Sunday, June 4, 2017

Some Girl Power beach reads

I picked up this graphic novel because it reminded me of Newsies. It is a newsie, an orphan, but it's a she who disguises herself as a he because she is worried that people will not buy papers from a girl. It seems like it would take place in the late 19th or early 20th century, but it's actually kind of a futuristic story. It takes place while the world is at war (a Grand War) and Blue meets a genius inventor who has created flying war machine. The inspiration is historical, the execution is steampunk, and the drawing style is manga-inspired. Definitely not three aspects that would be expected in one combination, but Blue's feminist ideals and the classic tenets of friendship and loyalty make this an enjoyable and accessible read.

This collection of poems, shorts stories and cartoons is a delightful little read. With contributing authors such as Raina Telgemeier, Cece Bell, Rita Williams-Garcia, Libba Bray, and more, you know you're going to be getting some genuine sentiments mixed with humor and just a tiny pinch of bittersweet. I think my favorite portion is the one titled "A Public Service Announcement About Your Period from Sarah T. Wrigley, Age 12 3/4."

"Because tampons and maxi/mini pads come in pastel boxes that are covered in hearts or flowers or stars- What do our periods have to do with Valentine's Day and a florist's shop? When I am the President of Periods, I'm going to design cool boxes: skulls. Jet packs. Wonder Woman. Bikes. Pizza. An octopus wearing a monocle. I mean, if you could choose between a weird pastel flower or an octopus wearing a monocle, which would you choose?"

I'd been meaning to read this book since we first added it to the collection. Early women's rights pioneers have always been one of my main historical interests. This middle-grade non-fiction book is a brief biography of journalist Nellie Bly, and focuses on her name-making piece of writing in which she pretended to have amnesia in order to be admitted to Bellevue Hospital. Gathering her observations from within, she was released into the custody of "friends" (actually her employer, who had arranged this with her) and exposed the conditions and treatment that patients endured, prompting reform efforts by physicians and public charities.

This is one of the most beautiful books I've read in a while:
Mimi moves to Vermont from Berkeley, CA. It's the winter of 1969, and Vermont is White. White with a capital W because not only is the ground covered in snow, but her predominately white new town is utterly confused by her family: a Japanese mother, a black father, and an intelligent young woman who wants to talk more about space missions than anything else. It's beautiful in the casual way it depicts multi-cultural families; they're not a sideshow, they're just ordinary people. But this historical fiction novel in verse is beautiful in its writing:

"The snow glows lilac 
as we step on its crust, 
guided by faint starlight."

It's June, but those words make me long for winter again.

I had to save the best for last:

I didn't read this graphic novel- I devoured it. The same way I devoured Smile some years ago. I was so hungry for another graphic memoir that rang true to my spirit and experiences that I read it in one sitting. I wanted to read it all, and yet I dreaded that each page I read was bringing me closer to the end.

Author Shannon Hale recounts her elementary years, and the trials and tribulations of friendship.  Throughout her life, she's heard the same exasperated sighs from her parents, siblings, schoolmates: "you're too sensitive" "Why don't you just get over it?" etc. She cried a lot. Eventually she learned the lesson that all us "sensitive" kids do at some point:

"Sometimes if you stare really hard and don't blink, you can dry out tears."

But rather than try to train yourself how to not cry, isn't it better to find people who don't make you want to cry?

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