Black Panther

Cover image for Black Panther 1.

Title: Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1

Author/Artists: Ta-Nehisi Coates/Brian Stelfreeze

Summary: Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Upon returning to Wakanda, King T’Challa faces a challenge that he had never anticipated: An uprising of the people. He is not sure if he has the ability to quell the unrest shaking the technologically advanced African nation, and neither are his team of advisors, who are still reeling from the death of T’Challa’s sister Shuri, assassinated while holding the throne on his behalf. With threats both intellectual and supernatural emerging from all corners, including by some disillusioned members of the Dora Milaje, his elite corps of female guards, can T’Challa redeem himself and bring his nation back to a place of peace, prosperity and understanding?

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a fantastic writer known mostly for his non-fiction and essays so it is  thrilling to see him dive into the comic book form. This collection is not a reboot or a reintroduction with an origin story, but it is still a great place for new readers to jump into the Wakandan saga before the release of the Black Panther movie in 2018, as it includes a re-release of the first-ever appearance of T’Challa from 1966.

Who will like this book: Marvel fans, of course. Anyone intrigued by Chadwick Boseman’s performance in Captain America: Civil War.

If you like this, try this: The Ms. Marvel series by G. Willow Wilson. The Hawkeye series by Matt Fraction. The March collection by Rep. John Lewis.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

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The Emotionary

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Title: The Emotionary: A Dictionary of Words That Don’t Exist for Feelings that Do

Author: Eden Sher

Illustrator: Julia Wertz

Summary: Are you a ‘big-time feeler?’ Actress (best known for her stellar comedic work as Sue Heck on The Middle) Eden Sher is – to the point where she sometimes would have a hard time expressing her emotions through words. In order to overcome this, she began creating her own portmanteaus (a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others – think ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’ becoming brunch) to try and describe her the times when her feelings couldn’t be described by any existing definition. The result is this hilarious and charming collection of new words for the times that you just…can’t.

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Featuring delightful illustrations by Julia Wertz, often depicting her friendship with Sher and the construction of the book itself, this collection is a fast-paced and wickedly funny dive into the world of conflicting emotions. You’ll laugh, but you’ll also find yourself nodding your head in wonder as you discover that other people have the same feelings as you, and you may be relieved to finally find a way to define those tricky, complicated emotions you’ve had to deal with.

Who will like this book?: This is a great choice for any reader. Those afflicted with all the feels. Fans of Sher from her television work. Anyone feeling a bit stressed or overwhelmed who needs a book that isn’t too silly but will still make them laugh.

If you like this, try this: For a classic spin on the clever redefining of words, try The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Another wildly imaginative use of language – in this case, the alphabet – to shape a story, Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Boxers & Saints

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Title: Boxers & Saints

Author/Illustrator: Gene Luen Yang

Summary: In this stunning masterwork, Gene Luen Yang tells an epic story across two books about young people facing the devastating consequences of war in 18th century China. Little Bao and Vibiana both live in the idyllic but impoverished rural countryside with families that are facing challenges. Soon, inspired and driven by the hidden magic surrounding them (Bao by the god-kings of Chinese mythology and Vibiana by the legend of Joan of Arc), they each embark on a journey through the rapidly-changing world around them, finding themselves as they endure the upheaval, war and devastation that comes when people with different points of view cannot coexist peacefully. When their paths finally cross, neither will be the same.

It probably doesn’t matter in which order you read these dual narratives, but I’d suggest you start with Boxers. You might not learn too much about this famous colonial-era Rebellion in your history classes, but this story will immerse you in the violent and bloody struggle between those who wished to reject foreign influence in China and others who welcomed it. You will  be moved by both of these young people as they find themselves leading their people towards an unthinkable destiny, each believing they are right.

Who will like this book: Graphic n0vel readers. Fans of historical fiction and stories laced with magic and spirituality.

If you like this, try this: Yang’s Printz-winning work, American Born Chinese. Another fantastic graphic novel with a supernatural element, Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brogsol.For another era in Chinese history, take a look at Revolution is not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine. For more on the history of this era, read The Boxer Rebellion by Diana Preston.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Dare to Disappoint

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Title: Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey

Author/Illustrator: Özge Samancı

Summary: Özge grew up in a small village on the Mediterranean sea in Turkey, a proud and ancient nation with a tumultuous recent history. While she treasured her dreams of becoming an actress, or an adventurer, or even an underwater explorer like her idol Jacques Cousteau, she also knew that she had an obligation to her family and to herself to study as hard as she could and enter a profession that would allow her to support herself in a time when such opportunities were rare, especially for girls. So at a young age, Özge sets her dreams aside in order to devote herself to one goal: Getting in to the best college possible so she can study the most challenging subjects so she can get a great job to guarantee her future. Will she succeed? Is it worth it? What will she find out about herself along the way?

