Reader’s Advisory Genre Guide: Graphic Novels

The Beauty Guru

There is a stigma with graphic novels: they are for the mindless, the nerds; they are worthless and detract from the serious work out there. This is how libraries and teachers used to feel about the genre (and let’s be honest, there are still those out there that hold onto this belief), after all, if someone wanted comics they could just open the Sunday funnies. But then, in 1986, something changed the way schools and libraries, and ultimately, parents approached comics: three graphic novels were released, which are to this day hailed as the greatest graphic novels of all time. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons released Watchmen, Art Spiegelman released his Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus and Frank Miller released Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Suddenly, graphic novels were seen as thought-provoking, contributions to society. They were works of art from which lessons could be drawn and history learned; they critically examined society’s past, present, and future (Sanderson, 2012).

Graphic novels don’t just serve the purpose of informing society. Using images to tell the story (rather than accompany the story), they have many storylines, similar to fiction and nonfiction: mystery, action, adventure, romance, horror, suspense, historical fiction, and nonfiction. And in addition to educating the reader, they can also allow readers to escape while enhancing their reading comprehension, especially among youth (National Council of Teachers of English, 2005).

Graphic novels are not just for children, though. In recent years, the genre has expanded to include many works that will be of interest to adults, and some titles cross generations. Below are ten recommendations with reviews, separated by a readers’ interest. This list is by no means exhaustive or representative of all reader characteristics.

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51KQa0B4+DL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_ Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned, Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, & José Marzán, Jr., DC Comics, 2002, $14.99 paper, ISBN 9781563899805
Reviewed by Tina Reid

It’s 2002 and anything with a Y chromosome has been eradicated due to a mysterious plague … except for Yorick and his pet monkey. His mother is assisting the new president, his sister is missing, and he only wants one thing: to be reunited with his girlfriend… in Australia. The president has other plans for him. Who is going to repopulate the planet, after all? In this fast-paced series opener, Brian K. Vaughn, combined with the art of Pia Guerra and José Marzán, Jr., creates a terrifying world featuring extremist groups such as the Amazons… and female Republicans trying to overthrow the democratic system. This modern-era apocalyptic tale is part-thriller, part-mystery, and rooted in science fiction; Y: The Last Man is a quintessential read for adult science fiction lovers.

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Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, Damian Duffy, Octavia E. Butler, & John Jennings, Abrams ComicArts, 2017, $24.95 cloth, ISBN 9781419709470
Reviewed by Tina Reid

Damien Duffy and John Jennings recreate Octavia E. Butler’s timeless genre-blending Kindred in this beautiful graphic novel. The story takes place in the 1970s with Dana, an African American woman, and her Caucasian husband in California. After moving to a new apartment, Dana is unwillingly thrown back in time to Antebellum Maryland where she must face (and experience first-hand) the reality of slavery and find ways to survive and return back to her husband. On each trip into the past, Dana must save Rufus, the son of the plantation owner. Jennings illustrations, with Duffy’s words, tell a new tale; the images are raw and evoke new emotions for those unfamiliar with the story. The downfall of this adaptation is that it is missing the eloquence Butler created. Additionally, the story feels rushed; anyone who has read the poignant Kindred will certainly notice missing elements such as the more intimate conversations between Dana and her husband. Where it lacks in story, it makes up in illustration, which speaks slightly louder than the text. As Dana travels between time periods, the gritty illustrations change from muted colors (present) to vivid colors (past), visually demonstrating how vibrant and painful the past is for present-day African Americans. Adult fans of science fiction, fantasy, or historical fiction will be caught up in the story of Dana.


March: Book One, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell, Top Shelf Productions, 2013, $14.95 paper, ISBN 9781603093002
Reviewed by Tina Reid

On the day of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential inauguration, Representative John Lewis is called upon to share his first-hand experience of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Lewis, in collaboration with his assistant, Andrew Aydin, along with Nate Powell, takes readers back to his childhood where he acted as a preacher to his farm chickens and progresses to his meeting of Martin Luther King, Jr., his participation in the  Nashville sit-ins and also, a defining moment of the movement: the march on Selma. Through detailed black and white panels, March explains the uncomfortable preparation necessary behind the sit-ins. Lewis provides a refreshing, behind-the-scenes look at one of the most volatile times in the history of the United States and leaves readers with not only the hope that defined Obama’s campaign but also a sense of urgency to participate in the American democratic process. This first book in a trilogy is suitable for teen and adult history buffs alike.

