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Teen Tech Week Reads

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

by Laura Scott

 

March 5-11 is Teen Tech Week, brought to you by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). You can celebrate this nationwide event by checking out these five tech-related graphic novels:

 

1. The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded by Jim Ottaviani

Alan Turing was a brilliant mathematician and World War II code-breaker whose computational theories led to the development of the modern-day computer. However, his life as a gay man in 1950s England was far from easy. Jim Ottaviani’s graphic biography presents the historically accurate details of Turing’s career and personal life.

2. In Real Life by Cory Doctorow

Anda is a female online gamer who tries to stop gold farmers from exploiting her favorite MMORPG. But when she starts to communicate with a young Chinese gold farmer named Raymond, she gains a new perspective on the world.

3. Pluto by Naoki Urasawa

Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto re-imagines the classic robot manga Astro Boy as a high-tech thriller. Can Detective Gesicht uncover the truth behind a string of robotic murders before it’s too late?

4. Steve Jobs: Insanely Great by Jessie Hartland

In this graphic biography, Jessie Hartland explores the illustrious career of Steve Jobs, from its humble beginnings to his rise to power as Apple’s CEO. Through his life, readers can witness the evolution of the home computers and other forms of consumer technology.

5. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua

During the nineteenth century, Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace shared plans for a calculating machine the likes of which the world had never seen. This graphic novel offers readers a humorous alternate history in which Lovelace and Babbage actually succeed in building their machine: the world’s very first computer.

 

To find out more about Teen Tech Week activities near you, please check with your local library or visit the Teen Tech Week website at teentechweek.ning.com

Laura Scott is an adult and teen Outreach Librarian at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.

The World of Webcomics

Friday, January 27th, 2017

 by Laura Scott

If you are a comic book fan but you aren’t familiar with webcomics, you may be missing out on some great reads!

Webcomics are comic strips or pages that have been published online. They are usually produced independently, by either a single person or a small team. Both professional and amateur creators of every age have contributed to this vibrant medium.

I recommend that webcomic newcomers start off by reading one of the outstanding series listed below:

1. The Adventures of Dr. McNinja (Grade 9+) by Christopher Hastings: www.drmcninja.com

This satirical take on superheroes follows a medically-trained ninja as he tries to fight evil and cure all manner of unusual maladies.  The series ended recently on January 19th, but it is still available to read online for free. 

2. Atomic Robo (Grade 5+) by Brian Clevinger: www.atomic-robo.com

The story of Atomic Robo takes place in an action-heavy, retro-styled science fiction setting. The series’ protagonist is a wise-cracking robot who recounts the dangers he has faced throughout his exceptionally long life. 

3. Digger (Grade 9+) by Ursula Vernon: www.diggercomic.com

This completed Hugo award-winning comic about a levelheaded wombat draws upon several global folktale traditions to weave a complex fantasy world. 

4. Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell (Grade 7+): www.gunnerkrigg.com

Once recommended by author Neil Gaiman, this fantasy tale takes place in a technological advanced boarding school and the magical forest that grows along its borders. Fans of the Harry Potter series may enjoy this comic’s young protagonist, Antimony, and the colorful assortment of classmates, teachers, and creatures she meets on her adventures. 

5. xkcd by Randall Monroe (Grade 10+): www.xkcd.com

This humorous series of strips is one of the most popular comics on the web and addresses a wide variety of scientific, mathematic, and other “geeky” topics. 

Additional webcomic recommendations for children and teens can be found here on the Library School Journal’s website. The parents of minors should take caution when allowing their child to read comics on social media and other online platforms, since many of these do not reliably screen out age-inappropriate content.

Laura Scott is an adult and teen Outreach Librarian at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.

10 Great Superhero Stories for Teenage Girls

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

by Laura Scott 

In an age when comic book movies dominate the Hollywood box office, the number of super-powered heroines one finds on the big screen remains startlingly low.  Fortunately, there are many graphic novels and comics that feature female heroes with which young women can easily identify. Here are 10 great superhero stories for teenage girls:

1. The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks

This slice-of-life story with a plucky young heroine began as a web comic before being published in full color by Dark Horse Books. It differs from most other stories in its genre by focusing on the silly and sometimes embarrassing aspects of having superpowers. The black-and-white version of this comic can still be read for free at www.adventuresofsuperherogirl.com.

2. Batgirl Volume 1: Batgirl of Burnside by Cameron Stewart

Stepping out of the shadow of her famous mentor, Barbara Gordon, A.K.A. Batgirl, fights crime in a new neighborhood while simultaneously navigating the worlds of college and social media.

3. Captain Marvel Volume 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Fans of the hit TV show Supergirl or Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy may enjoy this tale of outer space action told from the perspective of a high-powered superheroine. In this volume, Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) meets up with the Guardians of the Galaxy as she carries out an escort mission to a distant planet.

4. Faith by Jody Houser

This series takes the classic superhero formula and updates it with the inclusion of a protagonist who defies mainstream beauty norms. By day, Faith Herbert works as an online journalist charged with writing clickbait articles for her difficult boss. But when trouble arises, she transforms into her heroic alter ego, Zephyr.

5. Gotham Academy by Mary Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher, et al.

Equal parts Batman and Harry Potter, this story takes place at an elite boarding school in Gotham City, home of the Caped Crusader. Olive Silverlock and best friend Maps work to unlock numerous mysteries surrounding their school and Olive’s mysterious past.

6. Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

This series follows the adventures of Kamala Khan, a Muslim American teenager who suddenly develops super powers and takes up the mantle of “Ms. Marvel,” a title once held by the current Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers.

7. Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi

Starring a clumsy yet endearing protagonist, Sailor Moon is a classic in the Japanese “magical girl” genre. 14-year-old Usagi Tsukino works tirelessly to defend the earth with the help of her many friends. In the process, she learns more about herself and her own destiny.

8. Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan, Joss Whedon, et al.

Written by some of the biggest names in contemporary comics, Runaways features a diverse group of teenage characters and includes a particularly strong female cast. It follows Nico Minoru and her friends as they struggle to escape the influence of their supervillain parents.

9. Spider-Gwen by Jason Latour

This what-if story takes place in an alternate universe where Peter Parker never became Spider-Man. Instead, Peter’s friend Gwen Stacy confronts a radioactive spider that transforms her into Spider-Woman.

10. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North

For those who prefer a hero that doesn’t take herself too seriously, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl provides plenty of laughs along with its action. Doreen Green (Squirrel Girl) fights evil with a combination of optimism and self-awareness that one rarely sees among her Avenger colleagues.

Laura Scott is an adult and teen Outreach Librarian at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.

Manga Round Up!

Friday, July 31st, 2015

In search of a new manga series to read or to recommend? Check out the titles below!

  

Karneval 2-in-1, Volume 1 by Touya Mikanagi:

Nai has spent his entire life living in the woods with a young man named Karoku, who he thinks of as a brother. Because of this, Nai is an extremely naive thirteen-year-old boy. When Karoku disappears, Nai ventures out to find him, but the only trace of Karoku is a bracelet in a “big, red puddle.” Not even realizing that Karoku could be dead, Nai sets out to find him. He’s quickly kidnapped and taken to Lady Mine, which is where the story opens. She recognizes the bracelet for what it is: an ID bracelet of Circus, an elite organization that hunts down wanted criminals. Nai is rescued by Gareki, a thief who heard Lady Mine talking about the value of the bracelet. Gareki plans to just use and lose the kid, but Nai reminds him of his own younger siblings and he finds himself helping Nai stay out of trouble, which proves to be quite the task, as he looks for Karoku.

Yen Press’ omnibus includes the first two volumes of Karneval, bonus comics, and a sneak peak of the next omnibus (to be released July 2015). In the included volumes we follow Nai and Gareki as they become more and more involved with the government agency Circus and the band of characters that come with them. Karneval is a josei comic that will appeal to teen readers who enjoy action-packed stories and who can get beyond the occasional absurdity of Nai’s naivete.

The Devil is a Part-Timer! 1 by Satoshi Wagahara:

It’s hard being a Devil King on earth, especially when you’re stranded with no magic in modern day Tokyo. There are bills to be paid and a part-time job at McDonald’s doesn’t pay all that well. And as if that wasn’t enough, the hero responsible for banishing the Devil King Sadao Maou and his general Shiro Ashiya to earth has tracked them down and is bent on destroying them both.

For readers in search of a humorous but action packed read, look no further than Volume 1 of The Devil is a Part-Timer. The shenanigans of Maou, Ashiya, and Emilia as they struggle to adjust in a magicless world, that isn’t suited to their epic battle of good and evil, are ridiculous and hilarious. Plans for world domination through being promoted to a fast food manager? How could that plan not work?

A Silent Voice 1 by Yoshitoki Oima:

Shoya is constantly on the run from boredom. He’s a risk taker and a daredevil. He’s also a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can’t hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes his new favorite target for keeping boredom at bay. He and his friends torture her for months, until Shoya goes too far and Shoko is forced to leave the school. Six years later, their paths cross again, but can Shoya make up for his past mistakes?

This is a pretty powerful manga about the consequences of childhood bullying. Volume 1 starts with Shoya and Shoko meeting again for the first time in six years. Shoko running away from Shoya segues into a flashback of elementary school, which is what makes up the rest of this first installment. It will be interesting to see how this manga progresses. As it stands, this would make a great conversation starter about bullying, the bystander effect, and disabilities.

Non Non Biroyi 1 by Atto:

Welcome to Asahigaoka Branch School. With only five students enrolled and a bus that only comes through every five hours, it might be the smallest and most isolated school in all of Japan. But that doesn’t mean that Asahigaoka lacks adventure. Sharing one class with students ranging from first grade to eighth grade is an adventure in and of itself.

There’s no real over arching story-line outside of the characters and their relationships. Instead each chapter places the girls in different situations: being the new girl adjusting to the difference of life in a big city vs the country, having a first crush, trying to out-smart a crafty rabbit, and the struggle of trying to relate to each other despite their age differences. It’s really a manga about dealing with life and growing up. This would be a great title to put into the hands of younger teens!

The Shadow Hero

Friday, October 17th, 2014

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Title: The Shadow Hero
Author: Gene Luen Yang
Illustrator:  Sonny Liew
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: July 15, 2014

In 1944, Chu Hing became one of the first Asian Americans to work in the American comic book industry. He created a World War II superhero named the Green Turtle, whose face was never shown and whose origin is shrouded in rumor. Decades later, Gene Luen Yang has given an origin story to what is believed to be the first Chinese superhero.

Enter Hank. He’s a pretty average nineteen-year-old. He helps his parents run their Chinatown grocery store and he aspires to follow in his father’s footsteps as store owner. When Hank’s mom gets the notion that he should become a superhero his arguments about not possessing any powers don’t dissuade her (and lead to a few run-ins with toxic chemicals).

While the original Green Turtle never did find an audience, this re-imagining is a great addition to the superhero ranks! Sonny Liew’s illustrations are wholly captivating and beautifully drawn and Gene Luen Yang’s story is humorous and engaging in true superhero fashion.

Thinking of using this book for the classroom or a book club? Be sure to check out First Second’s discussion guide.