What makes a good picture book? Is it brilliant rhyme, beautiful illustrations, a perfect story?
Well, My Heart is all of those (& more), and in my opinion, as essential of an addition to the shelf as Seuss, Sendak, or Silverstein.
Also: Check out Corinna's first, The Book of Mistakes!
So much love for this amazing fantasy that I put off reading for too long. Immediately after I finished The Brilliant Death, I turned back to the beginning and started it again (even though I pretty much never reread books). Yeah, it was that good.
See also: Italian Family dramurders, a brilliant magic system, and genderqueer romance. Please, for your own sake, read The Brilliant Death.
What an out-of-this-world (pun both intended and not) experience Open Earth is! It's still so rare for books to feature non-monogamous relationships AND queer AND POC characters that this is basically a goldmine. Every character is so unique and the challenged they face are, well, very down to earth and definitely relatable. So much love for Open Earth!
This is Not a Werewolf Story, because Raul, our main protagonist, is not a werewolf. A super fun read that features a boarding school, strange woods, a stranger lighthouse, familial mysteries, secret codes, and of being a kid. Oh, and escaping into said strange wood to turn into a wolf every weekend (when all the other kids go home). What's not to love?
A heartwarming tale of love, loss, and nature paired with vivid illustrations makes Katie O'Neill's third book another instant hit.
I feel like this is the fantasy-romance I've been waiting forever for. Resilient, complex female characters fighting back against their significantly more powerful oppressors, AND a queer romance, AND incorporation of multiple Asian cultures without being appropriative? Sign me the f' up for the whole damn series.
Moonstruck is one of the cutest graphic novels i've ever read! A super sweet romance between two werewolf girls, coffee shop shenanigans, and a fantasy adventure wrapped up in one beautiful graphica. I loved the realistic exploration of identity and all of the supporting cast! Definitely cannot wait for volume 2.
In a time when it's all too easy to get overwhelmed with everything that's going on in the world, and when despair hangs like a dark cloud over us all, remembering Why and For What we make art is a constant struggle. Beth is a shining beacon and has so much wisdom -- applicable to all, not just "artists" -- to impart in this book that I couldn't help but buy several copies to share with my [artist] friends.
Julia is d/Deaf, Indian-American, and most importantly, an Amazing artist. The fact that her primary medium is spray paint and graffiti murals is beside the point. Except when she gets kicked out of her School for the Deaf for covering up a slur of her best friend and is forced to go to public school.
Gardner does all the illustrations for Julia's art and hand signs, and let me just say that they are INCREDIBLE. Julia's tenacity and refusal to be ashamed of her differences are inspiring and a much needed voice in books - YA especially.
This! Book! Is! Important!!!
In this day and age of "newsworthy" [sexual] harrassment and assault, consent is a subject that seems to be shrouded in mystery and confusion. But fear not! What Does Consent Really Mean is an easily understood guide to consent (in comic format!) that should be read by everyone, especially if you're a young adult, someone who has difficulties saying no when uncomfortable with a situation you're in, or if you're a cis male. Sorry (not sorry) guys, gotta call you out and keep you accountable and all that.
Magic and pirates and sharpshooters and secret societies, oh my! The Reader is a fantastical book (and a book-in-a-book) with hidden messages and spectacular details throughout, combined with a fascinating story in a world where books do not exist, and where the written word holds power unseen and unknown by most. A good mixture of action, adventure, and self reflection that makes this more than just another mindless fantasy.
As someone who grew up in an Asian-American family in Southern California (Rowland Heights/Diamond Bar, anyone?) and then in Beijing (7 years) and Taipei (2 years), this is pretty much a book of recipes from my childhood.
I mean, you definitely can't get the full experience of shouting your order for jianbing over the sounds of thousands of people and cars surrounding to the woman masterfully throwing eggs with one hand on a 20" gas-powered skillet propped on the back of a cart outside the subway station at 7am in a city forever cloaked in smog, but this comes pretty close.
I love everything about My Lesbian Experience. Nagata is extremely open about her struggle with mental illness and unfulfilled need for human connection in a resoundingly familiar way for anyone with any sort of developmental disorders or social anxiety. The traditional manga-style drawings help to further convey her sense of mental infancy that is at odds with her physical body and societal expectations - a feeling that isn't explored much outside of studies on autism. A highly empathetic must-read, especially for anyone interested in "abnormal" human psyche.
