A massive blizzard, a missing plane, a group huddled together to weather the storm—and the thing that has begun hunting them.
From Boom! Studios and the creative team of Jeremy Haun and Jason Hurley with Jesús Hervás and Lea Caballero comes The Approach, a horror story about surviving the unimaginable when there is nowhere to run. The story opens with Mac, Abi, and the rest of the employees at a rural airport on the verge of shutting down in the face of an onslaught of winter weather. Things are difficult enough when they receive a diverted passenger plane looking for shelter, but the trouble truly begins when a second, smaller plane crashes on site, leaving no survivors.
Only, that is not entirely true. The smaller plane has been missing for 27 years, and one of the bodies pulled from the wreckage soon disappears. Cut off from help and struggling against weather that only promises to get worse, Mac, Abi, and the others soon realize that something on the plane was not human. As it begins to hunt and begins to grow into something truly terrifying, it will take all that the survivors have to escape. While tensions are already high, someone may know more than they let on about the creature, and no amount of heroism guarantees that everyone will make it out alive.
Haun and Hurley have established themselves in horror comics at this point, so it’s no surprise that The Approach aims to deliver some flawed characters facing something truly horrific on the path to survival. Comparisons to movies like Alien and The Thing are inevitable in this sort of sci-fi horror narrative. Though The Approach offers plenty of familiar plot beats and set pieces, it isn’t just a copy-paste of other similar stories. Haun and Hurley set up the key character relationships early on. Some are friendly, others less-so. Mac struggles with pills and a history he’d rather forget. Others are desperate to leave their rural landscape behind in search of better opportunities. None are equipped for the monster headed their way, and the writing delivers some tender moments even after the violence starts. Overall, however, The Approach opts to focus on creature horror and survival over some of its deeper themes and subplots. The result is a story that doesn’t offer a huge amount to latch onto emotionally and also doesn’t do anything wildly unexpected within the genre its embracing.
That being said, Haun and Hurley are a pair of writers willing to aim big, and with Hervás and Caballero providing the art for this story, readers looking for a healthy dose of monster horror will not be disappointed. The barren landscape buried in snow is evident from the opening panels, as are the harsh lines and grim tone that suffuse the book. As events escalate, the artists showcase a diverse cast through dramatic moments of terror and silence while also embracing the visceral violence and horror of a monster that refuses to be contained. It’s a naturally cinematic story, and the creators don’t miss their opportunities to deliver dramatic panels and shocking moments as the fight for survival only goes from bad to worse.
Boom! doesn’t list a specific age rating for this title, but with scattered language, partial nudity, and graphic creature violence, it’s aimed solidly at adult readers with some crossover to older teens who can handle the gore. All of this considered, The Approach is not a required purchase, but if your readership craves more horror options or is a fan of past work from members of this creative team, this book is worth considering. It’s not about to redefine the genre, but if readers want to settle in to a tense story featuring a hideous creature and plenty of horror action and suspense, The Approach has plenty to offer.
The Approach By Jeremy Haun, Jason Hurley Art by Jesús Hervás, Lea Caballero BOOM! Studios, 2023 ISBN: 9781684159086
Publisher Age Rating: 17+ NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
“It’s going to come at you fast, and you’re going to freeze.” For Kit Hobbs, fighting monsters is the family business. But facing unexpected responsibilities she didn’t want is only the beginning. It’s salvaging her family that’s truly going to be the challenge.
In a world where monstrous kaiju regularly attack cities, Nexus Command oversees a network of city defenders known as Titans, gigantic robots with human pilots who serve as the only line of defense between the kaiju and human civilization. When Kit’s father lost the use of his legs piloting a Titan, the job fell to his son—leaving Kit feeling discarded as second best and estranged from her family. However, when addiction and depression make Kit’s brother more of a liability than an asset, she is called back home, both to look after her brother and take his seat in the Titan for as long as she’s needed.
Remembering her training and fighting kaiju is hard enough, but there’s an unidentified Titan making appearances in Kit’s city, picking fights and disappearing without a trace, a Titan with no pilot. It’s one more problem to solve even as Kit fights for her life every time she climbs into the pilot’s seat. And that’s not even the biggest issue facing her. Family legacy is a heavy thing. The demands of the job haunt her parents, causing rifts between them and their children. The pressure and never-ending expectations drove Kit’s brother to the bottle and kept Kit from her family for years. And now, returning home and reopening old wounds is straining Kit’s relationship with her partner. Hoping for redemption is easy. Finding it is hard. And if Kit manages to survive the threats encroaching on her city, there are still years of trauma left to confront on the way to something resembling a happy ending.
