A Smorgasbord of Graphic Novels!

Isn’t that an awesome word?  And so much more interesting than boring old ‘buffet.’  Plus, there’s something about it that feels like it belongs in a graphic novel or comic!

First on today’s smorgasbord is a variety pack of stories, in itself.  Called ‘Explorer: the hidden doors, and edited by Kazu Kibuishi, it’s a collection of short graphic works which all include hidden doors as a central theme.

Explorer Hidden Doors cover

Gorgeous cover, yes?  That’s inspired by the very first story, which explores a near scifi world where a doctor must go through the fantastic doorway of a young patient’s mind in order to help the lost child find his way home.  It’s rich in imagery and emotion, and the stories that follow are just as creative and intriguing!  What I enjoyed most, perhaps, was how varied they were.  You’d never guess they could all belong in the same collection, or spring from the same core inspiration.  This also meant that if one wasn’t working for you, odds were good the next one would.  And, as perhaps the clincher, almost every story featured a character or characters that would fit comfortably in the #weneeddiversebooks campaign.  If you decide to pick it up, read all the way to the end–my personal favorites were probably the last two!

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Next on the menu is The Secret World of Arietty, which is based on Mary Norton’s The Borrowers, and uses images created by Hayao Miyazaki.  If that last name rings a bell, it may be because he’s also the creator of the gorgeous picture book adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle, among other things, which I’ve featured here.

Arrietty cover

The Secret World of Arrietty is a true manga, in that it is read in what feels to westerners as being back to front.  If you’re not used to reading that way, it can throw you for a momentary turn.  But, you soon adjust and the story is so lovely any discomfort recedes quickly.  Arrietty has two other advantages to recommend it.  First, it’s a bit less boy-centric than much of the comic books and manga our there, with perhaps wider appeal.  So, it’s a great story to hand a reader who’d benefit from this format but might feel put off by the other selections.  It’s also, in my opinion, a story which is actually superior in the graphic novel format.  Don’t get me wrong–I read The Borrower’s as a kid and enjoyed them.  But their world truly comes to life in the stunning illustrations Mr. Miyazaki has added, and is better fleshed out through this format and the addition of these pictures.  Every minute detail of their world can be pored over and appreciated in a way that just isn’t possible in the traditional books.  So, pick it up if you haven’t already, and enjoy a true feast!

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Last on today’s menu is a traditional comic book, The Ultimate Spiderman: Power and Responsibility.  And, it’s time for a confession from me.

Spiderman cover

You see, despite being a fan of the graphic novel format, I’m not that in to super hero comic books.  I don’t mind them, but often feel less connection to them than I do traditional novels or the graphic novels and manga I more readily reach for.  However, there are plenty of kids out there who need a bit of a boost to get them into reading, and are more likely to find it in the pages of Spiderman than they are in Arrietty.  The marvelous* thing is that Spiderman will deliver, too.  The story gets to Peter’s bite by the spider pretty quickly, then takes time developing the origin story in much more detail than the movies can.  It’s fascinating stuff.  It is slightly less middle grade than the other books I’ve featured, but probably still a pretty safe bet for the older kids, so long as they’re prepared for mild language and low level comic book violence.

So, there you have it!  A smorgasboard of graphic novels, for your reading pleasure.  Next week, we’ll welcome Steve Stewart, creator of Gen One: Children of Mars for a MMGM interview!

Stop by Shannon Messenger’s blog for all of this week’s MMGM spotlights, reviews, interviews and giveaways, and happy reading!

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*Pun intended. 😉

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