Shel Silverstein for adults. Perfect for those days when you feel like shit and can't muster up the (physical) energy to do anything but lay in bed, or the (mental) energy to love yourself.
Wonderfully therapeutic in its gallows humor and satirization of anxiety.
A short but sweet story of two unconventional princesses discovering themselves and their happily ever after: Princess Amira, valiantly brave and with kick-butt hair, and Princess Sadie, warmhearted, problem-solver, and beloved by all.
AKA, my two favorite princesses.
If Grindr/Tinder were a book, this book would be it. A fantastic look into gay hookup/dating culture in the age of the Smart Phone; each story is its own, but all weave together to map out the paths that characters take and the web of relationships they form.
Seriously though... this book is too real.
Nicole Georges' workds speak straight to the soul, and especially so in Fetch, her new graphic memoir about a misbehaving dog that she rescued at 16 and who, in turn, rescued her over the next 15 years. Extremely heartfelt and moving, Fetch is an empathetically told tale that all dog-lovers can respect and find comfort in.
Jillian Tamaki is as strange and evocative as ever in her newest collection of short stories that feel like you've been thrown into a loop of endless Mandala Effects while having an existential crisis.
Super creepy and weird. Very Stranger Things-esque. Addison is hardcore AF and the things she is willing to put herself through in order to make it in this incredible post-apocalyptic world that Westerfeld has made had my palms sweating with anxiety.
Did I mention the twisted spirit-wolf-creature? Yeah. Totally awesome and terrifying. Ditto with the distorted color palette and reality in the Spill Zone. Definitely a modern cult classic -- I can't wait for the next book to come out!
"brown is not a barrier you are
and when you say don't play the race card
you mean don't call me white"
To my fellow POC: Read this, then give it to your white friends to read.
To all the white folks: If there's one book of poetry you read this year, or in your entire lifetime, read this one.
Saucy and flossy, flossy. Entirely shocking, brazenly lush, and on a whole 'nother level of sociopathic behavior that still managed to catch me off guard when I was thoroughly expecting it. This definitely isn't a book for everyone - it's ruthless, ambitious, and erotic in a way that will inspire and disgust you... but in the best way, as only books can do.
I first discovered Cam through a video a friend shared with me, and knew immediately that I had to have his book. I wasn't wrong.
Transit made my heart pound and sent shivers across my entire body and all the other cliché reactions to a thing so moving and even now I feel myself tearing up just thinking about it. Lyrically beautiful and profoundly harrowing, every word carries the weight of the struggles of being a queer black person in America today. A modern masterpiece that is not to be missed.
A simple book about making mistakes [in art], but not letting them get in the way of creative process.
Or, in the words of Bob Ross, "There are no mistakes, only happy accidents."
WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO READ THIS OH MY GOD IT'S SO GOOD.
So as I was reading Firebug, I found myself snapping pictures of parts of it to send to my girlfriend, the writing was so good. Before I was even halfway through it (about 15 pics later), she had insisted that I get her her own copy, which she proceeded to devour and demand that I get her the sequel (Pyromantic). 24 hours later, I get a text:
"Is there going to be another sequel?"
Sarah Kay is phenomenal, both on stage and on page.
She might also be the least pretentious poet I've ever read (or heard).
Looking for the perfect graduation gift for that young woman in your life, but don't want to go for the clichéd Oh, the Places You'll Go? Look no further, for Sarah Kay's The Type is the foolproof book of inspiration and affirmation with beautiful illustrations accompanying powerful words (and, you're guaranteed not to have the same gift as anyone else! Not to mention brownie points for Sarah Kay.)
Vellitt Boe is no stranger to the Call To Adventure.
Vellitt Boe might be scared, but she'll venture forth without hesitation regardless.
After all, Vellitt Boe hasa world to save, and gods be damned, she's going to do it.
Kij Johnson's newest novella, heavily influenced by H. P. Lovecraft (The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath in particular), stars a retired-adventurer-turned-professor who follows the Hero's Journey to save a wayward student from the waking realm and subsequentially, her world from its tempestuous gods.
ANARCHY FOR US ALL.
(Okay but seriously there is some very good life advice in here.)
Hands down my favorite children's illustrated book of 2017 and easily in my all-time top 10.
