Ms. Marvel

kamala

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

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In Real Life

IRL

TitleIn Real Life

Author: Cory Doctorow

Illustrator: Jen Wang

Summary: Anda is shy in real life, but online she is a kick-butt character in the massively-multiplayer role-playing game Coarsegold Online where she has begun to make friends with other players. The line between what is right and wrong starts to blur when she befriends a gold farmer who collects valuable objects in game to sell for money out of the game.

Who will like this book?: Fans of characters with strong morals. Graphic novel readers, and online game players.

If you like this, try this: Ms. Marvel Vol. 1, No Normal  by G Willow Wilson,illustrated by Adrian Alphona.  Page by Paige by Laura Gulledge. The Eye of Minds by James Dashner.

Recommended by: Stephanie, Librarian

Fables

     Fables Vol. 20: Camelot

Title: Fables

Author: Bill Willingham

Illustrators: Mark Buckingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and more

Summary: First printed in 2002, the comic series Fables has endured, becoming one of the most beloved continuing series in recent memory. Forced out of their familiar Homelands by a dark and deadly figure known only as the “Adversary,” the legendary characters of myth and tall tales made their way to our world to establish Fabletown, where, as immortals, they have lived and thrived into our modern age. But the people you meet on these pages bear little resemblance to your favorite cartoon royals and monsters. When Jack (of Beanstalk fame) rushes to tell Bigby Wolf, sheriff of Fabletown that his girlfriend, Rose Red has disappeared and their apartment is covered in blood, an investigation into a possible murder begins. Following Bigby’s every move is Snow White, Rose’s sister and deputy mayor of Fabletown.

Over the course of its 12 year run (collected into 20 volumes so far), Willingham weaves in both beloved figures from the most popular fairy tales to obscure characters you may have never heard of. The nature of the story also changes, from murder mystery to domestic drama to epic quest. This is a great story to curl up in, because the twists and surprises will keep you turning pages, and some will even break your heart. With the end of the story coming soon (in early 2015,) this is the perfect time to start Fables at the beginning.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who like ‘fractured’ fairy tales – new spins on familiar stories. TV watchers looking for something a bit grittier than Once Upon a Time. Fans of ongoing graphic novel series such as The Walking Dead.

If you like this, try this: Into the Wild and Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. The series The Unwritten by Mike Carey. And if you can’t get enough of the Fables world, read the prequel, 1001 Nights of Snowfall.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Drama

[Cover]

Title: Drama

Author/Illustrator: Raina Telgemeier

Summary: Callie loves the stage…well, backstage anyway. A proud member of the stage crew, she is thrilled to get the opportunity to design the sets for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi. Callie may not be in the spotlight, but she and her friends all have some drama to deal with. Does she still have feelings for Greg? Or does she really like Jesse? Does Jesse like her? Or is he into boys like his twin brother? And how on earth is she going to convince everyone to let her fire a live cannon onstage in the middle of the show?

This delightful graphic novel is great fun for anyone who likes a little bit of innocent drama in their stories. Telgemeier perfectly captures the chaos of stage production and the calm of performance in such a way that you feel like you are right next to Callie as she preps the next scene. The characters are all teens you can root for, whether you are an ‘onstage’ type, a ‘backstage’ type or an ‘offstage’ type. This is a great choice for someone looking some something fast and fun to read.

Who will like this book: Theatrical types of all ages. Readers who like stories with love trianges…or pentagons…or octagons.

If you like this, try this: Dramarama by E. Lockhart, My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluge, A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

My Friend Dahmer

[Cover]

Title: My Friend Dahmer

Author/Illustrator: Derf Backderf

Summary: Jeffrey Dahmer was a notorious serial killer, responsible for the deaths of 17 men and boys. But before he became a monster, he was a kid growing up in the Midwest alongside author/illustrator Derf. This graphic memoir brings the reader into their world and shows how Dahmer’s crimes had as much to do with the people in his life who failed to see to the warning signs as his own troubled psyche. Beginning with their first acquaintance in middle school in the 1970s, the author tracks his evolving acquaintance with the weird, introverted boy who always seemed to be on the outside looking in.

Derf does not excuse Jeff’s horrifying crimes, but he asks the readers to look a little deeper at the circumstances that enabled Dahmer to become a killer. This book is more about how our actions can have consequences beyond our own understanding at the time. Derf also includes a terrific bibliography and information about his research for those interested in learning more about Dahmer and his crimes. This excellent graphic novel deserves to be read. It is not an easy book, but it is one that you will remember.

Who will like this book?: Older, mature readers interested in crime stories and psychology. This book is disturbing and intense – but it is very thought-provoking and memorable.

If you like this, read this: Stitches by David Small. The true crime graphic novels by Rick Geary, including Jack the Ripper, The Borden Tragedy and The Lindbergh Child. Columbine by Dave Cullen.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Chopsticks

Cover

Title: Chopsticks

Author: Jessica Anthony

Designer: Rodrigo Corral

Summary: Glory is a piano prodigy who lost her mother when she was young. Her father, a music teacher, has raised her to be the next big thing in classical music and she becomes famous for reinterpreting the classics by weaving in rock and roll and other whimsical songs, like her favorite, the famous Chopsticks waltz. When Frank Mendoza, an Argentinian boy with a talent for drawing, moves in next door he and Glory begin to fall in love  but things deteriorate rapidly when Glory’s father takes her on a world tour. Soon she is unable to perform anything but Chopsticks. Upon returning home Glory disappears…or does she?

This unique story – a sort-of graphic novel told entirely through pictures, IMs, newspaper clippings, letters, and other items – forces you to piece together the truth as you read. You learn about Glory’s childhood and Frank’s rebellious streak and as soon as you think you know where it is all heading, Chopsticks shifts direction. Even though the evidence is right in front of you, the ending will be a shock to your system. In fact, you’ll probably want to read it all over again from the beginning (just like I did!) to pick apart the clues you didn’t even know where there. Chopsticks, a collaboration between author Anthony and legendary book cover-and-graphic designer Corral, is a haunting puzzle that will stick with you for a long time.

Who will like this book?: People who like strange and quirky books. Anyone who likes a good mystery where the clues seem to be right in front of you the whole time. Romantic-types looking for a unique love story.

If you like this, try this: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Wonderstruck

Cover

Title: Wonderstruck

Author and Illustrator: Brian Selznick

Summary: It is 1977. Ben likes to collect things. Some are treasures his mom has given to him. Others are things he has found growing up in Gunflint, Michigan. But Ben just lost his mom in a car accident and is living with his aunt and uncle. When he returns to his old home, he discovers in his mother’s things a book about the American Museum of Natural History called Wonderstruck, inscribed to someone David. Could this be the father he has never met? Ben decides to find out.

It is 1927. Rose lives a lonely, isolated life in Hoboken, New Jersey. She longs to cross the river into bustling New York City. She, like Ben, is missing something in her life and she is determined to find it. The way these two stories interweave, one in words, the other in pictures, will suprise and delight you.

I’ll admit it: I love The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It was Fairfield’s One Book One Town book a few years ago and it’s creator, Brian Selznick, might be the most charming author around. So I picked up Wonderstruck with a mixture of excitment and nervous anticipation. Would it be as good as Hugo? The answer is clear: Yes. Yes, yes, yes! Read this book right now.

Who will like this book?: Everybody. Seriously.

If you like this, try this: The Invention of Hugo Cabret, also by Selznick. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Pieces of Georgia by Jen Bryant.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian