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Super Indian Volume 1

Friday, July 4th, 2014

Title: Super Indian Volume 1

Author: Arigon Starr

Illustrator: Arigon Starr

Publisher: Wacky Productions Unlimited

Publication Date: September 5, 2012

Hubert Logan was just a normal Reservation boy until he ate some commodity cheese contaminated with Rezium, a top secret government food enrichment additive. Given powers by the additive, he starts to live a double life as Super Indian, Reservation hero and crime fighter. With the help of his trusty sidekicks Mega Bear and Diogi, he battles the evil forces that would take over the Reservation.

This is a great comic! Educational and humorous. It has the superhero tropes that everyone is used to, but with a Native American spin. While Hubert Logan comes from the fictional Leaning Oak Tribe, the villains are the embodiment of real life social issues: the famous actor of dubious Native heritage, the PBS special’s favorite non-Native flute player, a robot who is commanded to change all the tribal members so they conform to the dominant culture. Even though the comic is full of social commentary, the topics are covered with humor and wit. There are some references that may be confusing, but Starr includes a glossary of terms to help explain some of them at the end of this collection of three stories. There are also great mini-biographies of real life “Super Indians” Maria Tallchief and Jim Thorpe in between the stories.

Even though this comic plays on the already established tropes of the superhero genre, it is different and refreshing as it gives the reader a completely different cultural backing. With talking dogs and over the top dialogue, this book will definitely appeal to a younger audience!

You can also find the webcomic here!

Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling

Friday, June 13th, 2014

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Title: Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling
Author: Sabrina Jones and Marc Mauer
Illustrator: Sabrina Jones
Publisher: The New Press
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
 
Orange is the New Black returned for its second season last week Friday. For those who have already binge watched the entire season and are looking for something to fill the extra time while waiting for season three, look no further than this third iteration of Marc Mauer’s Race to Incarcerate. Using the format of sequential art, the information of the full length title is broken down to make it much more accessible to both teens and adults interested in learning more about incarceration in the United States. Race to Incarcerate was also included on YALSA’s list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens in 2014. It includes both factual information and a few personal narratives as it explores the effect race and class have on sentencing terms and rates of imprisonment. The panels lack clear lines which can make it a bit difficult to follow at times. The text and illustrations blur together and move in disjointed ways, requiring the reader to slow down and digest the facts that are being presented. It’s a little surprising that there are no references listed at the end of the book, but there are resources for those interested in donating books to prisons or becoming a pen-pal with a prisoner (minimum age for the pen-pal programs are all 18). With more than 2 million people imprisoned in the United States, producing the highest rate of incarceration in the world, this graphic novel explains how US prison systems have gotten where they are and also offers recommendations on what could be done make positive changes.

Little White Duck: A Childhood in China

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

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Title: Little White Duck: A Childhood in China
Author: Andrés Vera Martíez and Na Liu
Illustrations:  Andrés Vera Martíez
Publisher: Graphic Universe
 
Da Qin-Big Piano-lives with her parents and younger sister, Xiao Qin-Little Piano-in Wuhan, China. Eight short stories (based on the author’s own life) give short snapshot-like peeks into what childhood was like in China between 1976-1980. The world that Da Qin and Xiao Qin grow up in is very different than that of their parents. Through Da Qin’s eyes, we are shown facets of the evolving China: the one child rule (which allows only one of the sisters to attend school), the affect the death of Chairman Mao had on Da Qin’s family and the country, the policy of the Four pests and how everyone must do their part to eliminate them (and how this very practice helped contribute to the Great Chinese Famine when sparrows were on the list). It also delves into the cultural history of China explaining the common practice of using nicknames instead of a person’s real name as well as the origins and meaning of the Chinese New Year.
 
Little White Duck flits from story to story without an overarching story-line, as a mind will do when recounting stories. It can be a bit jarring and stories often feel unfinished, but they offer a glimpse into China that is different from most common perceptions. This graphic novel is a perfect example of how the format can improve cultural literacy and help students to better understand other perspectives and cultures through reading. Each short story is full of cultural nuances, in both the text and images, that make this a richly educational read for middle grade students.