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resizedfevermoon Fever Moon: A Graphic Novel, Karen Marie Moning, David Lawrence, Al Rio, & Cliff Richards, Del Ray Books, 2012, $25.00 paper, ISBN 9780345525482
Reviewed by Tina Reid

In Dublin, Ireland, the line between Fae and human worlds no longer exists. Demons, called Unseelies, hunt humans, wreaking havoc on the world. Mac, possessing one of only two known weapons that kill Unseelies spends her evenings bringing justice to the streets of Dublin. After two of her friends in up disfigured and in a coma, Mac and her partner take on a mysterious Unseelie that harvests its victim’s body parts. In this full-color, vibrant graphic novel based on the Fever series by Moning, readers will experience dark scenes of lust, sex, and violence that are action-packed. Though difficult to follow at first, Fever Moon gives readers a wild ride and a fast-paced introduction to Moning’s risqué work that will have them craving more by the last panel.


True Blood: Tainted Love coverTrue Blood 2: Tainted Love, Marc Andreyko, Michael McMillian, and Stephen Molnar, IDW Publishing, 2011,  $24.99 cloth, ISBN 9781613770191
Reviewed by Tina Reid

Fans of HBO’s hit series True Blood will fall in love True Blood: Tainted Love which features a familiar plotline within the series. Newbie vampire Jess drinks tainted True Blood, a brand of synthetic blood, at a faux prom thrown for her by her human and supernatural friends. The blood taps into her natural instincts causing Jess to turn savage, killing anything in sight. While Bill, Tara, Sam, and Hoyt work together to find and subdue Jess, Eric and Sookie begin seeking answers to who and what tainted the True Blood that has caused a deadly epidemic among vampires. True Blood: Tainted Love follows the television storyline closely and is featured in remarkably realistic, full-color images. Fans will be comforted by the similarity between the television actors and the book characters. This volume can be read without reading the first volume but those new to the series may have questions, as Sookie’s telepathy and Sam’s were-animal tendencies go unexplained, though this will not hinder the new reader’s experience of the Bon Temps world. True Blood: Tainted Love is recommended for mature audiences due to excessive gore and violence.

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51fqXn7FapL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Jane Eyere: The Graphic Novel, Charlotte Bronte, Amy Corzine, Clive Bryant, & John M. Burns, Classic Comics Ltd., 2008, $16.95 paper, ISBN 9781906332471
Reviewed by Tina Reid 

Orphaned and left with her Aunt and Uncle Reed, Jane Eyre spends the first years of her life in a cruel home following the death of Uncle Reed. At the age of ten, Mrs. Reed banishes Jane to charity school for girls where humiliation and hunger is the norm until more sympathetic members of society take over the school. Jane spends the next eight years at the school, the last two as a teacher until she places an advertisement for her services as a governess. At Thornfield, Jane finally experiences a life without want; she has a friend in Mrs. Fairfax, the mansion housekeeper, a responsibility for the education of little Adèle, and a companion in Mr. Rochester. But mystery and life have a way of shaking up Jane’s world, making her question if things are too good to be true. The graphic novel is beautifully illustrated but somewhat verbose. At any rate, Jane Eyre is a colorful, abridged adaptation of Brontë’s classic novel that will please fans of Brontë as well as introduce teens and adults to the magic and romance of classic nineteenth-century literature.

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deadpoolDeadpool, Vol. 1: Dead Presidents, Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan, & Tony Moore, Marvel, 2012, $15.99 paper, ISBN 9780785166801
Reviewed by Tina Reid

The Merc with a Mouth, he calls himself. Wade Wilson, or Deadpool, a disfigured mouthy human with the ability to heal at rapid speeds, is contacted by S.H.I.E.L.D. to assist with a major job – one so large and complicated that even the Avengers are getting toasted: reigning in a legion of villain dead United States presidents. Or maybe S.H.I.E.L.D. did not want to deal with the PR nightmare that is Captain America giving a right-hook to George Washington. Yes, that is correct, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan (along with dozens of others) have been summoned from the dead and are causing mass causalities. But why? In Deadpool, Volume 1: Dead Presidents, Deadpool comically takes on these zombie presidents with the help of ghostly Benjamin Franklin while seeking the mastermind behind the havoc. Deadpool is known to break the fourth wall, as any fans of the film are already aware, and this is demonstrated very clearly in the comic. If you are not a fan of vulgarity, then Deadpool is not for you. Juvenile humor is definitively Deadpool and to do without it would be an injustice to the series. If you can ignore (or embrace) the sex jokes and self-deprecating humor, the graphic novel will leave you laughing… and craving more!


