December 14, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman | SLJ Review

Get the latest SLJ reviews every month, subscribe today and save up to 35%.

redstarGILLMAN, Melanie. As the Crow Flies. illus. by Melanie Gillman. 250p. Iron Circus Comics. Nov. 2017. pap. $30. ISBN 9781945820069.

Gr 6 Up –Charlie, 13, is excited to embark on an all-girls Christian camp’s backpacking trip. However, despite Camp Three Peaks’ commitment to feminism, head counselor Bee and many of the campers are unwittingly racist and homophobic, and Charlie, who is black and queer, grapples with self-doubt. She confides in God, wondering if a feather that follows her on her trek is a sign from above, and her spirits lift as she bonds with the more outspoken Sydney, a trans girl who feels similarly alienated. This contemplative graphic novel, taken from Gillman’s ongoing webcomic, perceptively explores race, gender, faith, and friendship. Elegantly composed, richly hued images vividly portray the lush forest setting and shy, thoughtful Charlie’s inner turmoil as she yearns to voice her opinions. Scenes in which she appears on the periphery of panels or crowded by the speech bubbles of her insensitive fellow campers adroitly capture her isolation. Gillman zeroes in on seemingly small yet achingly relatable moments as Charlie and Sydney’s friendship slowly develops. The book subtly folds in lessons about identity and the danger of assumptions; both girls learn and grow about each other, themselves, and the larger world. VERDICT Heartfelt, stimulating, and sure to spark discussion about feminism’s often less than inclusive attitudes toward marginalized groups. For all graphic novel collections.–Mahnaz Dar,School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal November 2017 issue.

Mahnaz Dar About Mahnaz Dar

Mahnaz Dar ( is Assistant Managing Editor for Library Journal and School Library Journal and can be found on Twitter @DibblyFresh.

A Day-Long Celebration of Fandom-Beloved Stories and Characters
Join Library Journal and School Library Journal for our inaugural LibraryCon Live! We’re excited to offer this day-long virtual festival for book nerds, librarians, and fans of graphic novels, sci-fi, and fantasy. Network online with other fans and explore our virtual exhibit hall where you’ll hear directly from publishers about their newest books and engage in live chats with featured authors. You’ll also learn from librarians and industry insiders on how to plan and host your own Comic Con-style event.
Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind