The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes, by Neil Gaiman

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Gaiman, Neil. The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes. New York, NY: DC Comics, 1991. Print.

Annotation: Foolish mortals attempt to conjure Death, but Death is not what they bring; it is Morpheus, whose kingdom is that of dreams. After a 70 year imprisonment, he must struggle to regain his kingdom and power.

Booktalk:

After 70 years, the Sandman is able to reach into a dream and escape his supernatural prison. With a parting spell for revenge, he leaves to set right his home and regain three talismans of his power that were lost when he was captured.

The first must be recovered from humans, who have been destroyed by its power. The next was sold to a demon, and has to be won back from hell. The final piece is being used against others by a man who has been twisted into a monster.

With epic themes and grisly depictions of other worlds, this is the first installment in a beloved classic for older teen readers.

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Bleach, by Tite Kubo

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Jonathan, 16, says “I really like manga, I read Bleach, Naruto, Love Hina, A.I. Love You, and Azumanga Daioh.”

Kubo, Tite. Bleach. San Francisco, CA: VIZ Media, LLC, 2004. Print.

Annotation: A teenager who can see ghosts takes on a new spiritual power that allows him to fight monsters in spirit form. There’s more to his friends than meets the eye, and his adventures continue to grow.

Booktalk: Ichigo Kurosaki knew he wasn’t normal. He’d seen ghosts his whole life, it was normal to him. He even helped them out when he could. But what kind of power causes that? And what else might be attracted to that power?

In the first volume of Bleach, we’re introduced to Ichigo and his ghosts; but also to the Soul Reapers, those who help the souls of the dead move on. It isn’t always simple though, and if a soul can’t let go of something here on earth, it can become a Hollow, a terrifying monster attracted to spiritual power. When a Hollow catches the scent of Ichigo’s power, he’s thrust into a new world. Soul Reaper Rukia must lend him her power so he can battle the Hollow that threatens his family. But will things ever be normal again?

This installment is just the beginning—for a glimpse at what the future holds for Ichigo and his friends, check out this fan-made trailer for the anime!

Maus, A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History, by Art Spiegelman

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Spiegelman, Art. Maus, A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History. New York, NY: Pantheon, 1986. Print.

Annotations: The author’s father tells the first part of his memories surrounding WWII. He seems to live a charmed life, but as a Jew in Poland at the beginning of the war, he soon finds himself on the run, trying to protect himself and his family however he can.

Maus isn’t just the story of a man who survived the Holocaust. It’s also the story of the author and his painful relationship with his father. Mixing time streams, we see Art visit with his father, Vladek, and during these visits Vladek narrates his story.

While Vladek describes his life before the war, and the slow crawl of the prejudice, hate, and danger everywhere he lives, we witness also his failed relationship with his second wife, and his inability to connect with his son.

The graphic novel medium allows us to connect to history in an entirely different way. Whether you’re a history buff, or someone who finds it a little hard to get into something that happened before you were born, Maus is the story for you.

Awards:

Max & Moritz Special Prize, 1990

Pulitzer Prize, 1992

Maus II, A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began, by Art Spiegelman

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Spiegelman, Art. Maus II, A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began. New York, NY: Pantheon, 1991.

Annotation: In the continuation of the Maus story, we follow Vladek through the concentration camps, his separation from his wife, his survival that seems almost based on luck, and his eventual release and pilgrimage back home and to America.

Booktalk:

In this continuation of Vladek’s story, he and his wife are now taken to the concentration camps. We’re given a clear picture of the devastation they faced every day, and how narrowly they survived.

Partway through the book, the story breaks off. During the production of the book, Vladek died. Between his death, the many familial tragedies Art is in touch with, and the pressure applied by the press regarding the first part of Maus, Art retreats from the writing and from everything else for awhile. Once again, Maus is about more than WWII, it’s about how hard it is to be a family at any time.

Awards:

Eisner Award, 1992

Harvey Award, 1992

Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction, 1992

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

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“I do read graphic novels, because I love looking at illustrations while following a storyline.” ~Faiha, 13

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit. Adapted by Charles Dixon & Sean Deming. Illustrated by David Wenzel. New York, NY: DelRay, 2001.

Annotation: Bilbo Baggins is a quiet, peaceful, well-behaved fellow; he certainly would never have an adventure. His luck turns, however, and he finds himself on the most adventurous of adventures—as companion to 13 dwarves and a wizard, on a quest against a giant dragon!

Booktalk:

Bilbo Baggins, a mild-mannered hobbit who lives in the country, thinks his day will be like any other. Things don’t often work out that way when wizards get involved.

Before long, he’s discovers he’s been recruited as a burglar for a group of dwarves seeking revenge against a dragon who stole their home and their gold.

On their way, they face giant spiders, wolves, goblins, and are even imprisoned by elves before they arrive at the mountain home of their ancestors, where the evil dragon Smaug sleeps on their piles of gold.

Will Bilbo take down the dragon, or are other forces at work? What else could come between the dwarves and their plans?

Travels of Thelonious: The Fog Mound, by Susan Schade and Jon Buller

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“Last year I took a graphic novel course in school so I read quite a few. I like them because you can read them quickly.”~Bella, 17

Schade, Susan, and Buller, Jon. Travels Of Thelonious:The Fog Mound. New York, NY: Aladdin, 2007.

Annotation: A lost chipmunk finds out that humans really did exist on Earth in the past. He and his new friends; a bear, a porcupine, and a lizard; try to fly a velocicopter to the utopic Fog Mound.

Booktalk:

Hi there! I’m Thelonious Chipmunk, how do you do? Did you meet my friends? The porcupine is Fitzgerald, he took care of me when I got to the City of Ruins by accident, washed down the river. And this is Olive—don’t be scared, where she’s from, even the bears are vegetarians! That’s where they want to go, to the Fog Mound where she lives! She’s just finishing up building this velocicopter so that they can fly over the deadly fog that surrounds the mountain. She’s going to drop me off in the Untamed Forest where I live. I can’t wait to tell my family what I’ve seen! But I’m not so sure I’m ready to be done traveling. We have to hurry to get out here, though, I think there was a spy…

Awards:

Great Lakes Great Books Master List

IRA/CBC Children’s Choices

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Note from the Underground, by Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza

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Lobdell, Scott & Nicieza, Fabian. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Note from the Underground. Illustrated by Cliff Richards, Will Conrad, Dave McCaig, & Clem Robins. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Comics, Inc., 2003.

Annotation: Buffy and the gang have been pulled underground, where she has to fight in a gladiator ring against an even crazier variety of foes than usual. Angel and Faith come to lend a hand, but there are more surprise faces from Buffy’s past.

Booktalk:

In this installment of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic series, Buffy and company are held in the old Initiative grounds. Apparently killing somebody once just isn’t good enough anymore, as spirits of old friends and old enemies are back in this place.

With some help from an old friend, Buffy escapes the gladiator ring in which she’s been kept, to stop a soul sucking drug operation and—most importantly—save her family.

With blasts from the past, both dead and alive, this one’s got quite the ensemble—great for master Buffy fans, but fun for anyone who wants to see a demon get its butt kicked.