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Ms. Marvel: No Normal, G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona, Marvel, 2014, $15.99 paper, ISBN 9780785190219
Reviewed by Tina Reid

What would you do if you were a teenager… and one night you suddenly became a superhero? No, this isn’t SpiderMan but the concept is the same. Kamala Khan is a teenage Jersey girl who goes to a party normal and after a sudden fog wakes up as her favorite superhero, Captain Marvel, Reincarnated. Her Pakistani features are replaced with pale skin and blonde hair and she has gained superpowers, the ability to grow and shrink her body, ala Alice in Wonderland. As the story progresses, Khan struggles with her identity (why isn’t she herself), the expectations set forth by her parents and the Islamic faith, as well as the everyday teenager problems, such as friendship, boys, school, and secrets. Wilson and Alphona deliver a refreshing superheroine who happens to be the first Muslim character to lead her own graphic novel, a welcome addition to the Marvel family. The story contains violence but is absent of hardcore gore and violence and is overall wholesome. Kamala Khan is a highly relatable character that will speak to teenagers and long-time adult superhero fans, alike.

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9781101871515My Brother’s Husband: Volume 1, Gengoroh Tagame, Pantheon, 2017, $24.95 cloth, ISBN 9781101871515
Reviewed by Tina Reid

 Yaichi is a stay-at-home dad to his daughter, Yana. Mike Flanagan is the Canadian widow of Yaichi’s twin brother, Ryōji, with whom Yaichi had little contact. Mike has come to Japan after Ryōji’s death to pay respects to Yaichi and Kana, who had no idea he father had a twin brother, who was married to a man. Mike’s presence presents a great deal of excitement for Yana but uncertainty and plenty of uncomfortable moments for Yaichi who is quickly learning how little he knew his twin brother… and himself. My Brother’s Husband is a beautiful thought-provoking examination of cultural norms and values, homophobia, death, grief, as well as other themes such as parenting and divorce, and identity. Not a graphic novel but actually a manga, My Brother’s Husband is presented in black-and-white panels and reads like a typical manga, back to front, right to left. Those interested in LGBTQIA studies and literature will appreciate the honesty and positive story that is presented.My Brother’s Husband is genuine and makes waves in the fight against homophobia by displaying incredible humanistic elements.


41JgMUgEL6L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag, A. K. Summers, Soft Skull Press, 2017, $17.95 paper, ISBN 9781593765408
Reviewed by Tina Reid

Teek Thomasson is a thirty-something lesbian who identifies as butch. As she ages, she starts to contemplate pregnancy with her partner Vee. A child of adoption, it is important to Teek that the child be biologically hers. One of her long-time friends, K.D. (known donor), agrees to be the sperm donor and so, Vee artificially inseminates Teek with K.D.’s sperm. Pregnant Butch follows Teek through her pre-pregnancy days and 41 weeks of pregnancy. Summer explores what it is like for a butch woman to experience pregnancy, a unique experience for Teek as she, even in New York City, has few resources or friends to consult.  Because of the unfamiliarity of a pregnant butch woman, society responds to Teek and Vee in various ways: disgust, confusion, assumption that the couple would adopt. Summers’ Pregnant Butch is a fictionalized narrative of her own pregnancy and as such, the stories are rooted in truth, the fears, and concerns real. The graphic novel humorously examines traditional dichotomies of gender – masculinity and femininity – in relation to pregnancy through black and white panels that are often graphic but also tells a sobering tale of a lesser-known LGBTQIA experience.


