Graphic novels and easy reads!

I’m very blessed that I’ve been able to read a lot lately. Aside from reading books that are related to each other or share a theme, I’m also reading one-off books just for fun! Graphic novels fit this niche perfectly. Sometimes you just need something to break the pattern and get you out of a reading rut.

I LOVED Brazen by Penelope Bagieu. I can’t say enough good things about it because each biography blew me away. She illustrates the stories of women, some famous, some unknown, who have done extraordinary things in their lives. There have been a lot of books like this, but this one stands out because the women in it are well rounded — they are flawed, they like/marry the wrong men, they grow old and more than a few of them have done sketchy things in their lives. That made their stories more powerful because they are real. Even powerful and inspirational make mistakes. We shouldn’t aspire to be perfect women, but women who are confident in our skins and BOLD <3.

Jedi Academy is a fun series for a non-Star Wars fan like me because I like the school humor part of it. My favorite character is nerdy and allergic (Allergenic?) Artemis. He is pretty much me. I love Jedi Academy because it would make kids feel like they are living the Star Wars life in their own schools and homes. Star Wars characters, they’re just like us!

The illustrations in Level Up are cute, but the story is a little bit dark. Gene Luen Yang is one of the Asian-Am graphic novel OGs, and Thien Pham did a wonderful job illustrating the story here. Despite the cover it’s really not a story about video games at all, but rather living up to expectations or following them because you choose to. It made me feel uncertain and to be honest, a little unsettled. Many Asian dramas have a way of making you feel that.

On a totally different note, it’s always a joy to read early reader chapter books. Just look at the title! How could you not feel good after reading My Heart is Laughing and When I am Happiest. I love Dani and Ella’s stories even when their lives are full of sadness. It kind of reminds of Kate DiCamillo’s books where the children have super sad lives but still are full of hope.

 

Kidlit rules!

I really love good old-fashioned kid lit! There are more fantasy and high drama books for kids now, and I’m glad more books are respectful of children as intelligent readers with life experience, and able to handle mature topics. But it’s so refreshing to read a chapter book where the MC is just that– a second or third grader navigating elementary school.

Kevin Henkes is really a pro at this because his novels are all realistic and very quiet. #quietMG ? A classmate’s death lurks in the background of Olive’s Ocean, but it isn’t a mystery and it’s more about how Olive is going through an uncertain time in her life. In fact, all three of the novels, Junonia, The Year of Billy Miller, and Olive’s Ocean are about a time when the kid is going through a lot of changes, even if they might be subtle. Billy is just adorable. The little illustrations!!!!!! I like how the book is divided into four parts for Mom, Dad, Teacher, and Sister. The bat diorama is super cute. Love Billy <3. There is actually something dark about Olive and Junonia because there is a hint of betrayal and the girl starting to see that the world isn’t what it seems. That is everything on the cusp of of becoming a teen. The world no longer feels trustworthy. I’m reading everything written by Kevin Henkes.

I LOVED Patti Kim’s I’m OK. Instant favorite for me. OK Lee is everything to me. He comes up with a business plan to braid hair to get money. He enters a talent show to win $100. He camps out on his own in a vacant house that his dad had wanted. He is just the best and Patti Kim’s writing is laugh-out-loud funny in some parts. I recommend everyone to read I’m OK because it captures what it means to be an Asian boy in today’s elementary school pretty well. School is cruel, kids are mean and a mess, and life is hard. Does ANYTHING change??! All my life I am OK. Good to know I’m not alone.

Lastly, I’ve always been a fan of chapter/early reader books with girls and their shenanigans. My Happy Life is just that! Dani is happy even though her life goes off the rails, with a mom who passes away from sickness and a best friend who moves away. But she is happy and I continued reading the other books!

BONUS: These books match perfectly with the bow meals I was having:

Kidlit rules because it’s realistic.

Kidlit rules because it’s funny.

Kidlit rules because it speaks to kids and adults.

Kidlit rules because it’s hopeful.

Kidlit rules because children deserve a refuge.

I loved all of these books.