Hiya all! It’s Sarah!
Welcome to Mock Monday: Printz Award. For anyone not familiar with the Printz Award it is an award given by the American Library Association for the best example of teen literature from the previous year. You can find more information here. Here are my graphic novel themed selections for this month:
Author: Mike Curato
Aidan is preparing to transition from middle school to public high school. The guys at Aidan’s Catholic Middle School were constantly putting him down and making fun of him for being gay, though Aidan hates guys because they suck…basically. The only time Aidan feels confident and happy is when he is away camping with his summer friends. Things become more challenging in the summer though because Aidan finds that he is developing a crush on his bunkmate. As other guys begin to tease him more and more, Aidan sinks further into a depression. Aidan will need to decide if he will let others continue to put him down or allow those comments to shape who he is.
This felt like the graphic novel version of Brave Face. I thought it was well-done and Aidan felt extremely realistic. I loved the pairing of the black and white illustrations with pops of orange color. The story feels true to life. The narrative voice is strong and is enhanced by the format selected; graphic novel. The Printz committee does tend to recognize books with socially important issues, such as challenges of the lgbtqia community. This novel takes on microaggressions and toxic masculinity from an under-represented voice. This sparks new conversations about contemporary society.
Title: Banned Book Club
Authors/ Illustrators: Kim Hyun Sook, Ko Hyung-Ju and Ryan Estrada
Set in the 1980s South Korea, Kim Hyun Sook is beginning college amid political unrest. She just wants to get an education to have a better future. However, as she interacts with other students and learns more about the world around her, she begins to question the status quo. After befriending a guy at school, she is introduced to an underground book club that reads banned books. These are dangerous actions, but they are necessary to make changes.
This nonfiction historical graphic novel will expose readers to a time in the world’s past that is not something extensively covered in history class. Throughout time and cultures, people have subversively fought against oppressive regimes and this novel focuses on those issues in Korea. This socially conscious story gives readers the ability to see themselves in the past in another culture, when it comes to our own state of government. The Printz committee does not shy away from this controversial issues, but instead embraces them. This novel successfully bridges the divide between a regular teen and activist. While the writing and illustrations are well done, it is the subject that truly pushes this book to be in the mock Printz running.
Title: Dancing at the Pity Party
Author: Tyler Feder
Tyler’s mom dies of Cancer while she is a sophomore at college. Tyler navigates the treacherous path of watching her mother die and then dealing with the grieving process. She walks the reader through her layered relationship with her mother and the struggles she has keeping her mother’s spirit alive after her death. She takes on the platitudes and empty emotions that our culture emits after a death. She provides a space for real grief in the laughing in pain to the crying buckets. While the author is not avidly religious, she does provide insight into the Jewish grieving process and traditions.
The writing in this book stands firmly on its own. However, the added bonus of the illustrations allow readers to connect with Tyler’s mom in a way that she becomes part of their own family. While the author doesn’t speak for everyone who is experiencing grief, her work encapsulates a very real personal experience that is easy to relate to. I loved how she combined words and that she was able to make characters tangible.