New Graphic Novels

David, our outreach librarian, has been reading a lot of new graphic novels during this unusual time.  Below are some of his recent favorites which will be available to request from our catalog once the libraries begin to reopen.

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Brown, Lisa. The Phantom Twin.  First Second, 2020.

This fictional story, set in a turn-of-the-century sideshow focuses on Isabel who used to be a conjoined twin. Jane, her sister, dies after an ambitious surgeon separates them. Strangely enough, Isabel still sees and communicates with Jane even after her death. She tries to build a new life and create a new act in the sideshow. Although now, she is not sure who to trust. She finds solace in a kind tattoo artist but questions his intentions. Despite the heavy subject matter, the story is handled with a light tone and the drawings are whimsical. This book will appeal to young adults with a curiosity about fitting it in despite their differences.


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Cody, Mathew and Yoshitani, Yoshi. Zatanna and the House of Secrets. DC Comics, 2020.

DCs new graphic novel series for kids reimagines many characters from the DC Universe as teenagers. In this fantastical entry, Zatanna is a middle-schooler with a single father. After dealing with some social pressures at school, she comes home to realize that things are far stranger than they appear. Her house is nearly as old as time and her father is a powerful magician. She realizes she is able to communicate with her dead mother and that only she holds the key to the house’s secrets. Add to this an origami shine and a talking rabbit and what you have here is an exciting adventure story. I love the colorful artwork by Yoshitani. It’s a unique style in that is completely non-line based and looks quite different than most other comics. I also like that you could read and enjoy this book without the need to know about the history of any of these characters. Even though it is a DC book, it has nothing to do with superheroes.


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Fontana, Shea and Dichiara, Marcelo.  Batman Overdrive. DC Comics, 2020.

This is another fun DC Kids graphic novel where we see Bruce Wayne as a young teen prior to becoming Batman. In this reimagining, Bruce is a bit of a gear-head who gets the bug to fix up his deceased father’s 66 Crusader. It will eventually become the Batmobile. Along the way, he meets a young thief. This turns out to be Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. However, this story has little to do with super-heroics. The main part of the story deals with Bruce’s relationship with his pseudo-adopted parent, Alfred, the butler. He also befriends a whiz kid, Mateo Diaz, who not only helps him build a car, but becomes his assistant in his first stint in fighting crime as a masked vigilante. This is an enjoyable tale for those that like their comics fast and furious.


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Jusay, Jeremy. The Strange Ones. Gallery 13, 2020.

This is a nostalgic story set in Manhattan during the mid 1990s that focuses on the relationship of two teenage outsiders who find a bond through alternative music. Angeline and Franck go to concerts together, watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show and are generally oddballs. Their relationship is not romantic, but they have a genuine connection. When Franck suddenly dies, Angeline reconnects with Franck’s past through his old friends. It is a very personal and heartfelt tale that will appeal to fans of realistic young adult fiction. The black and white art is reminiscent of some of the best zines of the 1990s, like Tomine’s Optic Nerve, but it also has a neatness and precision which sets in it in a class by itself.


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Knisley, Lucy.  Stepping Stones. Random House Graphic, 2020.

This is a middle grade quasi-autobiographical graphic novella that I’m sure would appeal to fan of Raina Telgemeier. I’d say that Knisley has an even more organic and natural cartooning style than Raina. It’s drawn in pencil and the coloring is really well done – gradients and slight texturing really add to the summer mood. The story itself is brief and breezy. Jen, who has moved to Peapod Farm, with her mother, misses city life. She must adjust to living on the farm with her mother’s new boyfriend and his two daughters. She struggles with working at the farmer’s market and finding a way that her particular talents can be of use. Reader’s will notice and relate to Jen’s insecurities. She is a real character that one can identify with, obviously based on the author’s own experiences.


 

Featured

Temporary Closures

As a result of the current Coronavirus pandemic, libraries in Pinal County are temporarily closed. Late fees will not be charged during the closure. Due dates have been extended to July 1 for all physical items. Requests may be unavailable or delayed during this time.

*As of May 28th, here is an update on which libraries are open:

Apache Junction: Offering drive-through service
Arizona City: Closed 
Casa Grande: Offering curbside/lobby service
Coolidge: Curbside & by appointment starting 6/1
Eloy: Curbside service
Florence: Curbside service
Kearny: Open
Mammoth: Curbside service
Maricopa: Curbside service
Oracle: Closed
San Manuel: Closed
Superior: Closed

  • The Apache Junction Public Library’s drive through window is open if you have placed a request on an item that is at that location.0

Your library card gives you free access online tutoring help from 1pm to 10pm through tutor.com.  You can log in here.

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Several locations such as Coolidge, Maricopa and Casa Grande are offering virtual storytimes.  Check out their facebook pages (here and here and here!) for more details.  The Apache Junction Fun Van is also running a virtual program

Below are some preschool storytime videos by David, our outreach librarian.


