about ducks who are similar to humans, but they still eat bland duck pellets. Theodora and Chad and the other ducks come to life in the art. There is lots of color and each duck seems different from the next. I also enjoy their curving, cartoony arms. It’s perfect for kids.

I suspect there will probably be more. I could see a story involving Chad teaching Theodora how to fly (or to overcome her fear only hinted at in this work), but maybe not. Maybe, they are just going to have this tale and be done (but I doubt it).

My only quibble with this book is a small thing. Theodora and Chad are friends, but they are awfully touchy-feely. They hug a lot and for the errands portion of the story they are linked, which, considering preschoolers having boyfriends and girlfriends, kids will latch onto it and believe there is more to this than the story lets on. On the other hand, I do enjoy the idea that you can be anything as long as you have a friend who cares about you. Theodora was so sure of herself at the beginning of the story and continued to stay that way. Chad came after and neither wanted to change the other. These are positive role models of friendships, and possibly romantic relationships geared perfectly for children.

Make room for this one on your children’s graphic novel shelf. So cute.
Source: Netgalley Request

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

Title: Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
Author: Prudence Shen
Illustrator: Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher: First Second (:01)
Copyright: 2013
Price: $18.99
ISBN: 978-1596436596
Summary and Quick Thoughts: Nerds versus jocks. Who will win in securing the student body president victory in the name of their own goals? Or will they come together and work toward a compromise? When the school has extra money to allocate, it is the Cheerleaders versus the Robot Team. The Cheerleaders want new outfits. The Robotics Team wants an opportunity to compete. The only way they can get that money is to become friends with the new student body president.

Nate, the Nerd, and Charlie, the Jock, are friends. Neither of them knows exactly why they are friends, but somehow, they keep coming to each other for their problems. Their friendship is tested when Holly, ex-girlfriend to Charlie and head cheerleader, sets Charlie up to run against Nate, who is running for his own team. Can they overcome this issue in their friendship? Is it even worth it for Charlie? He’s not exactly running anyway.

A wrench is thrown into everyone’s plan when politics goes just a little too far and it is up to The Robotics Team and the Cheerleaders to consider a plan of action that will benefit them both. Will it though?
Recommended Audience: high school
Things to be aware of: crude humor; mild violence; robot violence; challenge to authority; mild swearing
Further Thoughts: The eternal struggle between Nerds and Jocks is highlighted in this story as the Robotics Team and Cheerleaders fight for their goals. The strength in this one is that it highlights the idea that sometimes, you need to work together.

The Nerd group is a diverse group of people but none of them ever exactly fit the “stereotype.” They are all aspects of the stereotype but are their own person. It is a fun group to watch interact, even as some characters take a backseat to others (which is highlighted in a surprise twist ending). They are willing to fight for what they believe in and they are pretty level headed. Except Nate. Nate is a bit narrow minded, which helps the story as he only wants a certain end goal and will do anything to achieve it.

The Cheerleaders are everything you think of when it comes to cheerleaders, but again, we’ve got a diverse group of characters. The humor in their characters comes from the fact that they are so regimented and so stuck up. They are also a pretty smart group. Not “nerd smart” but enough that they do have their part in the story.

And then there is Charlie. He straddles the line with his friendship to Nate and his participation in sports (and at one point “dating” Holly). It is his character that is probably the center of this story and the common thread. He’s got his own problems outside of the high school drama that Nate and the Cheerleaders are making with him. He’s mad at his parents and would prefer not to get on anyone’s bad side. In the beginning, he’s still willing to do what he needs to do to not challenge the status quo. By the end though, he’s challenged it and finally found his voice for his problems at home.

Black and white illustrations tell this story in Faith Erin Hicks’s style. If you haven’t read her other work, you’ll recognize this as her style. Ironically, I kept forgetting I wasn’t reading a work by Bryan Lee O'Malley (Scott Pilgrim). Her own style is very close. You could probably say it is part Hope Larson and part O’Malley. It’s definitely great art. The only downside is that the robot actions get a bit confusing, but that’s for only two panels.

Highly recommended and I’ll be picking up a copy.
Bonus: Did you see my post about the Interesting Marketing Strategy for this one? Faith Erin Hicks was/is a webcomic artist (according to Wikipedia).

Source: Netgalley Request. (Pub date: May 7, 2013)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Miss Annie: Freedom (Book 1)

Title: Miss Annie: Freedom (Book 1)
Frank Le Gall
Illustrator: Flore Balthazar & Robin Doo
Graphic Universe
Copyright: 2011
Price: $29.27
ISBN: 978-0-7643-7884-6
Summary and Quick Thoughts: Four month old kitten Miss Annie thinks she’s all grown up. She’s determined to get outside and somehow, someday she will. Until then, she’s going to defend the house (from leaves) and chat with her best friend, a mouse, she dubs Keisha after Sarah’s (one of her humans) best friend. Miss Annie does get outside, only to discover that freedom isn’t exactly what she thought it was.
Recommended Audience: upper elementary (due to events in book 2)
Things to be aware of: N/A
Further Thoughts: This does not compare to Chi. Do not compare to Chi. This is not Chi who is the most adorable kitten to read about.

Ok, since this isn’t Chi, but another import and another title about a kitten, this one is interesting it its own way. It takes a Charlie Brown view of humans (excepting the way they talk) where we only see their feet, and Miss Annie’s observations of her humans are silly, yet enjoyable. She does get into cat antics, but in a way, they are not as numerous as…a real cat’s world it seems. Obviously, Sarah wanted the cat, but she doesn’t seem to care for it like her parents do. Huh.

This is a full color comic, which helps it, although Miss Annie’s patterns change periodically, which confused me. How is she supposed to be? Tuxedo? Just black and white?

Miss Annie: Freedom is an enjoyable title and might strike a chord in fans of Erin Hunter’s Warriors series. The first book mainly sets the stage, while the second book focuses more on what happens to Miss Annie in the world. It is no Chi’s Sweet Home though, especially in appeal. The first volume is accessible to all ages, but as Miss Annie matures, my thought is that it will immediately change into a title more appropriate to upper elementary and fans of the Warriors series.

Source: Library copy.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Zoe and Robot: Let's Pretend

Title: Zoe and Robot: Let’s Pretend
Ryan Sias
Illustrator: Ryan Sias
Blue Apple Books
Copyright: 2011
Price: $10.99
ISBN: 978-1-60905-063-4
Summary and Quick Thoughts: Zoe and Robot are going to climb Mt. Pillow, that is if Robot would just pretend. Like many adults, he can’t see what Zoe sees. A pile of pillows is a snow-covered mountain, the fan is a mountain breeze. Not to Robot. Is all lost or will Zoe figure out a way to help logical Robot pretend?
Recommended Audience: Children, K-3
Things to be aware of: Nothing.
Further Thoughts: Robot sees only a pile of pillows. This story is Zoe’s attempts to get Robot to see the mountain. In an age where I think imagination is disappearing, Zoe’s reminder to just pretend something is not what it is reminds us of the pleasures of pretend playing. Also, Zoe reminds us in the first panel not to spend all our time on video games, which is where she finds Robot when she wants to play. She successfully tears him away for adventures.

This is a simple graphic novel (really more of a comic book) for the beginning reader. Pairing pictures, words, and actions, readers can determine the story. Plus, it is a fun story about logic versus imagination. The illustrations are fun and the text simple, making this a great addition to early comic reader collections.


Source: Library copy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Nursery Rhyme Comics

Title: Nursery Rhyme Comics
Editor Chris Duffy
Illustrator: Various
First Second (:01)
Copyright: 2011
Price: $18.99
ISBN: 978-1-59643-600-8
Summary and Quick Thoughts: Nursery Rhyme Comics is a collection of 50 artist renditions of popular and unknown nursery rhymes for kids. The introduction discusses the collection and why it was done for parents. The afterward discusses a little more about nursery rhymes. Each spread is about 1 page to 3 pages long, perfect for those who are interested in bite sized readings.
Recommended Audience: all ages
Things to be aware of: None.
Further Thoughts: This title got a lot of buzz before it was released. I remember it being mentioned in a webinar or an article. Kids were getting copies of pages and were getting really excited for the book to come out. It got great ratings and it is easy to see why.

Take your favorite nursery rhyme and think about it. What images does it conjure for you? For the sake of this, I’m going to think about “Hickory Dickory Dock.” When I was a kid, I had a toy of sorts for the rhyme. It was a basic clock with a mouse running up the side, then down. In this collection, “Hickory Dickory Dock” is illustrated with a little mouse whose duty is to ring the bell. That is certainly different than what you may have pictured. That is exactly how Nursery Rhyme Comics goes.

I can’t pick a favorite. I won’t pick a favorite. Each spread has something to love in it from the hint of a recurring rhyme to a completely reimagining of Little Bo Peep (who looks older and smarter than she is typically portrayed). Each comic has something to it from being in the real world, to being in space, to covering different races of children. All walks of life are represented here and I think that really helps this collection. The artists also represented in this work are the best of the best from Craig Thompson of Blankets to Kate Beaton of the web comic “Hark! A Vagrant” to children’s illustrators David Macaulay (those gorgeous building books) and Nick Bruel (of Bad Kitty fame).

Nursery Rhyme Comics has something for everyone and is a winner in the library, especially for those looking to round out their children’s graphic novel sections.

Source: Library copy.