References:

Alphona, A. (2014). Ms. Marvel book cover. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Ms-Marvel-1-No-Normal/dp/078519021X

Burns, J. M. (2008). Jane Eyre book cover. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Eyre-Graphic-Novel-Classical/dp/1907127410

Corroney, J. (2011). True blood, vol. 2 book cover. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/True-Blood-2-Tainted-Love/dp/1613770197/ref=bseries_primary_1_1613770197

Guerra, P. (2002). Y: The last man book cover. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Last-Man-Vol-Unmanned/dp/1563899809

Jennings, J. (2017). Kindred book cover. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Kindred-Graphic-Adaptation-Damian-Duffy/dp/141970947X

Moore, T. (2012). Deadpool, Vol.1 book cover. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Deadpool-Vol-1-Dead-Presidents/dp/0785166807

National Council of Teachers of English. (2005). Using comics and graphic novels in the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.ncte.org/magazine/archives/122031

Powell, N. (2012). March book cover. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/March-Book-One-John-Lewis/dp/1603093001

Rio, A. & Richards, C. (2012). Fever moon book cover. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Fever-Graphic-Novel-Karen-Moning/dp/0345525485

Sanderson, P. (2012, August 31). 1986, the year that changed comics: Introduction. Retrieved from http://sequart.org/magazine/15257/1986-the-year-that-changed-comics-introduction-part-1/

Summers, A. K. (2017). Pregnant butch book cover. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Pregnant-Butch-Nine-Months-Spent/dp/1593765401

Tagame, G. (2017). My brother’s husband book cover. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Brothers-Husband-Pantheon-Graphic-Novels/dp/1101871512

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Literary Fiction, with Reviews!

This semester I am enrolled in an Adult Reading Materials course at UNT where I have to read 2 books a week across various genres and then write book reviews. The information in this and future posts come directly from my assignments.

Reviews

A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Bachman, Simon & Schuster, 2012, $16.00 paper, ISBN 978147673802

a-man-called-ove-9781476738024_hr.jpg“People say Ove saw the world in black and white.” Orphaned at age 16 and used to be alone, Ove moved along in life a principled man – right was right and wrong was wrong. And then, one day, Sonja crossed his path. Sonja “…was color. All the color he had.” Ove and Sonja, complete opposites, completed each other. But when Sonja passes, he ceases to know how to exist and decides he must join her in the afterlife. His post-Sonja days are spent planning and trying to succeed in his suicide. Much to his dismay, his millennial neighbors (and his least favorite animal – a cat he calls the Cat Annoyance) repeatedly interrupt his plans by showing he has a purpose. Bachman travels throughout Ove’s life to craft a story about living and dying, friendship and animosity, paradigm shifts, and finally, life after death. A Man Called Ove will make young adults value their elders and help older generations understand and find the value in today’s youth and just maybe help readers discover their self-worth.

Ordinary Grace, by William Kent Krueger, Atria, 2013, $16.00 paper, ISBN 978151645859

15803059.jpgFrank Drum was 13 in the summer of 1961. Looking forward to a summer of fun, Frank and his kid brother, Jake, work every Saturday on their grandfather’s yard in order to earn money for root beer and fireworks. Their summer turns tragic early on as both children experience four separate deaths. Frank and Jake are deeply entwined in the gossip, controversy, and secrets that fill their family and small-town following the deaths. They, through eavesdropping and breaking rules, are exposed to the harsh truths and realities of the grown-up world, to the complications and contradictions in which life is too rich. Ordinary Graces, a forced-coming of age tale, is filled with life lessons, consequences, loss, and graces, such as when Jake miraculously overcomes his life-long stutter in the midst of family stress. Krueger quietly and beautifully writes about the loss of childhood innocence and death paired. He offers up an eloquent novel that is part mystery, part story-telling that will leave young adult and adult readers pondering the losses they have faced, how they were changed because of it, and the means of moving on.  As Krueger closes Ordinary Grace, he writes, “The dead are never far from us. They’re in our hearts and in our minds and in the end, all that separates us from them is a single breath, one final puff of air.” This final passage illustrates that death does not mean the loss of memories and that through grace, we are still alive.

Literary Fiction

Until recently, I didn’t understand what was meant by the term literary fiction. I was aware of the different genres and just simply classified the intensively detailed novels as intellectual fiction. The blog posts I stumbled across this week serve as a means of better understanding literary fiction and how the two novels I read fit into this categorization.

