If you're a Goodreads user, you know that the site is helpful in keeping track of reading goals. Users can set a reading goal of X amount of books, and Goodreads will keep track of your progress. While I don't set a general number of books to read in a year, I do keep track of the types of books that I read throughout the year, and try to at least match the previous year's total + 1 title. I divide my completed reads into categories: children's (includes fiction and nonfiction), young adult (fiction and nonfiction), adult fiction and nonfiction, graphic novels/comic book collections, and diversity/disability, which includes any book that prominently features a character in a minority group, a character with a physical, mental, or emotional disability, or a nonfiction/biography title that is about some aspect of ethnic/disability history or a noted member of a minority/disability community.
Realistically, I'll probably never beat my totals in every category. However, I do pick one or two categories to improve upon each year. This year, I decided to beat my 2015 titles in young adult and graphic novels. When I looked at my Goodreads shelves at the beginning of this year, I was disappointed in the number of YA books that I completed (36; I read 38 in 2014). I also wanted to keep my graphic novel reading momentum going (14 graphic novels read in 2014; I read 30 in 2015).
Now that we're at the midyear point, I'm stoked that I've already read 38 YA novels and 34 graphic novels! As I (hopefully) hit my goals, I'll blog about my favorite titles; this week's feature is graphic novels. Although I'll definitely still continue to read graphic novels throughout the year (Raina Telgemeier has a new one out this fall, and the magnificent March trilogy concludes this fall as well), here are my favorite graphic novels that I've read so far:
Darth Vader 2: Shadows and Secrets and Showdown on Smuggler's Moon
Anyone who's known me for some time knows that I am a huge Star Wars fan. I'm a latecomer to the Star Wars books, so I've only read the recent books that have been published since the franchise was rebooted last year (working my way through Bloodline right now). While some have been so-so (Chewbacca and Lando comics), others have been fine and fun titles to read during this looooong wait for Rogue One and Episode VIII. The Darth Vader comics in particular have been outstanding. Vader is very reminiscent of A New Hope Vader: aggressive, impulsive, and furious, with only one scene hinting at his sorrow and regret over his life choices that was evident in his final scenes of Return of the Jedi. While Star Wars fans are notoriously impossible to please, fans should definitely check out Vader's comics.
Although I'm not a huge fan of Amelia Rules, I adore Jimmy Gownley's memoir, The Dumbest Idea Ever! Gownley's adolescence was a bit rocky at times; chicken pox made him miss his basketball championship series, his grades were awful, and nothing was going right with his comic book. When his friend suggested that he create a comic book about their friendship and everyday life, Jimmy thought that it was truly the dumbest idea he had ever heard. Who would want to read a comic book about an ordinary teenage kid? Through hard work and entrepreneurship, Jimmy's new comic book is a minor success (including a television appearance!). Fans of Raina Telgemeier's memoirs should definitely read this.
Hilo 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth and Hilo 2: Saving the Whole Wide World is one of my all-time favorite graphic novel series of all time (and it just came out this year). I adore this story of a young robot boy and his earth friends; the jokes are funny without incorporating too much toilet humor, no boy-girl antagonism, and the multicultural friendship is sweet and strong. The tiny similarities to E.T. continue with the inclusion of a spunky little sister who adores Hilo. OUTSTANDING, as Hilo would say.
I read and enjoyed the first Hereville graphic novel, but have not continued with the series. When I realized that I needed to work on my graphic novel and diversity reads, I immediately checked out How Mirka Met a Meteorite. Mirka is quite an unusual superhero, as she is a practicing Orthodox Jewish girl. There's tons of excitement, humor, and anticipation as Mirka deals with a meteor that has been changed into her identical twin girl, who is a perfect version of herself! Yiddish and Hebrew terms used by Mirka and her family are identified and explained in footnotes.
Little Dee and the Penguin looks sweet and adorable (which it is), but readers should know that it deals with the death of Little Dee's father. After Little Dee's father dies, Little Dee joins a group of animals who are trying to protect Penguin from being eaten by polar bears. Although the circumstances of Little Dee's loss are sad (and not dwelt upon), there is tons of humor and wacky adventures as the crew travel the world.
When I picked up Ms. Marvel: No Normal, I had no idea that Ms. Marvel is a young Muslim girl (but not orthodox). Kamala Khan is just your everyday teen girl from Jersey City--until she is gifted with supernatural powers and turns into Ms. Marvel. Kamala is super confused (who wouldn't be?), but is convinced that in order to be a true superheroine, she needs to have blonde hair, a skimpy outfit, and kicking boots. As Kamala grows into her new role, she realizes that she will be truly powerful if she stays true to herself. Teen superhero comic book fans of all backgrounds will love this, and I can't wait to read the other entries in the series.
Little superhero fans should check out Red Riding Hood, Superhero; this short and adorable comic features Little Red Riding Hood (she has a cape, so she's all set to be a superhero!) saving her grandmother, the President, from Professor Grimm and his wolf-bot. "Visual Questions" at the end prompt readers to examine the story panels closely for insight and clues.
My next target will focus on my diversity/disability reads (109 in 2015; I'm currently at 72, so more than halfway there!).
Want to extend Shark Week for a little longer? I blogged about new shark books for children on the ALSC blog.
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library