Capstone Publishing starts their new Graphic Lives series with graphic biographies of Anne Frank, Leonardo Da Vinci, Nelson Mandela, and Pope Francis. Graphic novel biographies not only tell the story of a famous individual, but also provide a visual glimpse into the world they live or lived in. The writing and illustrations for each book have to work together to provide the right balance of information and visual imagery for the reader to understand and enjoy.

This collection of graphic novels contains biographies of four famous people from different backgrounds and historical eras. Retold from her own diary, Anne Frank is the sad story of a teenage Jewish girl in hiding with her family during World War II. Narrated by the artist himself, Leonardo Da Vinci takes readers into the life of the renaissance man, from his religious artwork to his detailed illustrations. In Nelson Mandela, the famous African politician works long and hard to bring peace to South Africa. Lastly there is Pope Francis, the story of a humble priest who greets everyone, Christian or not, with open arms and continues to spread the message of love and hope to the world.

Each of these biographies are illustrated and written with the target audience in mind. The writers have chosen key scenes from each of the subject’s lives and explains the importance of each. When a statement or word is spoken in a language other than English, there is a brief explanation on the bottom of the page. Depending upon the historical era, the illustrations contain a detailed look into the individual’s life and where they lived; whether it be the devastation of World War II Europe, the streets of Buenos Aires, or the studios of great artists. Each illustrator uses a bright color scheme and provides specific details for the face of each character, clearly showing emotions and actions taking place on the page.

At the end of each book, there is additional information about each person and the impact their life or situation has had on history and popular culture. There is also a glossary of terms with definitions, discussion questions, writing prompts, and a brief biography of the book’s illustrator and author. With the exception of Anne Frank, there is also a brief timeline that shows the growth of each individual, visually, and a brief recap on a significant event in their life.

Due to their length, these graphic novels are best for readers in middle school (between 5th-8th grade). With additional activities and background information, school librarians may consider purchasing this series and encourage teachers to use them for their lessons. Public librarians in both children’s and young adult departments should consider purchasing them as well, especially if they have readers who enjoy history and biographies.

Anne Frank
By Diego Agrimbau
Art by Fabian Mezquita
ISBN: 9781515791614
Leonardo da Vinci
By Diego Agrimbau
Art by Diego Aballay
ISBN: 9781515791638
Nelson Mandela
By Emanuel Castro
Art by Ignacio Segesso
ISBN: 9781515791645
Pope Francis
By Emanuel Castro
Art by Ignacio Segesso
ISBN: 9781515791621
Capstone, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: Grade 3-4

  • Gloria

    | She/Her Children's Librarian, Elmont Memorial Library

    Gloria is a full-time children’s librarian at the Elmont Memorial Library in Long Island, New York where she runs a monthly STEAM program, a graphic novel book club, and storytime for preschoolers. During her free time, she is found reading anything and everything from the classics, to poetry, to the newest best seller. Her other interests include writing, online games, exploring new areas in her home state, and spending time with friends, family, and colleagues. She has also written articles and reviews for the website Cosplay, Comics, and Geek Culture in Libraries and on her personal Goodreads page.

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