This bright and charming graphic memoir was written and designed by Samancı, who is now a professor living in Chicago. While it offers a detailed and lighthearted look at growing up in Turkey, what makes it truly fascinating is its terrific depiction of living through the stress of expectations, be they of your family or your society in general, and how it is truly universal, whether you live in the United States today or grew up halfway around the world 30 years ago. Heartfelt and unexpectedly sensitive, this book is well worth your time.

Who will like this book?: Fans of books set in other countries. Memoir readers. Anyone who likes beautiful illustrations – these pages are full of creative and clever visuals.

If you like this, try this: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. For more on Turkey, try Blue Voyage by Diana Renn.

The Marvels

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Title: The Marvels

Author/Illustrator: Brian Selznick

Summary: In 1766, Billy Marvel, survivor of a terrible shipwreck that claimed the life of an entire crew of sailors, including his brother, lands in London. He finds work in a theater and becomes the founding member of an acting dynasty that would span generations and centuries until it fell into ruin. All that remains of the legendary family is their strange and mysterious mansion in London. Decades later, young Joseph Jervis flees his country boarding school in search of his best friend who has moved to the city. Lost and alone, he calls upon his reclusive uncle Albert, who lives in the incredible and bizarre home that once belonged to the Marvels. Albert has no time or patience for Joseph, and he lives by very strict and strange rules about what can be touched, moved or used in the house. With the help of the girl next door, Joseph is determined to discover the secrets of the house, the truth about Marvels and reasons why his uncle seems so peculiar.

This is another masterpiece from Mr. Selznick – author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was a past One Book One Town title (so yes…we might be a bit biased!) – that takes an unusual artistic artifact – in this case, the Severs house in London, to tell a universal story of love and connection. The history of the Marvel family is told wordlessly and the story of Joseph and Albert is expressed in words, with both tales twisting and spinning their way together for a satisfying and emotional resolution that will stick with you for a long time. This is a book full of surprises and you’ll want to share it with everyone you know.

Who will like this book: Other than everybody? Fans of graphic and illustrated fiction. Artists and actors. Readers who like mysterious stories and characters, but not crime stories or creepy thrills.

If you like this, try this: Anything else by Brian Selznick. (You’ve read Wonderstruck and The Invention of Hugo Cabret already, right?!) The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Nimona

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Title: Nimona

Author/Illustrator: Noelle Stevenson

Summary: Nimona is brave, snarky, wild and bad to the bone. She has the ability to shapeshift into any living form and she plans to use her mysterious skills to aid ex-knight and mad scientist Lord Ballister Blackheart, a supervillain, wreak havoc on the world. Skeptical of his new sidekick at first, Blackheart soon realizes that despite her temper and her refusal to always listen to his rules, Nimona will make a sterling ally in his war against the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics, which is led by his archnemesis and former schoolmate Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. As Nimona and Blackheart delve deeper into the real schemes being launched by the mysterious Institution, friendships and lives are gained and lost and tragedies occur.

This is a very special graphic novel. While the action takes place in a strange world that feels a bit like fantasy and a bit like today, and the action can be intense, it really is a story about friendship. Nimona is at times breezy, riotously funny and sometimes achingly sad. Most impressively, it manages to be all of these things at the same time. As you read the story, the connections between the characters grow deeper and you might just find yourself changing your mind about who should win out in the end. The final pages are simply stunning, with an ending that will surprise and delight you. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Who will like this book?: Everybody. Seriously.

If you like this, try this: The ongoing story of another witty, super-powered young girl, the Ms. Marvel series by G. Willow Wilson. Another story about shapeshifters, Talon by Julie Kagawa. Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Ms. Marvel

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Title: Ms. Marvel

Author/Illustrator: G. Willow Wilson/Adrian Alphona and Jacob Wyatt

Summary: Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl living in Jersey City. She goes to school, hangs out with friends and fangirls over pretty much everything, including her favorite hero, Captain Marvel. She does her best to be a good daughter to her strict parents, as well as a faithful Muslim. But one night, she disobeys the rules to sneak out to a party, when something impossible happens: A strange mist drifts across the city, rendering everyone unconscious. When she wakes up, Kamala discovers that like her hero, she has superhuman (or, Inhuman) abilities – she can shape shift and even heal herself! Calling herself Ms. Marvel in homage to her hero, Kamala decides to use her new powers to protect and serve her community.

To say this is a groundbreaking comic is an understatement: This is the first ongoing storyline to have Muslim headline character. Kamala’s heritage is skillfully woven into the story as she tries to balance being a good and respectful person while discovering the full scope of her sometimes-scary new abilities. She is diligent and brave, even when facing dangerous situations, horrifying villains and potentially-embarrassing run-ins with legendary heroes. She is also lighthearted, silly and headstrong – an ordinary girl with extraordinary powers. This series, of which three collected volumes are now available, are perfect for summer reading. Funny, bold and heartfelt, the story of Kamala Khan is not to be missed.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like strong, sassy and brave heroes. Pop culture obsessives. Comics fans who like to see classic characters rebooted.

If you like this, try this: The Hawkeye books by Matt Fraction, which also spend time with a superhero going about their ‘ordinary’ life. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword Back by Barry Deutsch.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian