Book Expo America 2015 (Part II)
On Thursday, May 28th, I was lucky enough to be released from my regular duties as a middle school librarian so I could hop over to the City and spend a day at Book Expo America.
I walked up and down the Convention Floor for five hours without a break. I only felt it when I stopped. But it was worth seeing everything that I did. Up next: Fantasy, adventure, and supernatural, which are always popular genres in graphic novels.
At Candlewick I saw an excerpt from Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll, which is about a young girl who seeks out Baba Yaga and looks like it’s going an exciting read. It seems to mix folklore with the modern day world quite well. Look for it in August.
At Top Shelf, they were showing off Maddy Kettle and the Adventure of the Thimblewitch, which was released last year. It’s about a girl who has to save her parents after they are turned into kangaroo rats by the Thimblewitch.
At PaperCutz they were highlighting Teknophage: the Complete Comics by Rick Veitch and Bryan Talbot. Created by Neil Gaiman, this collection has a lot of vivid colors and a very ugly dinosaur with gnashing teeth on almost every page.
Papercutz is also adding an illustrated novel with comic bits interspersed throughout the text. The book, which is due out in November 2015, is called Scarlett: Star on the Run and is about a talking cat that’s a movie star abused by her producer. When opportunity knocks, Scarlett runs off and adventure ensues.
At Capstone I was excited to see a new title by Kean Soo that is due out this August. Capstone already brought back Soo’s two-volume Jellaby series. (Is two titles a series?) But his latest title, March Grand Prix, features adorable rabbits, lots of cars, and action in pastel tones. Capstone continues to rebind single-issue comics from DC, which do very well in my library. They were busily promoting DC Super Heroes Origami, by John Montroll. This title is bursting with all sorts of origami that fold into superheroes or their accessories. The books will come with pre-printed origami paper, though there will be library editions available without the specialized paper.
AMP Kids is an imprint of Andrews McMeel, and I continue to love their array of titles. They specialize, mostly, in comic strip collections, but I love the layout of their books and their clean crisp design. You can already find Phoebe and her Unicorn on your shelves, and a second volume with these delightful characters, Unicorn on a Roll, is already out. Big Nate is probably AMP Kids most popular character. The blurb in their catalog says that Lincoln Peirce has been drawing Big Nate for over 20 years, so that should make for plenty more comic strip collections. The latest title on sale is Big Nate: Say Good-Bye to Dork City and a new collection is coming in September, Big Nate: Welcome to My World. The publisher has also put out a number of illustrated novels, much like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Format. They have even added G-Man to the list with the G-Man Super Journal. Chris Giarrusso has really creative and fun characters that young readers will enjoy. A second volume is due out February of next year, and his regular-format comics are published by IDW.
When I stopped by the NBM booth, I wasn’t really expecting to see anything that is of “kid interest.” But there are a few titles for teens that might be be for a younger audience. In their educational section is a series by Margareet de Heer called Discovery in Comics. Previous topics are philosophy and science, but the most recent topic is religion. In the comics-lit category is Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker by Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering, which is about a teenager who lives in the Bronx and is trying to leave gang life. As he does, he discovers that his family are crypto Jews and he seeks out to learn more about his heritage.
As always, I’ve noticed many comic inspired novels. Capstone was showcasing their latest release: Fallout by Gwenda Bond. Lois Lane is new to Metropolis and gets swept into a mystery that she feels she has to solve. I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest is another mystery which involves a webcomic artist who was presumed dead.
The highlight of my day was when I had the opportunity to talk to Nathan Hale. I’ve become a real fan of his Hazardous Tales series. I love history, but am not a huge fan of nonfiction, so Hale just gives me history in an accessible manner. And I know it doesn’t only work for me, it works for a lot of my students too! I’m looking forward to reading his latest release, Underground Abductor, which has been available for the last month or so. Interesting tidbit I learned from Mr. Hale when talking to him. He came to love history through audio books. While painting scenery in high school, he’d listen to audio books and when he exhausted the library’s supply of fantasy and science fiction he took out a historical fiction audiobook. And look where it brought us now!
And so, my “to read” pile, which I thought I had whittled down over Memorial Day Weekend, has grown once again. Lucky for me summer vacation is just four weeks away!
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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