January 14th, 2008

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Cybils graphic novel nominees, take 2

Most of the following titles could be classified as fantasy, though the first of the bunch,



Sean Tan's The Arrival, uses fantastic imagery to explore the very real experience of coming to a new culture. Kelly Fineman has a good review here, with some sample images from the story.
I *loved* this book, and often come back to pore over the richly symbolic and moody images. I found that Tan's description (click on cover for "The Arrival") of how he approached the artwork and story added a lot to my understanding of the book and confirmed some suspicions about his influences. His work is so vivid and deep-- I can't wait to see what his next project will be!





The graphic version of Artemis Fowl does a nice job of illustrating the first volume of the popular novel series. Longtime readers will enjoy the full color version of the story, and readers unfamiliar with the books will be drawn into Artemis's shadowy world of espionage and magic, and want to read more.


I was delighted to discover the Babymouse books as part of the Cybils reading process.
Camp Babymouse is the title nominated this year. I think most kids could identify with Babymouse's fantasies of being the best camper ever, and with the hilarious mistakes she makes as she tries to achieve this goal. Babymouse reminds me a lot of Calvin (Calvin and Hobbes)... which means I need to find and read the rest of the books in this series!


In the graphic novelization of Rod Espinosa's The Courageous Princess, Princess Mabelrose is happy with her life--until she attends a ball in a neighboring kingdom and learns just how small and unhip her own kingdom is. After this opening, you might think she was going to find her courage by proving herself to all the richer and prettier princesses... but you would be wrong.
When a dragon kidnaps Mabelrose and holds her for ransom in his faraway castle, the princess takes matters into her own hands and escapes from his hopelessly inescapable domain--and that is where the adventure really begins. A vividly realized world, charming characters and an unpredictable, interesting plot make this a great read for all ages.




I was very happy, but not a bit surprised to see Flight Volume 4 on the list of nominated titles.
Sometime last year, I discovered Flight 3, reviewed here by our own Gina Ruiz.
The cover art by Kazu Kibuishi floored me, and I decided that, whatever the book might contain, I had to own it so I could stare at the cover more conveniently. I was delighted to discover that it was just as good the whole way through--chock full of offerings from gifted illustrators and writers.
Likewise, Flight 4 has something for everyone. Flight 3 fans will be happy to see some familiar faces,and a myriad of beautifully crafted new stories, full of depth and life. The volume is consistently high in quality throughout; each story has a well realized visual world, strong characters, and tight and compelling storytelling. Readers new to graphic novels will find here many reasons to read more
in this genre.



I think what I loved most about Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars were the moody images. I had a bit harder time working out the story-- I suspect that this is one where reading the original novel would help a lot. I did locate an interview in which Frank Beddor talks about this book.


The Professor's Daughter by Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guilbert is a delightful tale on so many levels. Here I will defer to Elizabeth Bird's excellent review in School and Library Journal to give you the best reasons for reading this story. For myself, I loved the fantastic nature of the pairing (you could fall in love with a mummy? Really?), the crazy family relationships, and the happy ending.



I first encountered Robot Dreams in a glowing review by Kelly Fineman. Although I believe this made our list for the younger crowd, this story is very much an all ages tale. Adults may even have more reason to love it, as broken relationships and rebuilding are such strong themes here. One would hope that younger readers might remember its lessons of continuity and optimism when they come to breaking points in their own lives.



Rocketo Vol. 2 was a bit confusing to me at the outset-- I hadn't read Rocketo one, and the world of Rocketo is both very unusual and very detailed. Fortunately for me, there were some good pages of basic information included in the volume, and once I knew what was going on, I enjoyed it thoroughly. While searching for a good cover image to show you here, I discovered this excellent review by Matthew Brady.



Twisted journeys: Captured by Pirates ...What can I say about the twisted journeys series? I LOVED this! When I was a kid, the choose your own adventure books were just coming out, and I spent many happy hours trying out various alternatives in strange and fantastical worlds. Fortunately, I read fast, because my oldest(10 years old) snagged the book as soon as I put it down, and didn't let go of it until he went to get a glass of water and his 8 year old)sister spirited it off to her own room. The 6 year old isn't quite reading at that level yet, but he grabs it when he can just to look at the pictures. All in all, I would say it was a success. But if you don't believe me, or you want to read more reasons you should find a copy, see what Graphic Classroom had to say.

While there were other books worth reading on our list, I'm sorry to say that I was not able to locate copies, and so, can't offer any input. However, tomorrow I'll be looking at another category of story that I discovered during this year's Cybils process-- one that I believe deserves its own genre classification.

That is: the hybrid, or illustrated novel.

See the Cybils blog for more information on all of these titles and more--

Winners will be announced of February 14th!


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