Written by Tres Dan, We Ride Titans from Vault Comics searches for a balance between kaiju vs. mecha action and emotionally grounded family drama. The limited series delivers on its promise in the opening pages as Kit’s brother teeters on the edge of success and calamity in a fight against the newest monster. As the story continues, the action is intriguing, but it is the family moments which carry the most weight. The comic’s examination of family trauma and healing is strikingly relatable and delivered with empathy and nuance from all the various members of the family. With only 5 issues, the story does end up feeling rushed in places, especially the drama of the larger kaiju/Titan conflict. However, given the amount of space these creators have to work with, they do serve up some bold mecha action alongside strikingly tender family moments grounded in flawed characters who are worth spending time with.
Bringing the action and emotion to life, Sebastian Piriz captures the epic scale of the physical conflicts as well as the intimate moments of conversation, hurt, and beauty that continue to shape the lives of the characters. The action sequences are occasionally difficult to follow, but the range of gross monsters is fun to watch as they rampage across the page, and Piriz conveys the very human lives of these characters in engaging detail. In facial expressions and dynamic paneling, Piriz and the other artists work to convey the depth of the story with each new twist of the plot.
Vault does not provide a specific age rating for this title, but with sci-fi violence, strong language, and thematic elements, it’s a story aimed at older teens and adults. The creators organically include a good range of diversity in terms of race, sexuality, and disability, and the main setup of Titans fighting kaiju across cities is sure to have appeal to fans of anime and science fiction. With everything else this title does well, its greatest strength really is the character relationships and examination of family at the story’s center. For We Ride Titans, its greatest flaw is its brevity, but as it delivers on its epic premise and grounds everything in its characters and their complicated lives, there’s plenty here to enjoy for a wide range of readers.
We Ride Titans By Tres Dean Art by Sebastian Piriz Vault, 2022 ISBN: 9781638491187
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18) Creator Representation: Argentinian Character Representation: Black, Lesbian, Mobility Impairment, Addiction
In A Chance, Spanish comics duo Cristina Durán and Miguel Giner Bou chronicle the experience of becoming parents to their daughters: Laia, who was born with cerebral palsy, and Selam, whom the couple adopted from Ethiopia. First published as separate volumes in 2009 and 2012, this engaging graphic memoir captures the day-to-day emotional and logistical complexities of Cris and Miguel’s parenting journey, one that calls upon the couple to embrace uncertainty and difference and lean into a network of professionals and loved ones to support their daughters’ complex needs. A Chance succeeds on many fronts, but its uncritical treatment of the international adoption process results in an uneven read.
Part One, “One Chance in a Thousand,” opens with the news that the couples’ newborn infant, Laia, is experiencing a brain hemorrhage. Cris and Miguel spend the next weeks in the neonatal unit, sitting with fear and uncertainty as they wait to learn more about their child’s prognosis. The medical details of Laia’s cerebral palsy are interwoven with the intimate experiences of bonding with a baby under medical care, an early infancy that’s nothing like the one they’d expected.
Once Laia is stable and at home, the family embarks on a tightly scheduled life of medical appointments and grueling physical therapy, punctuated by further health scares. Yet these tense first months and years are underpinned by Cris and Miguel’s love and gratitude for their daughter. Laia’s disability is a challenge, but it’s not a tragedy, and her happiness and quality of life are their focus. Cris and Miguel also emphasize that caring for Laia is a team effort; family members, doctors, and childcare workers step up to support the family, a vision of community care that’s radical and uplifting.
As Laia makes developmental progress and settles into a happy childhood, Cris and Miguel embark on the process of adopting a second child. Part Two, “Efrén’s Machine,” details this experience. While Laia’s complex needs were unexpected, their long-anticipated path to become parents to their second daughter is complex in entirely expected ways—a years-long process involving waitlists, screening processes, and finally, an international flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where they meet three-year-old Selamawit at her group home and finalize the adoption.
Cris and Miguel document the emotional and practical demands of navigating the adoption process and bringing their daughter home. As with Laia, becoming parents to Selam requires a great deal of personal fortitude but gives them the opportunity to build relationships with a new community, one made up of fellow adoptive parents, adoption workers, and Efrén, the warmhearted driver in Addis Ababa who gives his name to this part of the book.
Three years before A Chancewas published in English, Ethiopia’s parliament banned international adoptions. Cris and Miguel nod to uncomfortable aspects of adopting a child from another country; they describe their feeling of being out-of-place as white people during their visit to Addis Ababa, highlight adoption myths held by other white prospective parents, and contrast their experience with that of Tigui, an Ethiopian-born woman returning from Europe to her home country to adopt a child.
Yet A Chance never acknowledges critiques of international adoption as a system, one that is characterized by power differentials between rich and poor countries and, in the view of the Ethiopian government and others, has the potential to cause harm to children and families. These are thorny issues, and to be clear, what’s in question here is not two parents’ individual motivations for adopting a much-loved daughter. It’s the structural pitfalls that are missing, from falsification of documents, to economic pressures resulting in families having to give up wanted children, to the impact of being removed from a culture of origin. In the first half of the book, the authors reflect on moments when systems of care fail their daughter Laia—nurses who discourage Cris from trying to breastfeed, a daycare unwilling to accommodate Laia’s disabilities—so the absence of a critical eye here felt jarring.
Durán and Giner Bou have produced an impressive parenting memoir. Readable and emotionally engaging, there’s much in this book to interest readers who’ve had similar parenting experiences, as well as those seeking to learn more about parenting disabled and adopted children. A preference for dialogue over exposition gives the story a novelistic feel, and blocky, stylized art matches the gentle optimism that defines Cris and Miguel’s parenting story. Crafting a coherent narrative with a strong emotional arc out of a chaotic time in the authors’ lives, this book will be accessible to a wide range of readers, from longtime comics fans to those new to the medium. But the memoir format, with its tight focus on the authors’ personal experiences, may be frustrating for readers seeking insight into Ethiopia’s now-banned international adoption industry.
A Chance By Cristina Duran, Miguel Giner Bou Graphic Mundi, 2021 ISBN: 9781637790038
Publisher Age Rating: 12+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+) Creator Representation: Spanish Character Representation: Ethiopian, Spanish, Cerebral Palsy, Disability, Mobility Impairment
It’s 1953 and anti-Communist propaganda is overtaking the United States, especially Peggy Monroe’s small town. Liam Francis Walsh’s Red Scare: A Graphic Novel takes the historical event of the same name and turns it into a science fiction tale about what happens when an unknown power gets into the hands of someone looking for her own way out.
Peggy is a loner. Since contracting polio, her life hasn’t been the same. The doctor tells her she needs to try harder to get better, but it’s not her fault. Her twin brother, Skip, is struggling too. Since their dad returned home from serving in the Korean War, home’s been especially stressful. Their mom is distant, trying to raise the kids and keep the house running, while working her own job at a local motel. Everything in Peggy’s life just seems so unfair.
While Skip gets to stay home, Peggy helps her mom out at the motel. She’s supposed to be dusting one of the rooms but gets wrapped up in her latest sci-fi book from the library and ends up falling asleep under the bed. Before she knows it, there’s a man in the room with a briefcase with a mysterious red glow! Peggy barely gets out in time but leaves one of her crutches outside the room. When she goes back to grab it, she makes a horrific discovery — the man is dead with a red handprint left behind!
The dead man is discovered by the authorities to be a Soviet spy, right there in their own backyard. But Peggy’s life must get on as normal, except now the kids at school think she caught some Commie cooties from the spy. The next day, she meets her new neighbor, Jess, whose family moved to the town with secrets of their own. Jess is outgoing and outspoken, everything Peggy isn’t, and keeps encouraging her new friend to have a little gumption.
Then something happens. Peggy can fly. That mysterious glow she saw in the hotel room? It’s now in a rod hidden in her once left behind crutch. She and Jess fly all over town! She can do hopscotch again! The FBI won’t leave her family alone though, so she has to keep her new discovery extra secret to protect them.
It’s at this point that Red Scare turns up the pace, with almost non-stop action and reveals. With its retro comics inspired style, readers who love adventure will not be able to put it down. Nothing in Peggy’s town is what it seems, everyone is suspicious, and the damage and danger of witch hunts permeates the story. Even with its frequent fight scenes and sci-fi inspired action, this book still tells the story of a young girl, her family, and what standing up for the right thing means. Plus, a twist ending!
Walsh’s art is perfectly appropriate for the time era Red Scare is set in. The background details are era appropriate as well, without overwhelming the story. The use of color, particularly various shades of red in some of the final panels, adds to the plot and tension of the story.
