The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some great graphic novels with us. This month’s post is by Lise Dumas, Supervising Librarian, Children's and Teen Services at the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library.
I remember when I was young, visiting the Ottawa Public Library’s Alta Vista branch and going straight to their graphic novel section. My favourite graphic novels at that time were Astérix and Tintin. I still love children’s graphic novels today. They are fun, thought provoking and often beautifully rendered. For those of you who love graphic novels, the Ottawa Public Library has a wonderful collection for all ages. Here are some of my favourite children’s selections this year:
Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse
This story is about a young 11-year-old girl named Effie, who having become orphaned, goes to live in Brooklyn with her eccentric aunt Selimene and her partner Carlotta. Effie discovers that her aunts, officially acupuncturists and herbalists, have magical powers when a pop diva, Tily Shoo, comes seeking a magical skincare remedy. Effie also finds out that she has inherited the family powers and that her skills are required in effecting Tily Shoo’s cure. This book nicely sets up the cast of characters for a series. In fact, the OPL has the second book on order! I love the characters drawings in this book, they are very expressive and distinctive.
Class Act by Jerry Craft
For ages 8-12.
This sequel to Jerry Craft’s Newberry and Coretta Scott King Book Award winner New Kid does not disappoint. It is brilliantly crafted to reflect Jordan’s second year at the upper class, mostly white middle school, Riverdale Academy Day School, with his friends, Drew and Liam. Each boy faces challenges related to race, socioeconomic status, friendship, puberty, and individuality. Although the subject matter is weighty at times, the book is also funny and clever and the story honest and believable. Kids will recognize chapter title pages comically parodying popular graphic novel covers.
The Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King
Miro is happy to spend his summer staying at home and reading rare books until he meets Zia, a girl who loves mysteries and adventure. The two accidentally witness a multi tentacled sea creature attacking a sailor in the port of their sleepy town of Aurora. Zia convinces Miro to help uncover the town’s mysterious history and its unusual prosperity in hard times. For mystery fans, this is a fun tale of sea farers and marine mutants. The drawing style is reminiscent of Hergé’s Tintin.
The Good Fight by Ted Staunton
This book is based in Toronto in the 1930s. Sid and his pop live in Toronto’s immigrant slum and rent a room from the Vendetellis. Both families face hard lives facing bigotry, poverty and trying to find honest work during the great depression. Anti-Semitism is on the rise. Sid and his friend Plug get coerced into some shady activity which land them into some trouble with the police, who in turn ask for their help. The story climaxes with the real-life story of the Christie Pits Riot, in 1933, one of the worst outbreaks of ethnic violence in Canadian history. This book addresses many issues such as prejudice, the immigrant experience and taking a stand against injustice. The images are coloured in sepia tones which reflect the urban location.
When Stars are Scattered By Victoria Jamieson
Based on coauthor, Omar Mohammed’s life growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp, this book tells the story of his struggle to keep himself and his younger, non-verbal brother safe in the harsh conditions of the camp. When Omar has a chance to attend school, he is torn between wanting to go and leaving his brother alone all day with his foster mother Fatuma. The refugee’s life in the camp is divided between endless waiting in lines and the painfully slim and seemingly arbitrary chance of resettlement by the UN to the US or Canada. This is a lovingly rendered and touching story of the resilience of these boys in the face of hardship. The back of the book includes photographs of Omar and his brother as well as author’s notes. The images of the characters are sweet and brightly coloured; the starry night sky is beautifully rendered.