Search

Graphic Novelty²

Tag

Raina Telgemeier

Banned Books Week: Graphic Novels

Banned Books Week this year runs from September 22nd- 28th, and I’d like to take this time to shine some light on how many graphic novels have been challenged over the years. The site Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is an outstanding resource on how to fight censorship and this particular page guides you through specific cases of challenged comics and graphic novels.

As a librarian, it is important that we provide books on ALL topics for ALL people. While sometimes we might choose not to order a book or to place a book in a location that we feel is age-appropriate, patrons should have full access to books that they wish to read. I have read many challenged books, in all genres, over the years and am a better person for it. The following five graphic novels are but a few that have been challenged over the years.

Batman: The Killing Joke by  Alan Moore and  Brian Bolland

Reason challenged: Advocates rape and violence

This graphic novel about the Joker’s possible origin is considered a DC  classic, but it’s extreme violence and implied rape has put it on several banned lists.  The ambiguous ending between Joker and Batman can be interpreted in many different ways. This draw your own conclusion setup is what elevates this story and changed the way graphic novels are written and illustrated.

 

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Reason challenged: Sexual content

So what exactly is so controversial in this boldly colored YA book that it has been on the Top 10 banned list multiple times, considering it was nominated for a Harvey Award and was a Stonewall Honor Book? Well, Callie meets twin brothers who get involved in the musical, and one is gay and the other is questioning. While their level of coming out to the other students is part of the narrative, this tween-friendly book is very accepting of their identity. Author Telgemeier said, “that while she and her editors at Scholastic were very careful to make the book age-appropriate, they never considered omitting the gay characters because ‘finding your identity, whether gay or straight, is a huge part of middle school‘.” Hell yeah, it is!

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Reason challenged: Nudity, sexual content, and unsuited to age group

Author and illustrator Bechdel chronicles her childhood through her early years of college, in a non-linear memoir. The Bechdel family lived in her father’s small hometown of Beech Creek in Pennsylvania, and her father helped run the family funeral parlor. Alison and her younger brothers named the funeral parlor, Fun Home, hence the name of the novel. Her parents were trapped in a loveless marriage, with the father hiding his homosexuality, although as the years wore on his affairs became less and less discreet. Bechdel’s raw autobiography was turned into a musical play that showed on Broadway. That this book, and perhaps the play, can affect people deeply is a testament to the power of family and how it shapes us.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Reason challenged: Profanity, violent content

I first read this intimate memoir, written in graphic novel form about the author’s experience of growing up in 1980’s Iran, soon after the Paris bombings in late 2015. I felt it timely, for although the terrorists had not been from Iran, much of the Middle East was getting a bad rap. This book humanizes another culture and shows how extremism in any culture or religion is done by the few radicals against the many who suffer because of it and should be read widely for the message it conveys.

Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Reason challenged: Sexual content, anti-family, nudity, offensive language, and unsuited for age group.

An epic sci-fi adventure with liberal doses of violence and sex! We learn that the main character’s two species are at war, and their secret marriage and birth of a hybrid child are strictly forbidden.  That this love blossomed among enemies must be kept from the public, and the book’s message of enduring love is more nuanced than you would think.

Celebrating free expression is important, for “Censorship leaves us in the dark. Keep the light on!”

-Nancy

Drama

Last Friday, I skipped writing a book review and instead wrote the definitive answer to who is the best cinematic Chris (Chris Pine of course), so this week my reading public has the pleasure of two book reviews from me!

As a teen librarian, I am in charge of leading two graphic novel book clubs- one for middle school youth, and the other for high school and early college teens. This month we read Drama by Raina Telgemeier, who is a favorite of the middle school set, and this particular story was requested after we read Ghosts a few months back. As coincidence would have it, the 2017 Top 10 Challenged Book list came out the week before we read it, and Drama is on it again! Continue reading “Drama”

Guest Post on YASF Battle of the Books

As the Teen Services Coordinator at my library, I attend a networking group with other librarians who work with teens in the Chicagoland suburb area. For several years the YASF (Young Adult Services Forum) group has had a yearly Battle of the Books for YA novels, and this is my second year participating.

This year I wrote reviews for the second round of the tournament, once many of them had been eliminated. I had to read the fantasy novel The Star Touched Queen and the graphic novel Ghosts and decide which book would move to the next bracket. Who do you think I picked as the winner? Check here to find out, plus you can read a slightly more thorough review on Ghosts here.

-Nancy

stq-vs-g

 

Ghosts

ghosts
Telgemeier, Raina. Ghosts. 2016.

This magical-realism tale begins with sisters Catrina and Maya moving with their parents to northern California. Teen Catrina is devastated to move away from her friends, but her younger sister Maya’s cystic fibrosis symptoms can be alleviated in the cooler foggier environment, and as a loving sister she is willing to make the sacrifice.

The girls explore their new community, Bahía de la Luna, and find that the town has a huge yearly celebration of Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead. This ties in with the girls exploring more of their culture, as their mother was the daughter of a Mexican immigrant, and regrets that she didn’t learn more about her heritage before her mother died. Carlos, a neighboring teen, introduces them to the ghosts of the community. That the ghosts are believed in and embraced as fact seemed a natural part of the narrative, for it matched the theme of Catrina needing to come to terms with Maya’s inevitable death.

Raina Telgemeier’s art work is instantly recognizable if you are familiar with her earlier graphic novels aimed at pre-teens such as Smile, Drama and Sisters. Her style is bright bold colors and she captures the angst of youth very well. I felt the way she handled Maya’s CF was realistic and respectful, and gave readers an idea of how family’s cope under such difficult circumstances. The Day of the Dead portrayal in the book was given appropriate deference, but I’d be remiss if not pointing out there was a bit of cultural appropriation in it and it was matched to Halloween night, which is inaccurate. I ran across this thoughtful article by Debbie Reese that had a different perspective on how American Indians are portrayed in children’s literature.

Despite a few shortcomings, this beautiful evocative tale brought me to tears. Don’t let the deceptively simple illustrations fool you into thinking that the storyline is basic, for this emotionally powerful story will stay with you. Family, community, and accepting death are tied together in this winning novel.

-Nancy

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