One of the highlights of this book is the author’s notes at the end. Walsh puts Peggy’s story in a historical context, with information about the Atomic Age, Red Scare, and polio for his readers. He also includes sketches of his work over the years, giving readers a look at the long process of creating a detailed, historical graphic novel.
Readers who love history, science fiction, and action will enjoy Red Scare. This graphic novel will pair well alongside the history of 1950s America in any classroom setting and will create a conversation amongst its readers while taking them on a fast paced story of one girl and a glowing red rod.
Red Scare: A Graphic Novel Vol. By Liam Francis Walsh Scholastic GRAPHIX, 2022 ISBN: 9781338167092
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Teen (13-16), Tween (10-13) Character Representation: Mobility Impairment,
This book opens with the free speech portion of the first amendment from the US Constitution, followed by writer Ian Rosenberg, who is Jewish, explaining the events that led to this book. Several events are referenced within the first three pages, including the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, National School Walkout protests, 2017 Women’s March, and Mollie Steimer’s arrival at Ellis Island from Russia in 1913. Steimer’s foundational court battles lead into a key consideration: “Who is truly heard in the marketplace [of ideas]? If women, minorities, and the poor are not granted equal opportunity to enter the market, how can their voices participate in the competition for truth?” This question is immediately followed by talking-head quotes from law professors Charles Lawrence III, who is black, and Catharine A. MacKinnon, who is white.
The second chapter looks at Colin Kaepernick and the act of taking a knee (originally staying seated, but changed to kneeling as a sign of respect to fallen soldiers, an oft-overlooked nuance I was glad to see highlighted). After comparing reactions for and against that act of protest, the narrative shifts to the 1935 case of a child not participating in his classroom’s pledge of allegiance. There, as in Steimer’s case and many others used in this book, Rosenberg quotes and contextualizes judges’ rulings, their immediate fallout, and what they mean for Americans’ freedoms today. In each chapter, Rosenberg cites different scholars, justices, authors, and legal precedents, ensuring that his teacherly perspective is never unilateral or unsupported by facts and expertise. This is important when debunking Donald Trump and Clarence Thomas’s hypothetical rewriting of libel laws to go after the media, for example. Further issues include but are not limited to civil rights protests, propaganda on social media, Westboro Baptist Church’s protesting at funerals, and the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville. There’s a lot to chew on in every chapter!
All of this history and legal analysis needs a skilled cartoonist to weave its various threads into a cohesive whole, and artist Mike Cavallaro is mostly up to the task. There can be paragraphs of dry text on some pages, and Cavallaro makes sure to break up each block of text with a related image, often a picture of someone in portrait. Layouts will include images designed to guide readers across the page; other times, they use broad, straightforward grids. Some metaphorical imagery underlines Rosenberg’s points, but more often than not the art is rather literal, depicting flatly delivered quotes, exposition, talking heads, and book covers. The first amendment appears as an anthropomorphic #1 wearing a red cape, battling laws aimed at restricting it. I can’t help but think back to my previous review of What Unites Us, which used color and figurative imagery more frequently and effectively. That’s not a knock against the arguments presented in this book, only its presentation.
An afterword including quick summaries of first amendment concepts, as well as a glossary of legal terms and chapter-by-chapter bibliography, provide resources for learning and recall. As one might expect in a thorough review of free speech, some of the book’s examples involve swearing, from celebrities cursing at awards shows to George Carlin’s “seven words you can’t say on television” bit, Samantha Bee’s callout of Ivanka Trump over immigration policy in 2018, and “fuck the draft” printed on a jacket during the Vietnam War. A section about Larry Flynt’s legal battles over Hustler, a pornographic magazine, does not include porn. The issues discussed in this book are undeniably pertinent to all Americans, as well as historians and legal scholars. To make another comparison to What Unites Us, this is another powerful teaching tool from the World Citizen Comics line of publisher First Second that demonstrates over and over the impact of people standing up for their rights, even (especially!) if doing so is unpopular. The presentation is scholarly, as well it should be. Close reading and factual analysis should be considered signs of respect for “the most American of virtues.”
