Sunday, May 26, 2013

2013 YALSA Hub Reading Challenge - Update #15

I was finally able to get my hands on some of the graphic novels on the list, so I made good progress through several titles this week. Yay! Even though we're getting close to the end, I'm not giving up on reading all 85 by the end of June.

 Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright

I had mixed feelings about Carlos and about this book. I wanted to love it.

Carlos Durante is an openly gay teen who dreams of a career as a makeup artist. He's fabulous and he knows it. While I loved his self-confidence, I didn't like the way he treated his friends. A job at the FeatureFace makeup counter at Macy's sets him on the path to achieving his dreams. Distracting him from stardom is his crush on a classmate who may or may not return his feelings, his sister's abusive boyfriend, and his mom's unexpected unemployment.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Callie is a 7th grade drama geek who loves nothing more than staging a show. She's an important member of the backstage crew and she does whatever it takes to make her set an integral part of the show. She's also crushing on a close friend who treats her like one of the guys. When twin brothers, Jesse and Justin, get involved in the school play, the drama (both on and off the stage) goes through to roof. My favorite thing about this book is the portrayal of gay characters as normal teens finding their place in life, just like everybody else. Their gayness was one part of them, but not the only, or even the most important part. 

The Silence of our Friends by Mark Long

Based on real-life events, this graphic novel is set in Houston during the late 1960s. The author's father, Jack, is the white reporter who befriends a black professor.

Jack is covering civil rights protests in the city. Larry Thompson, a professor at TSU who organized the protests, first talks to Jack because he is the only reporter to show up. The two form an unexpected friendship. When a peaceful sit-in erupts in violence, a police officer is killed and hundreds of students are arrested. Five students are put on trial for murder. Jack's actions during the protest make Larry doubt his friendship, but Jack has a chance to redeem himself during the trial of the "TSU Five."

The artwork and the story flow together perfectly. Definitely recommended for a classroom library.

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

A Flight of Angels by Rebecca Guay, Holly Black, Louise Hawes, Todd Mitchell, Alisa Kwitney, and Bill Willingham

When an injured angel falls in the forest, a group of other mythical creatures sets out to decide whether they should kill him, help him, or leave him alone. Each creature tells his or her story about who this mysterious angel might be and a faun will listen to the stories and decide the angel's fate.

The artwork is absolutely stunning and fans of the graphic novel genre should pick it up for that alone. As often happens with short story collections, the individual stories are uneven and don't all live up to the promise of the artwork. Maybe this is nitpicky, but I did wish as I was reading that the fonts had been clearer. Stylized, backwards lettering was distracting and made it hard for me to follow in some places.

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

Most of us can relate to the experience of knowing a "weird" kid in high school, that kid who looked or acted differently from other kids and just didn't fit in. That kid who we lost touch with after high school and who never really crossed our minds again. Backderf tells the story of his acquaintance (I hesitate to call it a friendship, despite the book's title) with Jeffrey Dahmer in high school. As a clueless kid, Derf didn't take the warning signs all that seriously, even when he noticed them. The adults in Jeffrey's life didn't either.

This memoir tells about Jeffrey Dahmer's life leading up to his first murder, and isn't especially gruesome, graphic, or illuminating. I was intrigued by the book's premise, but in the end, it wasn't my cup of tea. 

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