It is the end of Spring semester here at Boston University, which means that my reading hours are being used for other things. It also means, my writing hours are geared toward research articles and grading.
But, just like the chick-a-dees and blue jays that are hopping around my trees and urging Spring to come, take off its coat, and stay for a while, I got a box of book that I recently ordered in the mail. So, I’m looking. I’m skimming. I’m treating myself to a read now and again and here is what I have.
This one is going to take me a while to finish. I can take it in small pieces, but as a whole it is an overpowering book.
Yossel is an historical account of WWII, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the life of one boy who drew. Kubert uses a heavily, pencil or coal sketch style on paper that appears to be newsprint but feels much heavier.
The images are sketches, with the dividing lines left intact, reminding me that it is a person who drew the portraits. The voice is of a young boy seeing a world filled with Nazi horror, and becoming numb to the horror.
La Perdida by Jessica Abel (2006)
Another black and white graphic novel, very autobiographical. The story focuses on a young American women who decides to live in Mexico City. It details her relationships, her acquisition of language, as well as the culture she comes to understand.
The illustration style is sometimes heavy handed, suffering from too much cross-hatching to show shadows and depth. Like many autobiographies Abel uses an abundance of written text instead of trusting the illustrations to carry more of the story.
So far, I’m not a huge fan, but the story is compelling.
Although not a graphic novel, I needed something to lighten the mood a bit. The cover is very wistful and sort of drab, using a dark watercolor pallet with one bright spot (the red shoe).
I suspected the story was going to be yet another Disney-fictation of Hans Christian Andersen’s mermaid tale.
I was wonderfully wrong.
This is a beautiful story that sneaks up on you in the veil of “Yeah, I’ve seen this a thousand times before”. Instead, it is the story of Minnow, who discovers the power of asking AND finding the answers to her own questions.