Free Speech Handbook By Ian Rosenberg Art by Mike Cavallaro First Second, 2021 ISBN: 9781250619754
Series ISBNs and Order
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16) Creator Representation: Jewish Character Representation: African-American, Russian, Mobility Impairment, Jehovah’s Witness, Jewish, Protestant ,
The year is 2029. Twelve years ago, Aahna “Ash” Ashina was the LAPD’s greatest Blade Runner – one of the elite police detectives tasked with hunting down and killing any Replicant running loose on Earth. Yet Ash had a secret that would destroy her career were it discovered by her fellow cops; she was dependent on a rechargeable spinal implant to walk.
Ten years ago, Ash left the force and went on the run, acting as the protector and foster mother of a runaway girl, to honor the dying request of the Replicant clone of the girl’s biological mother.
Three years ago, Ash returned to a radically different Earth, where the manufacture of Replicants was outlawed after an attack on the Tyrell Corporation erased every record of every existing Replicant. Naturally this did nothing to stop the rich and powerful from ordering their own custom grown Replicant “servants” on the black market.
Two years ago, Ash rejoined the LAPD and the Blade Runners, joining the hunt for the last of the Nexus 8 Replicant models: the most human Replicants ever made. But Ash had a secret beyond her artificial spine. She had become part of the Replicant Underground, working to free the new Replicants who are born as both fugitives and slaves on Earth.
Now, Ash is relatively content, having found love with the Nexus 8 Replicant Freysa Sadeghpour. But a ghost from the past has thrown Ash’s new life into sharp relief; a ghost called Yotun, who is the only Replicant to ever escape Ash’s clutches in her old life and the leader of a Replicant terrorist cell out for revenge on the idle rich responsible for the creation of the latest Nexus 8 Replicants.
Fans of the Blade Runner franchise hoping for more of the same after Titan Comics’ excellent Blade Runner 2019 series will greatly enjoy this first volume of Blade Runner 2029. Michael Green, Mike Johnson and Andres Guinaldo, the creators on the first comic series centered around Ash’s adventures, have all returned for this second series and their respective contributions are as fine as ever. Green, who co-wrote the screenplay for Blade Runner 2049, continues to expand upon the setting of the original film, while slowly building up the elements he introduced in the sequel. Ana’s lover Freysa Sadeghpour, for instance, was a character in Blade Runner 2049.
Andres Guinaldo continues to capture the essence of the neo-Noir setting of Blade Runner. There is grit and grime aplenty, as befits the mean streets of Los Angeles. Yet there is also neon splendor and bright lights concealing the dark heart of the city’s underground, well rendered by colorist Marco Lesko. Suffice it to say the unique aesthetic of the movies is replicated perfectly throughout this book.
This volume is rated 15+ and I consider that to be a fair rating. There is nothing in Blade Runner 2029 that would be inappropriate for an older teen audience and nothing likely to upset fans of the original movies, which were rightly rated R for violence, nudity and sexual themes. There is nothing so overt in this collection, though there are some disturbing images of one body being impaled on rebar, a dissected corpse post-autopsy and some loose body parts in various Replicant labs.
Blade Runner 2029 Vol. 1: Reunion Vol. 01 By Michael Green, Mike Johnson, , Art by Andres Guinaldo Titan Comics, 2021 ISBN: 9781787731943
Publisher Age Rating: 15+ Related media: Movie to Comic
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18) Character Representation: Indian American, Japanese-American, Lesbian, Mobility Impairment, Prosthesis,
Legends are told across the universe of a blue box that shows up in times of great need. It can travel anywhere in time and space and is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Inside this blue box, which is known as the TARDIS, lives a being known as the Doctor. Sometimes the Doctor is old with young eyes. Other times the Doctor is young with old eyes. Sometimes the Doctor is a man. Other times the Doctor is a woman. At all times the Doctor is a champion of the downtrodden, never cowardly or cruel, who stands up against all tyrants, both petty and powerful.
Once, when the Doctor was a young and dashing man, he became stranded on the planet Earth in the city of London in the year 1969, with his companion; a human medical student named Martha Jones. The two had fallen prey to a quantum assassin known as a Weeping Angel; a curious being who displaced people in time and fed upon the potential energy released by that shift in spacetime. They were eventually saved by a clever woman named Sally Sparrow, who reunited the Doctor and the TARDIS… but for now they are still stuck in 1969 with no way out.
Now, an older Doctor, who is a witty livewire of a woman, has found herself in London in 1969 along with her current crew of companions; dyspraxic mechanic Ryan Sinclair, probationary police officer Yasmin Khan and retired bus driver Graham O’Brien. This is troubling, as the laws of time usually do not allow the various versions of the Doctor to cross paths, since this could cause a paradox that could destroy the universe. Unfortunately, a group of Weeping Angels are also now in 1969… and they are not the only alien menace with designs on London town!
