April 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Graphic Novels Xpress Reviews | November 2016

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For more of this month’s
Xpress Reviews:

Picture Books

Chapter Books

Middle Grade


Graphic Novels


1611-xpress-gn-fujimaki_kurokosbasketballFujimaki, Tadatoshi. Kuroko’s Basketball (2-in-1 Edition). 384p. Viz Media. Aug. 2016. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781421587714.

Gr 5 Up –Fujimaki’s debut graphic novel takes its place at the sports manga table as the start of a promising new series that will hook readers and leave them wanting more. Kuroko always seems to go unnoticed, so when the basketball club receives his application, they aren’t sure what to do with him. Curious about this mysterious guy, they soon discover that he used to play on an elite team. However, when Kuroko is put on the court, it’s soon revealed that he’s mediocre at best—or is he? Kuroko has the ability to slip by, stealing the ball before other players even notice. The team members realize that they have the potential to go far, and Kuroko eventually learns that playing to win isn’t everything. Readers will be drawn into the hilarious friendship between Kuroko and fellow player Taiga Kagami. The art gracefully pulls readers into the narrative, providing a sense of the main character’s ability and deftly portraying tense moments. VERDICT This delightful manga series starter is an attention grabber. Even those who aren’t fans of basketball will be absorbed by this tale. Hand it to those who enjoy Haruichi Furudate’s “Haikyu!!” or Kazune Kawahara’s “My Love Story!!”–Chantalle Uzan, New York Public Library

1611-xpress-gn-kusanagi-yonaofthedawnKusanagi, Mizuho. Yona of the Dawn: Vol. 1. illus. by Mizuho Kusanagi. 200p. Viz Media. Aug. 2016. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781421587813.

Gr 8 Up –In the very first image of Princess Yona, a beautiful illustration depicting her cloaked and standing powerfully against a dawn-lit sky, readers immediately get a sense of who she is. This is a confident, courageous, and capable young woman with the weight of the world on her shoulders. But she wasn’t always like this. She used to be carefree, a princess of a peaceful kingdom, doted on by her family. But a betrayal and a coup force Yona to flee, along with her childhood friend, the brash yet kind General Hak. This first volume spends its time well, establishing the characters through differing perspectives, interactions, and flashbacks, as well as the overall feel of the series. In particular, moments of remembered sweetness and even levity temper the tragic tone. The art is strong, with Kusanagi tweaking the shoujo style as needed and delivering on the emotional notes. To help readers equate the setting with the place of inspiration—ancient Korea—she puts a fair amount of care into the period details of buildings and clothing. VERDICT This title shows great promise as an emotional coming-of-age story, perfect for lovers of fantasy and historical romance. Especially recommended for fans of Yuu Watase’s “Fushigi Yugi” or Sorata Akizuki’s “Snow White with the Red Hair.”–Rachel Forbes, formerly at Oakville Public Library, Ont.

This article was published in School Library Journal's November 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.