Thursday, April 7, 2011

S(n)ow graphic

I can’t think of too many upsides to the never-ending winter Calgary is being subjected to – except one.  I’m getting a fair bit of reading done on the weekends, making my cat very happy, indeed. (I guess that would be two upsides.)

I’ve been catching up on graphic novels.  There have been so many good ones, some excellent ones and a few that were ok.   Here are those I think most worthy:

For middle school:
Amelia rules: the tweenage guide to not being unpopular by Jimmy Gownley
As usual, chaos is the name-of-the-game (however inadvertent it may be) for Amelia and her friends.  It’s all about fitting-in and being popular and not necessarily being both.  Riotous is the word that best comes to mind for Amelia.

Amulet: The stonekeeper, vol.1 by Kazu Kibuishi
A family, struggling to find their feet, after the father dies in a car accident, move to a dilapidated house left by a long-missing relative. The children follow their mother into an underground world with menacing creatures, helpful robots and a mysterious amulet that grants Emily guidance and power. 

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel
Great fantasy, where Garth (who is very much alive) is accidentally pulled into Ghostopolis, a ghost world controlled by various leaders, one with nefarious intentions.  Liked the humour.

Zebrafish by Sharon Emerson
A diverse group of kids start up a band, using their popularity to raise money and awareness about cancer and the importance of research. I liked the illustrations very much.  Good fit with the story.

For high school:
Mercury by Hope Larson
Two stories, one in the present and one in 1850, of two teenage girls.  Tara is coping with a different life after the farmhouse she lived in her mother burned down.  Jossey, Tara’s distant relative, falls in love with a young man who convinces her father to venture into gold mining. The young man proves to be untrustworthy and ultimately, a killer.The stories connect with a necklace that seems attracted to metal – very handy when you’re looking for lost keys or perhaps buried gold…

Moving pictures by Kathryn Immonen
It’s World War II and France is occupied by the Nazis.  Ila Gardner, an art curator, refuses to leave her work at the gallery but also hides significant works of art from the Nazis.  Her relationship with an officer, Rolf Hauptmann, complicates everything.  The narrative, which reflects Ila’s seemingly indifferent attitude toward everything around her, means I didn’t emotionally connect with her either.  But that only contributes to some of the bigger questions posed in this story about the significance of art and the choices we make. Kind of bleak but  deep.

Ooku: the Inner Chamber, vol. 1 by Fumi Yoshinaga
This story takes place in historical Japan but in an alternative world where many men have died due to a fatal virus. Because of men’s scarcity and vulnerability, women now shoulder the bulk of all work and government.  Thus the emperor is a woman with a palace filled with men who, as may be expected in confined quarters, establish many different kinds of relationships to further their own ends.  Some interesting scenes about sexual relationships between men and women and men and men.

Stitches: a memoir by David Small
David Small is well-known as a children’s author/illustrator.  This is his reflection about growing up in an unhappy home with undemonstrative and uncommunicative parents.  He isn’t even told that a ‘minor’ operation he undergoes on his neck is to remove a malignant tumor and he wakes to find one of his vocal cords removed.  His imagination and interest in drawing is a constant throughout the narrative and, with support, he does come out on the other side of this appalling time. Gripping.

That’s it for now.  In spite of the opportunity all this snowing has given me for reading, I’d really, really like it to stop – NOW, please.


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