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In the stacks: new graphic novels

Posted: January 3, 2013 - 12:06am

Check the New Book shelves for these and many other graphic novels for kids at the Juneau Public Libraries. Look for volume one of “The Little Prince” and fall into another world with “Return of the Dapper Men,” or browse the 741.59 section for older titles you’ve missed.

“Spera,” by Josh Tierney.

Princess Lono’s quiet life of reading, daydreaming, and wishing for her father to return from war is upturned by the arrival of Pira, a princess from a neighboring kingdom. Pira announces that the two have got to flee before her mother’s army reaches Lono’s lands. Soon the two, with the aid of a friendly fire spirit, are making their way across the country, desperately trying to reach the fairytale land of Spera. Armed only with the sword that Pira was born with and facing obstacles from both the physical and spirit world, will they make it? The story here is engrossing (with lovely humorous visuals) and the structure of the book is fascinating – though it’s one consecutive story with chapters, each chapter is drawn by a different artist. The effect is a little jarring for the first two chapters, but all the artists are so good that readers soon look forward to discovering how Spera’s world changes.

“Sybil the Backpack Fairy,” by Michel Rodrigue, Antonello Dalena, Manuela Razzi, and Cecilia Guimento.

This Belgian import mixes Disneyesque pinks and purples with a swirl of manga-styled art, creating a very appealing and energetic mood for the story of Nina and Sybil. Nina is a tomboy who is old enough to babysit her baby brother, but young enough to accept what’s going on when a fairy appears in her backpack on the first day of school. She’s having a rotten first day: she nearly lost her backpack before she even left the house, she’s sent to the principal for causing a disruption, and her old nemesis, Laurie the bully, is back. With the help of Sybil, her new fairy friend, Nina starts getting her life back on track, until she catches hints that all may not be as it seems – maybe Sybil’s not here just to be her friend, but to help her complete a secret mission! This is the first in a series – stay tuned.

“Ichiro,” by Ryan Inzana.

Ichiro is torn between loyalties: he idolizes his American father, a soldier who was killed in Iraq when Ichi was very young. But as his grandfather shows him around shrines and war memorials in Hiroshima, Ichiro begins to doubt the glory of war. He feels unsettled and unwelcome in both America (where he and his mom are harassed for looking different) and Japan (where he can’t speak the language well at all), but distracts himself with the mystery of the monkey who is stealing persimmons from his grandfather’s tree. When he sets a trap for it, Ichiro finds himself dragged into the realm of the gods. This is a mesmerizing story, grounded in the everyday feelings of a boy caught between cultures, but soaring into a mythical tug-of-war that imitates the real world. Exquisite art, mostly in shades of grey except when the spirit world is involved, will remind readers of Miyazaki’s fantastic “Spirited Away.”

“Play Ball,” by Nunzio Defilippis, Christina Weir, and Jackie Lewis.

When Dashiell Brody moves to a new town and starts from scratch at a new high school, she doesn’t care whether she fits in. She only cares that there’s a championship level baseball team, and she knows she’s a shoe-in for it. Dashiell is a natural at softball – she’s played all her life, winning trophies and having fun. But in this school, at this time, there’s a chance she won’t be allowed to join the “boys’” team – and that would be unbearable to her. With the help of a teacher, she wins the right to audition for the team…and thanks to some mean skills, she makes the team. From here on, life ought to be perfect, right?

•••

The Juneau libraries’ Toddler and Storytimes are on hiatus through Jan. 7.

For information about upcoming programs, or to place a hold, visit www.juneau.org/library or call 586-5249.

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