In a HuffPost blog, Steven Petite, writes, “Literary Fiction separates itself from Genre because it is not about escaping from reality, instead, it provides a means to better understand the world and delivers real emotional responses” (Petite, 2014). This statement perfectly describes how I felt reading Ordinary Grace and A Man Called Ove. I felt as if the characters in both works could very well exist currently – nothing seemed unbelievable – and both novels attempted to make sense of real world problems and feelings, particularly death and interpersonal relationships. In a separate HuffPost blog, an astute distinction is made about literary fiction: an emphasis is placed on complex issues while placing an emphasis on the writing, not the plot (Triska, 2013). Including the previous characteristics of literary fiction, Nathan Bransford takes the definition further. He points out that literary fiction focuses on character development and writing style. He also puts on the hat of myth-buster and argues that in good literary fiction, a plot is present and typically within the character, rather than the character taking part in the plot (Bransford, 2007). For me, that is Ove’s change over time as he is forced to interact with his outside world or, in Ordinary Grace, it’s Frank’s coming of age as he becomes privy to the real world and its harsh realities.

The Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) provides reviews of literary fiction.  LARB was particularly helpful in that as I read several of the book reviews, I was able to pick out the characteristics that make up Literary Fiction. For example, Jenny Hendrix’s review of Milan Kundera’s The Festival Insignificance immediately makes me think of A Man Called Ove when she writes, “ …the novel is peopled by lightly-traced, ordinary men leading insignificant lives concerned with largely minor things.” Just from this line, it sounds as though she is talking about Ove, however, this line, to me, evokes that the book is concerned with characters rather than action and adventure, as one could easily find in genre fiction. Hendrix later discusses another element of literary fiction – stylistic liberties. The novel she is reviewing jumps between time by the notion of the characters reminiscing. Both Ordinary Grace and A Man Called Ove play with the prose and time, as in the former the main character is recalling the events from 40 years earlier and in the latter, the book jumps back and forth in Ove’s life.

Literary fiction is not a one-size fits all genre (or is it even a genre at all). There are some similarities across works of literary fiction – such as the emphasis on characters and the very real problems they face as well as stylistic liberties the authors take – but book reviews, articles, lists, and podcasts help readers determine what kind of character or what types of problems that would like to read about. They also provide examples of other literary fiction. For example, The Booklist Reader provides the longlist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize, an award that is usually given to works of literary fiction. Some of the titles this year include Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Lincoln in the Bardodips into genre fiction, as it is historical, but what makes it literary fiction is that the novel utilizes a writing style similar to plays and incorporate real quotes. Additionally, it focuses on the heavy grief that comes with the loss of a child (Seaman, n.d.).

Another recommendation comes directly from Penguin Random House’s Literary Fiction Book List. Haruki Murakami, no stranger to difficult language, utilizes short stories to weave together the stories of lonely men (Penguin Random House, 2017).

References:

Bransford, N. (2007). What makes literary fiction literary? Retrieved from https://blog.nathanbransford.com/2007/02/what-makes-literary-fiction-literary.html

Hendrix, J. (2015). Dancing in the air. Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved from https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/dancing-in-the-air

Penguin Random House. (2017). Men with Women. Retrieved from http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/547925/men-without-women-by-haruki-murakami/

Petite, S. (2014). Literary fiction vs. Genre fiction. HuffPost. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-petite/literary-fiction-vs-genre-fiction_b_4859609.html

Ruzicka, M. (2017). 2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist Announced. Booklist Reader. Retrieved from http://www.booklistreader.com/2017/07/27/book-news/2017-man-booker-prize-longlist-announced/

Seaman, D. (n.d.). [Review of Lincoln in the Bardo]. Booklist Review. Retrieved from https://www.booklistonline.com/Lincoln-in-the-Bardo-Saunders-George/pid=8433908

Triska, Z. (2013). Literary and mainstream novels: What’s the difference? HuffPost. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/21/literary-novels-_n_3790198.html

Stepping into the World of Comics

mausI recently read The Complete Maus for my comics and graphic novel course. I attempted to read Maus I several years ago but could not find a purpose. I think I wanted to read it simply because of the acclaim but the sadness of the Holocaust kept me away. Since it was required now, I had no choice. And, I devoured it very quickly! The work is magnificent. What I enjoyed the most is how human Vladek is portrayed – an angry, curmudgeonly old man who must save, save, save.

