Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie

Drawn & Quarterly, based in Montreal, Quebec, is one of the prominent independent comic companies in the world. The list of award winning authors they have published includes Chester Brown, Julie Doucet, Seth, and Chris Ware. D&Q are known for their exceptional eclectic selection of material based on artistry and literature. Many of their publications also have an international flair, which allows for a diverse collection of reading material. The 2007 publication of Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie, which is available in the YA section at Moore Memorial Public Library, is no exception.

Author Abouet was born in Abidjan, a city located on the Ivory Coast of Africa. Aya, her first graphic novel, is a fictional story based on her childhood memories in the 1970s. It reflects what was going on in the minds of teenage girls at the time, but can easily transition into modern times. There are girls with dreams of being doctors, girls who only look for love, boys who make a sport out of chasing girls, and the realities of teenage pregnancy. Although the story takes place in a country many of us have never visited, the reader easily transitions into the characters’ realities. Both the author and illustrator make the reader feel like a Yopougon local, including a brief illustrated guide regarding customs, local slang, and food recipes. Although there are serious elements to the storyline, including addressing political issues of the time, overall the story is very comedic. Oubrerie illustration style helps communicate the tone of the story.

The YA section in the library has other books published by Drawn & Quarterly, including Aya of Yop City, the sequel, Raymond Briggs’ Gentleman Jim, and Miriam Katin’s We Are on Our Own: a Memoir.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Re-Gifters by Mike Carey, Sonny Liew & Marc Hempel

Boys can really sock it to you when you have a crush on them or when facing them in a hapkido competition. Of course, the matter seems far worse when the boy you are crushing on is your hapkido opponent. Jen Dik Seong, aka Dixie, is a Korean-American high school girl living in Los Angeles’ Koreatown. Her “spiky” personality, as described by her BFF Avril, leaves something to be desired, so she manifests her frustration with the ancient martial art of hapkido. Dixie is one of the best students at her dojang, but her “ki”, or harmonious essence, is thrown off by a crush on a fellow teammate, the hot, blonde Adam. How can she possibly concentrate on hapkido, school, or anything, when her affection is unrequited?

In order to catch Adam’s attention Dixie blows her savings on his birthday present instead of paying for her entry fee for the national tournament. Naturally, trouble ensues. As the title suggests, Dixie’s gift goes on quite a gift-giving adventure. Dixie goes on quite roller coaster ride, herself, as she tries to win a boy’s affection and the hapkido tournament. Things don’t turn out as Dixie planned, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At least she found her “ki.”

Re-Gifters is one of the strongest books published by the short-lived Minx Comics, which was a division of DC Comics. It was the first graphic novel imprint designed specifically for teen girls. Other books from Minx Comics include: Token by Alisa Kwitney & Joelle Jones, The Plain Janes and Janes in Love by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg, and Good as Lily by Derek Kirk Kim & Jesse Hamm. These titles are currently available at Moore Memorial Public Library.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


During the summer months it’s easy to spend more time outside because the sun is up past 8pm and the television is usually chalk-full of reruns. However, over the past couple of years TV stations have begun to premiere new series, such as the widely successful Mad Men two seasons ago. With “American Idol”, “Gossip Girl”, “90210”, and many other teen-driven shows going on hiatus, you may be wondering what to watch on those summer evenings when you feel like staying indoors. Tonight on Fox after Chris Ryan and Adam Lambert duke it out for the “American Idol” Season 8 crown, Glee will premiere in all of its much-hyped glory.

Glee, created by Ryan Murphy (“Nip/Tuck” and “Popular”), may be television’s answer to the “High School Musical” phenomenon. The show follows an enthusiastic high school teacher, Mr. Schuester, as he tries to organize a rag-a-muffin group of students into a high-performance singing super-ensemble. (We’re talking more than just jazz hands, people.) Members of the glee club are social outcasts ridiculed by the popular crowd and hide within the solace of the group to avoid being picked on by their fellow students. Mr. Schuester’s dream to compete at the national singing competition ruffles feathers, especially after he convinces the football quarterback to join the glee club. The students, along with Schuester, struggle in the face of adversity to achieve their dreams and put the glee club back on top.

