Oldsters who admit to learning to read with old-style comic books will recognize the worth of the best graphic novels to tempt today’s beginning readers away for a while from electronic games and to convince reluctant readers that reading can be easy and fun. Engaging cartoon cats act out in this third Binky adventure. Their encounter features a timely topic, slapstick, dry humor, wit, and no gratuitous violence. Each page contains speech and sound effects in and out of bubbles as well as explanatory statements to help readers to the point. In a plot full of surprises, Binky, a certified member of F.U.R.S.T. (Felines of the Universe Ready for Space Travel), protects his space station (home) from alien domination (bugs!). Other noteworthy 2011 Kids Can Press graphic novels for young readers include Luz Sees the Light, (8–12); Big City Otto (8–11) and The Sign of the Black Rock (9–12).
Binky Under Pressure.
Toronto, Canada: Kids Can Press, 2011 64 pp. ISBN: 9781554535040
(graphic novel, ages 7–10)
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This manga is the first in a series of stories featuring the spirited green-haired young girl, Yotsuba, whose origins are a mystery until the last volume. Humorous, silly situations involving other people often happen when this adventurous child is present. In a School Library Journal review on Amazon, the reviewer aptly dubs Yotsuba “a Japanese version of Dennis the Menace.” In drawing this manga the main point seems to be to present the central character, Yotsuba, in a comic way. Her hair is like the four-leaf clover when she is in a happy, healthy state; when she is angry, cries or gets sick, it withers up. Yotsuba makes a charming first impression; she quickly has everyone’s sympathy. In conversation, Yotsuba is not only delightfully childlike, she is honest and makes in sightful points. This comic reminds us that the importance of manga is to be found as much in the words as the pictures.
Naohiko Ueno, manga writer
Kiyohiko Azuma, Yo TSUBA&! Volume 1
(Yo TSUBA and I).
Tokyo, Japan: ADV Manga, 2005
232 pp. ISBN-10: 1413903177;
(graphic novel/manga, ages 4+)
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In druben! (On the Other Side), author Simon Schwartz tells his own biography, as well as that of his parents and grand parents, against the backdrop of the general history of the German Democratic Republic. While his father’s parents strongly believe in the state and regime, his mother’s parents remain skeptical. Coming from such different backgrounds, Simon’s parents meet at university and slowly but surely his father’s socialist convictions begin to wane. He feels increasingly monitored and patronized by the state. After long discussions, Simon’s parents decide to emigrate, even though this causes a rift between Simon’s father and his parents. Told in succinct dialogues and narrator’s comments in an episodic structure, the book expresses the parents’ dreams and longing, their fear and anger. Their mélange of feelings epitomizes that of many other GDR-citizens. The book’s visual language is as clear and multifaceted as its linguistic style:. Impressive black-and-white illustrations, drawn from various perspectives, no t only give insight into the daily life within the GDR; in an ingenious way, they also visually express the thoughts and emotions of Simon, his parents, and his grandparents. The book was shortlisted for the German Youth Literature Award 2010 in the category of nonfiction.
Trans. Clandia Söffner
[on the other Side].
Berlin: Avant-Verlag, 2009
108 pp. ISBN: 978-3-939080-37-4
(graphic novel, nonfiction, 10+)
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In the near future, a GPS prototype provides the ability to locate places and to rework deep memory and space as virtual images. A successful publicist who is going through a personal and professional crisis has the opportunity to try this psycho-navigator that leads to a mysterious place and a disturbing possibility: another way of survival...