Dear World by Bana Alabad

dear world

Originally published in: 2017

What’s it about: A child’s account of surviving and escaping the ongoing war in Syria.

What made me pick it up: Bana Alabed’s pleas for peace and assistance reached the world through Twitter, but I knew her book would tell a more complete story.

My favorite things: Bana’s clear voice is heartwrenching, a reminder to care for refugees. Her mother, Fatemah, includes essays written for Bana, explaining her point of view and her experiences. Their words in concert with each other serve to humanize the numbers and news reports and give a personal story to the images of Syrian children that have circulated widely.

Who it’s great for:  Adults and teens trying to understand the war in Syria. Readers who to understand what the day to day struggle is like in the Syrian Civil War, and those wanting to build empathy for refugees.

Abby’s rating: four shells

Find this in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).


Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story by Peter Bagge


Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A graphic biography following the never dull life of Zora Neale Hurston.

What made me pick it up: I love reading graphic memoirs and biographies, so this was a must-read for me.

My favorite things: Bagge introduces the biography by explaining some of his choices and how he came to write it, which I appreciated. I also enjoyed delving into the extensive background information at the end that gives more insight into some the supporting cast of Hurston’s life. The biography itself was fast-paced and fun, hitting the highs and lows of her life with equal interest. It’s a fun way to learn about what of the great American writers of the 20th century.

Who it’s great for: Hurston fans looking to learn more about her adventurous life. Fans of graphic biographies and non-fiction.

Abby’s rating: three-and-a-half-shells

Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.

Angel Catbird Vol. 1 by Margaret Atwood


Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A new superhero is born when a genetic engineer, along with an owl and a cat, accidentally becomes his own next project.

What made me pick it up: A Margaret Atwood comic book sounded too good, and weird, to pass up.

My favorite things: Atwood has a strong interest in animal welfare, particularly that of cats and birds, and this comes out in the form of weird footnotes with stats about both. It’s odd but charming. The amusing cast of characters doesn’t fail to deliver and the overall effect is campy and fun. Like all good superheroes, Angel Catbird is plagued by a complicated inner struggle-mostly between his cat and bird instincts.

Who it’s great for: I loved this, but if you’re looking for a comic that takes itself seriously at all then Angel Catbird is not the superhero for you. Good for fans of campy older comics and cat lovers who want to read about their furry friends as heroes.

Abby’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells

Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.

Princess Jellyfish #1 by Akiko Higashimura

princess jellyfish

Originally published in: 2016 (Japanese edition 2009)

What it’s about: A house full of geeky manga-illustrating women is shaken up by the threat to sell and raze their home and by a pair of dreamy brothers infiltrating their women-only world.

What made me pick it up: I’m not a big manga reader, but a colleague recommended it to me promising that it was a good choice for readers not used to manga.

My favorite things: This is a cute story with fun characters and nothing too far off the wall. I love the Higashimura’s ability to poke fun at herself and her world of manga creation through these characters.

Who it’s great for: Good for readers who are interested in manga but don’t know where to start.

Abby’s rating: three-and-a-half-shells

Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.

Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A picture book of poems written in the style of famous poets to celebrate those poets’ work.

What made me pick it up: I had read two of Alexander’s other books and enjoyed them so when I saw he was releasing this project I put my name on the list.

My favorite things: The illustrations in here are amazingly vibrant, not surprisingly since Ekua Holmes’ first illustration project was given a Caldecott Honor in 2016. These images manage to channel each poet just as much as the writing does. And the writing is quite good. I wasn’t familiar with all the poets but the ones I was, I can say for certain that these tribute poems are well done and match the style.

Who it’s great for: Young readers who want to know more about poetry and poets. Fans of exquisite illustrations.

Erica’s rating: four-shells

Get a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or your local library.