The cast is full of talented faces, including several up-and-coming Broadway elite. Mr. Schuester is played by Matthew Morrison from “Hairspray,” and a few cast members from the Tony Award-winning musical, “Spring Awakening” play glee club members. Jane Lynch, from “Best in Show” and “Role Models,” provides comic relief as Coach Sue Sylvester. Other familiar faces from “Kyle X/Y,” “Nip/Tuck,” and “Ugly Betty” should provide a talented, comedic cast.

If you enjoy Glee, you should check out this Glee-like material available at Moore Memorial Public Library:

Ball Don’t Lie by Matt de la Pena
Can’t Stop the Shine by Joyce Davis
Choir Boy by Charlie Anders
Diamond (The Divas Series) by Victoria Christopher Murray
High School Musical: the essential guide by Catherine Saunders
I Love you, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn
Rebound by Bob Krech
Sleeping Freshman Never Lie by David Lubar
Street Love by Walter Dean Myers
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga

High School Musical
High School Musical 2
High School Musical 3: Senior Year
Mad Hot Ballroom
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
The Cheetah Girls: one world
Save the Last Dance
Save the Last Dance 2
Step up
Step Up 2: the streets
Stomp the Yard

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

Jane is forced to relocate to the suburbs of Kent Waters by her parents after a bomb attack in Metro City. The bomb attack and sudden relocation have left Jane traumatized and searching for meaning in her young world. After a dramatic self-imposed makeover and deliberately shunning the popular girls at her new high school, Jane works to befriend a group of outcasts all named Jane. One day while walking through the suburban streets Jane has an epiphany, which not only solidifies her friendship with the Janes, but also inspires her to find meaning in this new life forced upon her.

The Janes form a group called P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art in Neighborhoods), which sparks quite a controversy among those living in Kent Waters. The girls create beautiful public art throughout the neighborhoods using guerrilla tactics, which the local police call “art attacks.” P.L.A.I.N.s actions, although not fully understood at first, eventually receive positive reaction. The public displays created by P.L.A.I.N not only fill the Janes with confidence, but also inspire the local teenagers to find something beautiful in their lives.

For those who love graphic novels, the illustrations by Rugg are not drawn in your typical manga or comic book style. The drawings are simpler like those found in alternative graphic novels by Jeffrey Brown (which can also be found at your local library). They contribute well, as they don’t overshadow a story that explores a need to belong and the creative outlets necessary in order to survive those pesky teenage years.

Other books by Castellucci available at Moore Memorial Public Library:
Janes in Love (sequel to Plain Janes with Rugg)
The Queen of Cool

Boy Proof

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins, author of the Underland Chronicles, a children’s fantasy series, has turned her hand to young adult fiction in the Hunger Games, the first of a futuristic trilogy that has already been snapped up by Lionsgate for its movie rights. The book’s heroine is Katniss, a 16 year old who lives in what used to be the United States but is now Panem, a country which consists of twelve “districts” under the absolute control of the Capitol city. There was an attempted rebellion by the districts in the past against the Capitol, which was unsuccessful. As a punishment and a deterrent for such future efforts, a televised battle to the death takes place every year, between young contestants chosen by lot from each district. These battles are staged like our reality television shows (except that their dazzling technological effects are way ahead of what we can do today).
Some of the districts are poorer than others, and Katniss comes from the poorest one. Although technically the richer contestants are better-fed and trained in combat, Katniss has fed her family by hunting, which has given her an edge in survival skills. You are immediately introduced into Katniss’ world, watching her forage for game in the woods next to her district, and the details of the society are easily explained and fit into the action. The lottery for choosing the candidates is one of the first events, yet Collins’ skill is such that you are already sharing Katniss’ apprehension and fear as it takes place. The novel is well-paced, with surprises and plot twists next to passages relating Katniss’ reactions to both the physical and the emotional challenges. 'Who will survive' is the hook that keeps you reading, yet the hook is stronger from the relationships that Katniss has with the other contestants, and how they are played out. This book has been recommended for girls and boys as well as adults, with special notice for boys who are reluctant readers!