Sweet and unassuming, This Is How It Always Is explores the strength of familial bonds with tender love and sharp wit. I fell in love with the eccentric Walsh-Adams clan (particularly Poppy) and felt my heart break over the hardships that plagued them as the result of having a "non-traditional" family. A heartwarmingly empathetic debut.
A beautifully written story on friendship, grief, loss, and healing with a generous helping of mystery and suspense thrown into the mix. Every character and environment is poppin'-off-the-page real, to the point where I could almost feel the muggy Georgia summer, even though it was 25* out and my hands were frozen numb from holding the book. (I couldn't put it down after I picked it back up.)
I've probably read Cannibal three times through by now, but still manage to glean something new with each reading. Sinclair has opened my empathy to a culture that is otherwise inaccessible to me, boldly challenging xenophobia with vibrant and unapologetically heavy imagery.
Sinclair is a classic-in-waiting and I cannot wait for the day she is taught alongside Maya Angelou and James Baldwin.
The events that inspired Human Acts took place more than two decades ago, but still sits uncomfortably close to home. Han Kang's third translated novel holds nothing back in this fictional retelling of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising in S. Korea that lead to a massacre of hundreds of civilian protesters in an attempt to suppress civil unrest in the city, and of the aftermath in which future generations are almost blissfully unaware of the atrocities that occurred just 20 years prior.This wasn't an easy book to stomach, but an absolutely necessary read, especially given these times when history seems insistent on repeating itself.
A stunning debut pioneering in its accurate portrayal of a first generation Chinese immigrant family (refreshingly free of stereotypes) and the pressure of the expectations, both societal and familial, forced upon them in a contradiction of identity. Within the first page, I was drawn to Fu's lyrical writing and vibrant characters that gradually intertwined with quiet brilliance and wit.Fu explores the debacle of what life is when constricted to a suffocating outlook of self-denial - what are we willing to sacrifice and suffer though in order for a few sparing moments of authenticity and the happiness it brings? Is complacency all we can accept when faced with overwhelming fear?All in all, an essential and engrossing read from an author whose further works I will be keeping an eye out for.
This is one of my favorite books of 2016. Mark Seliger (whose works you have undoubtedly seen on the covers of Time Magazine, Rolling Stones, and GQ) does a phenomenal job of capturing both the portraiture and resilience of the trans people of one of New York's most prominent LGBTQ communities.
It took all of 3 pages for me to fall in love with Lunella Lafayette. (Yes, it was the rollerskate-shoes. I've dreamt of having shoes like that since I was a small child.)
And get this - canonically, Moongirl is the smartest character in the Marvel Universe. (Take that, Amadeus Cho!)
Dystopian fiction that will resonate well with fans of Black Mirror, Children of Men, and Fahrenheit 451; every story held me spellbound and fully immersed in a world that I was reluctant to leave afterward.
This is, quite possibly, the rawest and most brutally honest collection of modern poetry on femininity, love, trauma, loss, and healing that I have read in a very long time. This is a book that I desperately needed when I was younger and not nearly as jaded as I am now, and a book that I can appreciate now, as that jaded person.
An absolute must read for every young woman and highly recommended for anyone who has ever been in love.
(I lent my copy of milk and honey to one of my friends and haven't gotten it back yet.)
If there's anything that every LGBTQ person of this day and age must know, it is that the small amount of freedom we have now has been paid for by the blood, sweat, and tears of the generations before us.
Two Boys Kissing is about more than just, well, two boys kissing. It's about being able to take a step back into the shoes of those prior generations and appreciate how far we have come in terms of achieving equality. No, it's nowhere near perfect, and no, this shouldn't even be an issue in the first place, but the fact that, yes, two boys are able to kiss in public, is a wonder to those who died in hate.
This is a book that gives you appreciation for how far we have come - for the fact that we cannot, and will not, be furthermore silenced.
This is more than your average coming-of-age tale - this is a story that teaches about compassion, mental illness, tolerance, and gender issues.
An absolute must-read and essential addition to every middle school library.
It's a rare thing indeed when both child and adult alike can enjoy an illustrated book over and over again.
This is one of those books.
This is one of the most amazing works of contemporary fantasy that I have ever read. ADSoM features all of my my favorite things - magicky goodness, alternate universe hopping, crossdressing, thieves, crossdressing thieves, badass female characters, crazy kings, crazier queens, power struggles, very little romance, more magic, and an awesome cloak - all wrapped together in this cozy bundle of a book.