YA Graphic Novel Picks for February

Graphic novels are so much fun to read. Here some new available titles:

LUNAR NEW YEAR LOVE STORY by Gene Luen Yang and LeUyen Pham (Illustrator)
(Graphic romance. 13-18)
Library Catalog

“Vietnamese American Valentina Tran loved Valentine’s Day until freshman year, when her handcrafted cards were mocked by classmates, and her father told her she was too old to still be making annual valentines on behalf of her long-dead mother. Then, during a surprise visit, her estranged paternal grandmother revealed a devastating family secret. Suddenly, Valentina’s invisible childhood companion, a sweet cupid she’d always called Saint V, transformed into an ominous specter, Saint Valentine. Now, two years later, a jaded Valentina suffers through a disastrous date, the revelation of another family secret, and Saint Valentine’s return. The spirit demands that she give up her heart forever to avoid the pain of loss; inspired by the spark she felt with a lion dancer at the Têt new year festival, Valentina bargains for a year to fall in love. Set against the backdrop of Oakland, California’s rich Asian American community, Valentina’s quest is full of swoony moments that will satisfy romance readers, while her fearless journey of personal growth will win over everyone else. Full-color spreads effectively use a range of color schemes to shift readers between past and present, realistic and supernatural, and are most impressive when capturing the frenetic energy of the lion dances. Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean words are woven throughout the text.”–Kirkus Reviews

Dr. Stone, Vol. 26 by Riichiro Inagaki, Boichi (Illustrator)
Library Catalog

“Gr 9 Up—High schooler Senku is one of the smartest human beings on the planet, and the world needs him now more than ever! When every living being on Earth is inexplicably turned to stone for millennia, science-savvy Senku doesn't miss a beat when he wakes up after thousands of years. Knowing that humanity must continue, Senku (with a little help from his friends) uses all the knowledge he possesses to rebuild and find out why everything happened in the first place. This is an absolutely special work, with an extremely thoughtful story (even if it is totally over the top and outrageous) and a fantastical setting. The book's characters are diverse and complex; readers will even empathize with the villain. While some of the science featured in the story is more wishful thinking than realistic, the explanations provided are convincing. The art is thorough and well done, and readers will marvel as much at the illustrations as at the writing. Senku doesn't spend chapter after chapter obtaining what he needs to become a legend as in most shonen manga; instead, he already possesses what's needed to survive in this situation. The anime's third season is scheduled to run in 2022. VERDICT An outstanding way to begin a series.”-School Library Journal

Witch Hat Atelier 1 by Kamome Shirahama
Library Catalog

“Coco wants to be a witch so bad! But witches are born, not made, and Coco was not made that way. When a witch visits her town and offers to magically repair a broken carriage, Coco sneaks a peek into the witch’s workroom and sees that spells are drawn, not cast. While attempting her own drawings, she unknowingly performs one of the forbidden spells, turning her mother to stone. Begging to be allowed to keep her memory and save her mother, Coco is accepted as an apprentice to the witch and taken to his atelier, where she is introduced to her fellow students. Working within a familiar trope, mangaka Shirahama depends on her readers to understand how quest stories work. The story jumps quickly into Coco’s adventure and is propelled into a plot twist that would normally take a couple of volumes to reach. This spareness of world building is easily forgiven, thanks to gorgeously detailed artwork, including a few full-color pages at the beginning of the book. With this book, the series is currently five volumes long and is ongoing in Japan, so purchasing further volumes is recommended. Fantastic fantasy for tweens and up. Grades 6-10.”–Booklist

My Clueless First Friend, Volume 01 by Taku Kawamura
Library Catalog

“Gr 6 Up—Nishimura has the misfortune of being referred to as “the grim reaper” by everyone in her class due to her intense stare and gloomy vibe. But when new kid Takada catches wind of this, he not only abstains from picking on Nishimura, but instead thinks the aura she possesses is super cool! Rather than making her feel bad, Takada wants to get closer to Nishimura in order to soak up some of her “gothic” qualities and become better acquainted as friends. By and large, this slice of life story is very sweet. Takada is a gentle (albeit a little “out to lunch”) character, who seems to genuinely care for the oft-heckled Nishimura, and wants her to feel better about herself. While one can rightfully debate as to whether or not Takada playing into the “grim reaper” persona that's been (let's face it) forcibly assigned to Nishimura is the best way to put an end to the obvious bullying that's going on, it's clear he means well. In the book's defense, Nishimura does eventually feel gratitude for Takada's silly interjections. Art is lighthearted and playful, fitting the overall tone of the narrative. The book's chapter lengths vary. Some are a handful of pages where the gag is quick; others are a more standard length for manga, where more sincere character development is able to take place. VERDICT While it's sometimes frustrating to see Nishimura's tormentors not truly put in their place, My Clueless First Friend does feature some very cute, likable characters that are earnestly trying to do their best to spread more kindness around.”—School Library Journal

The Darwin Incident 1 by Shun Umezawa
Library Catalog

“Gr 9 Up—Charlie is a humanzee—a hybrid born of a chimpanzee and a missing human doctor. Living in the suburbs of Missouri with his adoptive parents, Charlie is about to attend high school for the first time and just wants to be treated like an ordinary person. However, his life is anything but uncomplicated, as his fellow classmates just don't understand him. Factor in an animal rights organization with homicidal tendencies that's looking to recruit Charlie to their cause, and it's clear why Charlie's life may never be ordinary. This graphic novel is wonderful, intricate, compelling, and everything in between. It establishes itself as violent from the opening pages, and remains so with every turn of the page. The art is crisp and detailed. Umezawa does a nice job with American characters and settings, including some really swell, albeit few, New York City illustrations. Despite projecting a bored demeanor throughout the bulk of the volume, Charlie is a caring, mindful character whose views on the world will cause readers to think, as will most of the book's material. This fast-paced, exciting story effectively conveys that the world is far from a simple place to live in. It will get teens reading, while also getting them to think about hot button issues in the country. VERDICT A manga that not only reads great, but has plenty of depth to satisfy the cerebral manga fan who's looking for more than just a breezy read.”—School Library Journal

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