I did not find the topic of the Holocaust to be too emotionally upsetting in Maus as I have in other works (Night or Number our Stars for example) or history books. Speigelman’s art was not as graphic as one would think when dealing with such a heavy subject – part of this could be because it was in black and white so instead of seeing red blood you saw a black puddle. Another reason could be that humans were not used in most of the graphic novel, mice rather. There were two scenes that stand out that were difficult to me. The first was when the crying children were swung against the wall and the second was when we discovered that Artie’s brother was poisoned. If you notice, though, the full scene of the children being killed (against the wall) was not presented. It almost looks as though it was erased.

 

I have also read Deadpool Vol. 1: Dead Presidents (three stars), The Watchmen (four stars), and many years ago I read Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (five stars). Funhome, assigned in my history of sexuality in the U.S. course, was the first graphic novel I ever read and really stuck with me. When I was still working in the public library, a teenage girl approached me looking for graphic novels based on true stories. Her mother was with her and this was the first book that came to mind.

All three of these titles remind me history (even though Deadpool is tongue-in-cheek/slapstick humor) and how graphic novels can frequently be utilized in the classroom. Librarians, teachers, and, parents, please understand that there are so many benefits to using these in the classroom or letting your children read them.

  • increased vocabulary
  • increased interest in reading
  • strengthened skills (memory, sequence, understanding language, reading comprehension)
  • children with autism have the opportunity to learn about emotion through graphic novels

Teaching with Graphic Novels

Raising Super Readers: The Benefits of Comic Books and Graphic Novels

Literacy & Graphic Novels: Why There’s Nothing Wrong with Teens Reading Graphic Novels

Up next:

 

Module 10: The Sons of Liberty

51EfLeOYnuLLagos, A. & Lagos, J. (2010). The Sons of liberty. New York, NY: Random House Children’s Books.

Summary: Graham and Brody are two runaway slaves from the Sorenson Plantation. seeking the help of Benjamin Lay, the friend of Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin’s son, William, a member of the royal army discovers the boys and tricks them into becoming a science experiment where he tortures them with electricity. He leaves them for dead only to his father to find them transformed with new powers. Benjamin Franklin takes them under his wing, and with the help of Benjamin Lay, embarks on a journey to train the boys to become fighters for what readers can only imagine will become America’s independence (the story ends too soon).

Impressions: My fascination with history is what attracted me to the book and I would hope that a graphic novel such as this, though incredibly far removed from fact might spark some child’s or young adult’s interest in the subject as well. I had a few issues with the graphic novel however, aside from some hand written text that was difficult to read (it was written in a cursive font and would have been easier to read at a large size), there was a difficulty in understanding the plot. I missed a key fact in the story. At the beginning, Ben Franklin’s son (I don’t remember if he was identified at that point) is taking animals to be tested with electricity. Later, I thought his son killed two runaway slaves but it turns out he was torturing them with electricity and other scientific experiments. As I was reading, I thought Franklin had found them dead and brought them back to life with electricity, in a Frankenstein type manner. The Lagos brothers could have been more clear in stating this fact or maybe I need to go back over these two sections.

Review: Colonial America isn’t your usual locale for superheroes, but such is the case here. Graham and Brody are runaway slaves, fleeing a cruel master and his slave hunter. Before they left, they were instructed to find the abolitionist Benjamin Lay, but first they encounter none other than Benjamin Franklin. Unfortunately, his son, William, has been using his father’s discoveries in electricity to play Dr. Frankenstein and subjects the two boys to electrical experiments. After they recover, they find out that they have gained an inexplicable and ill-defined set of superpowers. Under the tutelage of the Yodalike Benjamin Lay, the boys learn about their heritage, their abilities, and the African martial art dambe, of which Lay is a master. While this unique story certainly has possibilities, its flaws far outweigh its successes. Not only does the plot verge on the nonsensical, but it also meanders, changing direction and tone, and characters come and go without resolution. The colorful computer-aided artwork is at times dramatic, but it is also often clumsy and lacking any real emotional import. Other problems include the font chosen for Benjamin Franklin’s writing, which is illegible at times. Poor execution makes this a secondary purchase at best.

Davey, D.P. (2010, July). [Review of the book The Son’s of Liberty, by A. Lagos & J. Lagos]. School Library Journal56(7), p. 106-7.

Library Uses: Since graphic novels are becoming increasingly popular, it might be fun to start a graphic novel club or have a Learn to Write Graphic Novels night at the library. An expert from the community could be invited (or we could teach ourselves or just take a shot at it!) and spend an evening or afternoon drawing panels and writing.