A Tale Of Two Time Lords is the fourth collection of Doctor Who stories starring the Thirteenth incarnation of the Doctor published by Titan Comics and the first story to team the Thirteenth Doctor with an earlier incarnation; the Tenth Doctor. Despite this, it is a wonderful story for new readers of the comics and neophytes to the Doctor Who television series. The most fantastic aspect of this story, which is built around the classic Tenth Doctor episode “Blink,” is that Jody Houser’s script walks the reader through everything they need to know about the original episode, the concept behind the Weeping Angels and just how there are more than one version of the Doctor running around, in case you don’t already know. Established fans will not feel talked-down to, however, as there are also s a number of clever nods to the show hinting at the complexity of the Doctor Who universe that shouldn’t scare away newcomers. Indeed, it only encourages them to delve deeper into the lore of the show.
Houser’s script is brought to life beautifully by Roberta Ingranata, who perfectly captures the appearance of the characters from the show. More importantly, Ingranata shows amazing skill as a visual storyteller, and the fast-pace chase scenes that are part and parcel of the Doctor Who experience are well translated into an illustrated fiction format under Ingranta’s pencils and inks. The color art by Enrica Eren Angiolini also deserves praise, being suitably vivid and eye-catching.
This volume is rated 12+ and I think that is a fair rating, if only for the use of language. I am referring, in this case, to the use of advanced scientific terminology younger readers might not grasp and not curse words. There’s nothing inappropriate in the text or artwork, so advanced readers of a younger age should be able to handle A Tale Of Two Time Lords with little issue.
Doctor Who: A Tale Of Two Time Lords By Jody Houser Art by Roberta Ingranata and Enrica Angiolini ISBN: 9781787733107 Titan Comics, 2020 Publisher Age Rating: 12+ Series ISBNS and Order
Title Details and Representation NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16) Character Traits: Black, British, Pakistani, Mobility Impairment, Muslim Related to…: TV to Comic
Discover the wonders of everyday life with four stories set in Beijing, China. In My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder, Nie Jun explores life through the eyes of a young girl named Yu’er and her grandfather.
Yu’er is disabled, and relies on her grandfather for transportation. She dreams of swimming in the Special Olympics, but the family does not have access to a pool. So her grandfather fashions a harness to a tree that allows Yu’er to practice swimming. The message of the story is if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.
In another story, Yu’er finds some neighborhood kids tormenting a butterfly. She tries to stop them, but they push her to the side. A young boy, Duobao, comes to the rescue. He whisks Yu’er away to what he calls Bug Paradise. Duobao shows her the visual and sensory pleasures that can be found there. From the sounds of crickets chirping, to the buzz of the bee, Yu’er imagines a symphony all around her. The scene captures the marvel and magic that surrounds us, that we are too busy to notice.
Yu’er has rosy cheeks and wears an orange and white cap with a tuft of her bangs hanging out. Her grandfather is a rotund fellow, who is always in a jovial mood. The artwork is done in the style of watercolor. The main colors used are orange, yellow, green, and blue. The courtyard residences that make up the hutong are naturally grey, but the author infuses them with orange and green window trimmings to give it a vibrancy. It makes the images pop out, and you want to absorb every little detail.
My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder captures what life is like living in a hutong. These types of structures are normally found in the northern parts of Beijing. A hutong is an alleyway that connects rows of siheyuan. Siheyuans are residences that are built to form squares or rectangles to create a courtyard. These types of spaces began during the Yuan dynasty circa 1271-1368. When initially people think about Beijing, they might think of the Summer Olympics. A visual of huge crowds, historic buildings, and a place where tradition and the present combine. The hutongs as depicted in the graphic novel give us a sense of interconnectedness of the community. By being connected physically, communities become closer and cooperation is necessary for peace and harmony.
I found My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder to be a visual feast for the eyes and like a warm cup of soup for the soul. You can’t help but feel your spirit glowing. The story radiates happiness, and an appreciation for the simple things around us. Children will enjoy the visuals, and the character of Yu’er. The theme of the importance of dreams, and not letting your limitations define you will resonate with the young and old.
My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder by Nie Jun ISBN: 9781512445909 Graphic Universe, 2016 Publisher Age Rating: 7-11