March 19th, 2014

good mris pic

The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza, by James Kochalka (and a few other things)

Review copy provided by First Second Books.


You know how I said that Zita the Spacegirl could be enjoyed by all ages? The Glorkian Warrior…is not so much all ages humor. If you think peanut butter-clam pizza is funny, then this will probably be about your speed. It is silly, it is extremely silly, it is sillier than that. It has a Super Backpack who is the voice of reason–the Super Backpack Super-Ego, if you will. It is entirely possible that my seven-year-old goddaughter will be too mature for this book. I feel sure that it has an audience, because this kind of alien goofy banana joke humor always has an audience, but it’s the kind of audience that likes Gonk-goes-bonk jokes.


Ah, but! If you are looking for something for a small relative who has that sort of sense of humor, and you don’t want it to be toilet humor, this is not generally scatalogical. It’s very silly, and it’s sometimes gross, but the places where it’s gross are neither sexual nor scatalogical, so you can go forward with it, confident that the parent will not kill you for teaching the kid new poop jokes.


I read this very short graphic novel in something like ten minutes flat after sending my agent the latest draft of my latest novel and doing the page proofs for my latest Analog story with my latest writing Alec–wait, no, same Alec I’ve always written with. I just got caught up in all the latests. I also read my latest (arrrrgh! but it’s a good latest along with all the other good latests in this paragraph) story in the latest (I CANNOT STOP) issue of On Spec, also collaborative with Alec. This one is “The Young Necromancer’s Guide to Re-Capitation,” and we’re pretty pleased. You can get it from the nice folks at On Spec, I expect.


Anyway, after all those latests, I am feeling a bit like a puppet with cut strings, so a very silly, very short graphic novel was much more what I was up for than the large and heavy biography I was otherwise in the middle of reading. More when I can. Stay warm; that’s my big goal tonight.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

good mris pic

This One Summer, by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

Review copy provided by First Second Books.


This is more or less the exact opposite of The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza, as far as graphic novels for young people go, and it’s sort of amusing that the two arrived in one package. This One Summer is a moody coming of age story about a young girl and her family and friends, about the ways that she finds that the people she admires and the people she is mad at sometimes need to switch places for awhile, and that she doesn’t know quite everything she thinks she knows.


Rose and her parents come to the same cabin every year, and she’s friends with a younger girl there, Windy. I think that one of the things I like best about This One Summer is the way that it depicts the tension in Rose and Windy’s friendship, as Rose has gotten a little bit older and more sophisticated than Windy, and yet not quite as much older and more sophisticated as she hopes. Those delicate cusp moments are difficult to get across in a few drawings and lines of dialog, and the Tamakis pull it off perfectly. And Rose and Windy are in turn not quite old enough to be part of the circle of teenagers around the cabins–they’re on the outside looking in, and they don’t understand all of what they’re looking at, and the ways they try to make sense of it all can sometimes be self-serving, and sometimes cruel, but ultimately neither.


The same is true of Rose’s relationship with her parents: she has been dragged into their issues and did not ask to be, and she is not always perfectly understanding of that, as who could expect her to be. She is prickly and frustrated and herself, but ultimately she has a sense of who they are as a family, and who their family is to the world, that shines through.


This is very much a relationship book. The plot is quiet, though the girls are often not. While I frequently complain that there isn’t enough story in graphic novels, there’s as much story here as in many a YA novel with the same number of pages. The expressive faces and body language account for a great deal and carry through mute hurt and joy and much more.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux