The Book Jam Blog
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Graphic novels and non-fiction books are growing in popularity and importance. We want to use this post to honor two excellent graphic books we were lucky enough to hear about. We hope you enjoy our reviews and that they lead you to these two books, and then to many others in this genre.
And perhaps this post will even lead you to learn more about The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) located in nearby White River Junction, Vermont. They are creatively educating the next generation of graphic novelists. Check out the CCS website for upcoming events, classes, and degree programs.
Guts by Raina Telgemeier (2019): It is no secret many people in America experience anxiety and that these feelings are something that children in our society are struggling with more and more. In Ms. Telgemeier's fifth graphic novel aimed at the elementary and middle school set, she addresses this important topic in an accessible way. Her drawings are colorful (with friendly hues of purple, green, red and tilde) and they pull readers quickly into a story about fourth grader Riana who is increasingly experiencing puzzling stomach issues and worry about school. This character's experiences are based heavily on Ms. Telgemeier's own.
I immediately wanted to read this book after seeing Scott Stossel's recent review of it in The New York Times. He was so moved by this graphic novel hat he brought a copy of it to his own therapy session. He wanted to show it to his own counselor as he felt that it more accurately captured what it was like to experience a panic attack that almost anything he had ever read (including Freud, Brene Brown and Tara Brach). I can understand why he was so affected by this work.
Guts does an excellent job of de-stigmatizing counseling. Raina's therapist respects her autonomy and welfare while working in a respectful partnership with her parents. Guts also subtly and non-judgmentally explores issues such as sibling rivalry, germ-phobia, puberty, mean girls, and fragile adolescent friendships.
From what I hear, copies of Guts are selling as quickly as they are re-shelved at the Norwich Bookstore. Ms. Telgemeier also has a devoted following young readers at our local library. When she holds a reading, supposedly she draws upwards of 1,000 fans. I am so grateful to have been introduced to her work. It is a valuable resource for people of all ages. ~ Lisa Cadow
This Is What Democracy Looks Like by Dan Nott, with help from James Sturm, Michelle Ollie and the Center for Cartoon Studies (2019): With this second review, we are leaping from traumas of the body to democracy. Hmmm, we will try not to think too hard about what this transition says about our world today. A quick note, in reviewing this book, we are straying a bit and linking directly to the authors at the Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS), not an indie bookstore. We link that way because currently CCS is the best way to find this book. We review this book now, because we believe is important to immediately spread the word about this important comic that CCS created to help all of us be better informed participants in our democracy.
Designed for teens, using colorful illustrations and on-point language, This Is What Democracy Looks Like describes what democracy is and how it is supposed to work. This Is What Democracy Looks Like helps provide critical context and information to move readers beyond politicians' personalities and specific election cycles concerns. And since we are in the midst of a Presidential election cycle, with so much attention is focused on personalities of the politicians and the drama of their words and deeds and mis-steps, this book is a breath of fresh air. Bonus -- CCS also created a free downloadable teacher's guide, linked to the National Council for the Social Studies's common core state standards, for those who works with our teens.
According to CCS, the book's goal is to help students be empowered, informed, and civic minded. Our goal is to help more students, teachers, and readers find this book. ~ Lisa Christie