Monthly Archives: October 2007

Graphic Novels

Last night, folks were asking questions about graphic novels, what they are, some titles, are they good for kids to read, etc.  I wasn’t very coherent, I’m afraid, in my explanations, and I plead a blocked-up ear throwing me off-balance this week.   Here is some information about graphics:

First, start with the Wikipedia article:  This article traces the art back to the medieval woodcuts, then up to the 1920’s and the start of comic strips.  The artist Will Eisner was the first to describe a book as a “graphic novel” and the Eisner award for best graphic given each year is named for him.    Another good website is No Flying, No Tights (  It divides the list of suggested titles into those for children, and those for older teens and adults.  It is important to distinguish between the two.  A title for an adult or older teen may possibly be too violent or have sexual imagery that you might not want your child to see.  However, this does not mean that the GN is bad; it’s just not suitable for children.  Another good site for a list is the ALA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens   This just started in 2007, mainly due to the popularity of graphics.

If you remember the Tintin books, you already know a graphic novel.  Tintin, and the Asterix and Obelix comics are early versions of GN’s, as are all those Classics Illustrated comics we read back in the day.

Here is my list of favorites.  If there is an * after the title, we own this one here at Plumb.  Otherwise, the title is something I’ve read, or something I own, and we can try to get it for you.

Titles for younger ages:

Babymouse series *, by Jennifer Holm (Acutally Jen’s Favorite).   Babymouse is a sassy young mouse with all of the dreams and desires of a regular girl.

crilley_akikocover1.jpgAkiko series, by Mark Crilley.  Akiko is a fourth grader who has adventures with a ragtag group of space “invaders” from the planet Smoo.  I like the incompetent, bombastic pirate Spuckler and his robot Gax.

Bone series*, by Jeff Smith.  Three characters are wandering the countryside, and get involved with a group of villagers and their fight against the stupid stupid rat creatures.  However, there is more to this than meets the eye.  This is better for older kids.

Girl Genius, by Phil and Kaja Foglio.   This comes from a genre known as steam punk, Jules Verne-like science fiction.  Agatha Heterodyne uses her incredible knowledge of engineering, and her incredible luck, to get out of tricky situations.  Also for older kids/younger teens.

Leave It to Chance, by James Robinson.  Combine Nancy Drew with the Night Stalker and you have the adventures of Chance Falconer, 14-year-old detective. leaveittochancejpeg.jpg

Older Teens and Adults

Grease Monkey*, by Tim Eldred.   Robin Plotnick is assigned to the space station Fist of Earth to work as a mechanic to a troop of space fighters.  His boss is a genetically enhanced gorilla.  Incredible art, great fight scenes, and lots of heart.  I love this book!grease-monkey.jpg

Castle Waiting, by Linda Medley.  Castle Waiting is a refuge for those who want to hide from the world, like a pregnant woman hiding from an abusive relationship, bearded ladies who used to be nuns, and a talking horse.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1, by Alan Moore.  Mina Harker gathers together a group of heroes from literature, such as Alan Quartermaine, the Invisible Man, and Dr. Jekyll, at the behest of the mysterious M, who is really Mycroft Holmes.  Full of detail, violent, and has sexual images.  Forget the movie, this book is MUCH better!  There is a Vol. 2, but it’s not quite as good as the first.

Sandman series, by Neil Gaiman.  This series is complex, beautiful, at times violent and confusing.  Death and his siblings confound humans and quarrel among themselves.   Artsy, moody older teens will like this series, if they don’t already know about it.  My favorite is Vol. 8, The World’s End, about an inn where travelers tell stories while the wait out a snowstorm.

Persepolis*; Persepolis 2, by Marjane Satrapi.  This is a memoir of sorts, about a girl growing up in Iran at the time of the Islamic Revolution.  She is sent to boarding school in Europe, which is the subject of the sequel.   The first book is being made into a movie.

Promethea series, by Alan Moore.  A teenage girl is obsessed with stories about the goddess Promethea until she takes on the role, becoming another in a series of Prometheas throughout history.  Alan Moore (who also wrote V for Vendetta, the Watchmen and many other fantastic GNs) constantly pushes the envelope in terms of layout, artwork, sexuality, what every you want.  Very much for adults, but worth looking at.

Maus; Maus II, by  Art Spiegelman.  The story of the Holocaust, but the Jews are mice, the Nazi’s are cats.  Tough to read, in places.

In the Shadow of No Towers, by Art Spiegelman.  Spiegelman lived very near the World Trade Center, and uses an interesting format to tell the story of that time.  He combines a love for older comics and a highly personal view of that fateful day, with criticism of the current administration in a large board book.

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Cafe Parlez for October – Frankenstein

Tonight’s book is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and the Cafe Parlez version of “trick or treat”: the cookie exchange.  Folks are gathering and bringing in their cookies.  So far, there are snickers cookies, pumpkin cookies, chocolate chip, Halloween sugar cookies, “yummy snacks” (pretzel sticks covered with chocolate), frosted pumpkin cookies, peanut butter cookies, and more coming.  We’ve had a donation of Halloween decorations to do with Frankenstein, like  Frankenstein plates, cups, a nifty keychain, and other stuff.  Thanks!

J is doing housekeeping items.  Get your votes in NOW!  We will have the list for 2008 for next month’s meeting.  Also, this month is the anniversary of Cafe Parlez. 

Comparing it with the movie, there is nothing of the novel in the movie except the title and the main character.  People had problems reading this book.  Where was the monster?  In the Arctic?  Why weren’t the sled dogs afraid of him?  And what’s up with the narrator?  Another point brought up: Mary Shelley is the daughter of a noted feminist, and there are no strong female characters in the book. 

M thinks Frankenstein is a jerk.  He goes on and on feeling bad while the monster runs rampant.  Frankenstein is always sick, fainting, with a fever.  Why did the monster kill the kid and not Victor?  Because it’s the way to get to someone, to harm what and who they love.  Victor is very self-centered.  When the monster threatens to see him on his wedding night, Victor thinks he is referring to himself, not Elizabeth. 

And why did Victor not see what he was doing when he was creating the monster?  The monster comes to life and suddenly he’s surprised and horrified.  And how did he make the “companion”? 

J wants to believe that Victor was hallucinating the whole thing, that none of it happened.  Drug-induced.   She is showing the Penguin edition of Frankenstein that contains a couple of the other stories that were part of the contest that Mary Shelley participated in to write Frankenstein.  Did Shelley have a part in the editing?  There were various editions and revisions by Shelley, so there were at least two versions of it.

Who is the actual monster in Frankenstein?  ML doesn’t like him and would smack him if he was here.  Before Victor created the monster, he was normal, but had too much ego.  When his professors laughed at him, he wanted revenge and to prove that they were wrong.  “I’ll show them!”  Never a good thing.  He was naive and didn’t expect the result.  Did he learn from this?  No, because he started to make a second one. 

What is with all of the coincidences surrounding the death of Victor’s friend?   

The monster in the movie is more of a figure for pity than the monster in the book.  Is the monster in the book more responsible for his actions?  His is more civilized,  and with civilization comes responsibility.  He wasn’t responsible for his existence, but he is responsible for his actions.

What is the purpose of having Robert Walton tell Victor’s story?  Are they both the same guys, ambitious to the point of danger?  J says he is Shackelton.  He’s not nearly as crazy as Victor. 

What qualities make us human?  Empathy, feelings. 

What makes the novel a classic?  What makes any novel a classic?  Maybe because it was the first of its kind, written by a woman and a 19-year-old.  And maybe it’s the influence of the movies that were made from these books.  They are part of our culture. 

There has been a discussion on the graphic novel version, and about graphic novels in general. 

Next month’s book is “Until I Have No Country”, a novel about King Philip’s War, and the date is November 29, the week after Thanksgiving.  There are not so many copies, so please share!

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New “Book Page” just in

The November issue of Book Page has just arrived and it’s chock-full of book suggestions and news.  Just by reading the first page, I’ve learned that Diana Gabaldon is planning two more books in the Outlander series, with the next one due to come out in fall 2009.  Other features include an interview with Judith Viorst, reviews of a new Patricia Cornwell book and the biography of Charles Schulz, and a large holiday preview section.    There are also some of the October issue left to pick up.  Book Page is free and is sponsored by the Friends.

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Upcoming Program

moonlightharvestcover.jpgOn Thursday November 1 at 7:00, Mr. Edward Lodi of Rock Village Publishing will be here talking about his new book, Moonlight Harvest: Haunted Cranberry Bogs of Cape Cod and Plymouth County, and also talking about his new audio CD The Old Peculiar House.  The CD features 17 ghost stories, mostly about a haunted house in Rochester.  Refreshments will be served, and books will be available for purchase.  Mr. Lodi will be signing books after the talk.    This program is sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

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gingerbread-man.gifOctober is National Cookie Month!  Come in and vote for your favorite cookie, and maybe check out a cookbook to learn a recipe for a new favorite.  Cookie winners will be posted here, and served on November 1 at the library.

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More new arrivals

Some new titles just delivered:

Run, by Ann Patchett

Interred with Their Bones, by Jennifer Lee Carrell

Dead Heat, by Dick Francis

Schooled, by Gordon Korman (YA fiction)

Playing for Pizza, by John Grisham

The Choice, by Nicholas Sparks

Kingdom of Bones, by Stephen Gallagher

High Season, by Jan Loomis

Landlord’s Black Eyed Daughter, by Mary Ellen Dennis

Dexter in the Black, by Jeff Lindsay

Making Money, by Terry Pratchett (a Discworld novel)

Trespass, by Valerie Martin

The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman (non-fiction)

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