It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 12/2/19

The back matter of Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale begins with three pages of resources for suicide prevention, domestic violence, self-harm, and animal cruelty. That should give you a window into what you’re getting yourself into with the first volume of DC’s new Catwoman series, written by Lauren Myracle and illustrated by Isaac Goodhart.

The opening scenes are hard to read—child abuse, emotional abuse, and then that animal cruelty scene. (Mild spoiler alert: what you think is going to happen to the kitten happens to the kitten.) I had to put the book down for a day and reflect. But then I got back to it and ended up enjoying it, though I would really like to see Selina and some of the other children in this story get some help for their trauma. I guess it’s a bit of a dud as a superhero comic if the climax to the story is that everyone finds a really great therapist and starts weekly sessions?

Although there is some forward plot development, this first volume mostly introduces us to Selina and sketches in her background, establishes her relationship with Bruce Wayne, and connects her with a small group of fellow misfits, one of whom teaches her parkour.

Charlotte Before Jane Eyre is a portrait of the artist as a young woman. We get to know Charlotte Bronte before she has the idea for Jane Eyre and begins writing her most famous novel. Glynnis Fawkes blends Charlotte’s own words from her letters and juvenilia with imagined dialogue to create a vivid picture of a family obsessed with storytelling and writing. I couldn’t stop reading biographies of the Brontes when I was in my 20s, and this book reminded me of all that I found so fascinating about them. I liked the monochromatic color palette and art style as well.

Dear Justice League surprised me with its premise—DC superheroes answer fan mail and emails—and its clever storytelling. Each fan question leads a hero on a different quest or down a different memory lane. What’s most fun about this collection is how each super hero reveals himself or herself to be all too human, capable of making silly mistakes, getting into trouble, and needing a do-over. Though each story works individually as a short, there is a plot line that runs through all of the stories as well, tying them together. The other DC comics for kids that I’ve read have been really, really kidsy. But this one has appeal for all readers.

Clyde is a scowly little bear who thinks mean thoughts and performs mean deeds. I think his determination to be a bad guy is supposed to be funny, but I found that this story lacked heart. There is probably some kid appeal given that there are farts, boogers, and an unexpectedly pugilistic rainbow butterfly. Not for me, though I appreciated the uncluttered panels.

I liked The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid more than I thought I would. It’s silly good fun about a kid who’s trying to figure out his origin story and knows only that it’s got to be a mix of swamp and science. He keeps a diary of his daily discoveries. The art is colorful and detailed. Is it a graphic novel? I would call it an illustrated novel instead. The art is there for comic and visual effect but only rarely tells the story sequentially.

Wait, What? mixes comic panels with informational writing to answer teens’ questions about gender, sexuality, body image, and consent, among other topics. The diverse group of friends featured in the comic panels ask every possible question about their bodies, their feelings, and their worries about sexuality. It’s sex ed that manages to be inclusive, comforting, encouraging, and even occasionally hilarious.

If you like vivid—VERY VIVID—images of dinosaurs fighting and eating each other, Cretaceous is going to be your jam. It’s 160 wordless pages of dinosaurs on the hunt for each other, battling for dominance and dinner. Blood is spilled and splattered often.

It’s hard to believe there are already so many volumes of Dana Simpson’s darling series about Phoebe and Her Unicorn. I read the first two and worried that I would have missed too much coming into number 9 without having read numbers 3-8. But no. Much like a Calvin and Hobbes comic collection, this series is one you can dip in and out of as you please, or as your Cybils judging demands. Unicorn Bowling is everything you expect from the series—adventure, humor, unicorn life lessons from Marigold Heavenly Nostrils herself.





7 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 12/2/19”

  1. Shaye Miller Avatar

    It sounds like my 14 year old is going to love Dear Justice League — I will have to hunt this one down for him soon. I’ve not yet read any of the Phoebe and Her Unicorn series, but I’m feeling certain Breena will eat these up. Looks like a nice length for a bedtime read. Plus, with so many books in the series it’ll keep us busy. Thanks for all these shares, Elisabeth!

  2. lindabaie Avatar

    Each one is new to me, Elisabeth. I don’t know why I missed the Myracle one. I’ve loved her books in the past. But it is hard to hear about. I have a friend who’s daughter is going through really hard times, so I know there are tough stories everywhere. The Justice League sounds like one my older granddaughter would like. She is the one who tries to help classmates always. Thanks much for all!

  3. cweichel Avatar

    I enjoyed reading about all these graphic novels this week. I’m on the finalist panel. There are so many interesting nonfiction graphic novels out there. Do they fit into the nonfiction category or graphic? I wonder if we might need to create a new category.

  4. aaroncleaveley Avatar

    Both my children dip in and out of Phoebe and one is in grade 7, reading her dystopian, YA novels before taking a break to sneak Phoebe in (a guilty pleasure for her). I am trying to validate it (only because I think she feels it needs to be- have I failed?). They are neat books. I have thought about picking up the Myracle book. The new YA superhero books have been really good. Thanks for the great post!

  5. shayladockweiler Avatar

    Dr. Ellington,
    I have to say that I have not heard of any of the books that you chose. A lot of them intrigue me and I will have to look into them. The one that caught my eye the most was ‘Under the Moon’. It seems like it touches on some pretty serious topics. It also seems like it brings the stories alive. I imagine that it was a challenge to finish the book. What book was your favorite from the list?

  6. Myra Garces-Bacsal Avatar

    Wow, I love the variety of the books that you shared this week. The Lauren Myracle is the one that caught my eye (I think I have her Shine still waiting to be read), and the biography of Charlotte Bronte! I remember loving the Brontes when I was in my teens/early 20s.

  7. cross4me Avatar

    Hi Dr. Ellington,
    Thanks for sharing such a diverse list of books. I’m suspecting that even though I have a son who is 22 years old, he may like to read “Dear Justice League.” Can you think of any other Justice League books my son may like? I think it is great when authors see a popular topic or theme, like unicorns or superheros and then write book about it! Once again this is just another way to encourage more readers!

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