Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Great Graphic Novels for Teens

This past weekend and early this week, librarians from across the country met in Dallas to talk books and libraries. YALSA (the Young Adult Library Association) releases committee created lists on materials published in the past year that are for teens. There's the Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers List, the Best Fiction for Young Adults List, and the Great Graphic Novels for Teens list that I use every year to pick up the handful of titles that I may have missed while ordering.

This year's Great Graphic Novels list left me feeling rather blah about the list. It's not that it's a bad list, because it is a good list of quality graphic novels. It just isn't a list people should order willy nilly from since it doesn't feel it took popularity into consideration at all which teen appeal is part of the criteria for the inclusion on the list. Maybe I'm being too hard on the list--maybe the most popular graphic novels of 2011 weren't nominated. Maybe the committee decided not to consider books from the middle of a series. I don't know. I wasn't on the committee. All I know is that if I ordered the vast majority of these titles, I'd be weeding them out of my library system in two years with very little if any circulations.

Now that I've vented--I thought I'd share the titles from the list we do own and think will have appeal--as well as gave you some of the comments that my teens in the Ani-Manga Club made about the titles in general.

First up--Gandhi: A Manga Biography by Kazuki Ebine. When I mentioned this title--the comments were: Who is he? Is he Indian? Was he Buddha? Weirdly enough they were flummoxed by the idea of nonfiction manga.

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani. The synopsis provided by YALSA reads "The life and times of the world's smartest man." One teen's response was "I thought Sheldon Cooper was the smartest man alive." (FYI--Sheldon Cooper is a character on the Big Bang Theory)

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol. All about a girl who befriends a ghost at her school. This was one of the titles picked up and browsed through by a teen at yesterday's meeting.

Laddertop by Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card. A manga style space school story. I thought it might have some appeal to the teens in the program, but not really. I don't think it was the artwork, but more my teens weren't into the whole space school idea.

Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge. New girl in town Paige uses her sketchbook to make sense of her new life. This one was also picked up at the program to take home.

Blue Exorcist by Kazue Kato. Finally a manga that actually is popular on this list!!! Uber popular, this is a great action shonen title.

Mangaman by Barry Lyga and Colleen Doran. Basic premise: manga character falls into the real world and tries to survive the typical American high school life. I wanted to like it, but as one teen told me, "The artwork is really busy."

Bride's Story by Kaoru Mori. I love this one, but the teen appeal is lacking in it. Seriously how many teens do you know really want to read a book about a 19th century arranged marriage?

Axe Cop by Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle. This is what happens when an artist asks his young brother what the story should be--an axe wielding cop with a dinosaur sidekick. This one was passed around by several of the guys in the ani-manga club yesterday.

Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. This gentle story is about a boy who wants to be a girl and a girl who wants to be a boy. Personally, I haven't read another book that is so well done in it's depiction. But the teens in my group called it "Boring!" :(

Bad Island by Doug TenNapel. Family vacation becomes a shipwreck survival story. Bold colorful artwork stood out to the teens yesterday.

Bake Sale by Sara Varon. Cupcake and his best friend Eggplant run a bakery together. This is a fun title, but feels young to me.

Ruse: The Victorian Guide to Murder by Mark Waid. This is a reissue of a long out of print detective story that I adored when it first came out. Think Sherlock Holmes with a female assistant who's smart and hiding special powers. I think more teens will find this one since the Sherlock Holmes films have been popular.

So that's just a handful of the titles. Next up the Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers. I always end up having issues with them too! :)

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