Invincible Days

illus. by Patrick Atangan. 128P. NBM. Oct. 2014. TR $19.99. ISBN 9781561639014. LC 2014940888.
GR 7 UP—Throughout this charming graphic novel compilation of childhood memories, stuffed animals narrate experiences primarily taken from Atangan's life. The vignettes feel like miniature picture books. Narratives are arranged in approximately chronological sequence; each is a separate self-contained story. Page design consistently follows a rigid nine-grid layout. Flat, expressionless animal faces mask the emotionally laden themes explored throughout the collection. These characters serve as voice for a shy Filipino boy baffled by Western culture and living in a house full of sisters. The sting of racism is ever present. Filipinos are referred to as "dog eaters." Not surprisingly, the author shuns many aspects of popular American culture and is repulsed by food such as hot dogs, pizza, and "Happy Meals." He is most comfortable playing alone and eating food prepared by his grandmother. Her pervasive influence throughout his life and descriptions of her declining health and eventual death permeate the entire book. Most stories are accompanied by text that explains and often elaborates personal experiences and their effect on Atangan. Interestingly, the one wordless episode depicts weekly trips to the public library and the author's fascination with stories. These simple-looking images explore such thoughtful concepts as lessons of childhood, experiencing guilt, coping with cultural dissonance, reflections on humanity, death (including a unique Jade Beetle analogy), and a brief mention of the concept of multiverse (the simultaneous existence of multiple realities).—Barbara M. Moon, Children's Literature Consultant, Bellport, NY

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