There are still plenty of ways to access materials while our libraries are temporarily closed.  You can download eBooks, audiobooks, comics and movies by downloading the hoopla and cloudLibrary apps.  (see links on right).

If you live in Pinal County but do not have a library card, you can apply for a Virtual Library Card.

  • Access our digital collections & other resources. We have ebooks, eaudiobooks, movies, music & more.
  • Ancestry Library is now available from home.
  • During the coronavirus closure, we have special access to the Tumblebooks Teen BookCloud. This teen-focused collection of popular fiction, graphic novels, nonfiction, and videos offers hundreds of titles to supplement high school reading. There’s even a drama and poetry section. And each title has an AR reading level assigned, so it’s easy to make sure your kids are reading at an appropriate level.
  • We have extended patrons monthly borrowing limits on the hoopla app to 8 items.Access these resources fro free with your library card

If you have children at home, here is a list of some great In-Home Family Resources provided by the Pinal Early Childhood Coalition.  Common Sense Media has a list of Resources for Families during the Pandemic.

First Things First also has some advice regarding parenting in the time of Coronavirus.

Barefoot Books has some great, and relevant, activity books worth downloading.

Coronavirus: A Book for Children by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson & Nia Roberts, illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

ASU’s Center for Child Well-Being has put together some great activity books to download including this one for Earth Day.


Stressed out? Why not take this time to enjoy some poetry.  April is National Poetry Month. Go to Poets.org to find ways to celebrate at home or online.

March is Women’s History Month

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Every year March is designated Women’s History Month by Presidential proclamation. The month is set aside to honor women’s contributions in American history. The 2020 Women’s History Month theme is “Valiant Women of the Vote.” The theme honors “the brave women who fought to win suffrage rights for women, and for the women who continue to fight for the voting rights of others.”

View our booklist and check out some of these titles.

Graphic Novel Recommendations

The following are graphic novel recommendations from our outreach librarian David.  Some of these titles are available to check out from Hoopla, our digital platform for eBooks.  These are books are for a variety of ages (some for children, some for adults) and are good examples of the variety in non-superhero comics being published in the past few years.

Jon Buller and Susan Schade. Anne of Green Bagels. Papercutz, 2016.
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Buller and Schade are a husband and wife team with more than four decades of experience creating children’s books.  I loved their previous series, The Travels of Thelonious, which was a three book fantasy series.  Like those books, Anne of Green Bagels alternates chapters told in a comics format with chapters told in an illustrated prose.  The story centers on Anne and her family as they move to a new suburban environment where Anne attends school.  Her father is an eccentric inventor.  Her new best friend is an accordion player who she starts a band with.  The story also involves an animated cartoon series and Anne’s surreal dreams.  If you enjoy the absurdist stories of Daniel Pinkwater, I think you’d enjoy this too.

Charles Forsman. I Am Not Okay with This. Fantagraphics Books, 2020.
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Forsman’s book about a teenage outsider who also possesses telekinetic powers has recently been adapted into a live action Netflix series.  The book is succinct, a quick read, that delves into the teenage years with dark humor.  Told in a journal format in a sort of classic comic strip style, Forsman subverts our expectations  by creating a powerful and sometimes violent story about trauma and control.


Dylan Horrocks. Sam Zabel & the Magic Pen. 2014.
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This funny and erotic comic for adults chronicles the author’s alter ego through comics history and the creative process. A mysterious old comic book set on Mars suddenly throws Sam headlong into a wild, fantastic journey through centuries of comics, stories, and imaginary worlds.

Johnston, Lynn.  For Better or For Worse: The Complete Library: Volumes 1 – 4.  IDW, 2016 – 2019.
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For Better of For Worse was a very special daily comic strip in that the characters actually age in real time.  You can read the first 14 years of the strip via these four volumes on the hoopla app.  As the story progresses, Lynn’s strengths as a visual storyteller improve.  The family dynamic becomes more dramatic and she begins to deal with more serious themes.  Fans of Raina Telgemeier, author of Smile,  will most likely enjoy these books as they were a huge influence on that artist growing up.

Rich Tommaso. Dry County. Image Comics, 2018.
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This noir story set in sunny Florida features a Generation X slacker character who finds himself in the throws of a violent mystery.  What begins as a fairly hum-drum narrative, slowly builds into an exciting story of a young man bent on tracking down the woman who he’s recently fallen in love with.


Deb Olin Unferth and Elizabeth Haidle. I, Parrot. Black Balloon Publishing, an Imprint of Catapult, 2017.
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Daphne is struggling as a single mother after she lose custody of her son.  In search of doing whatever she can to get him back she gets involved with taking care of  a flock of passenger pigeons. Soon she is in over her head but is able, through introspection, to find a new way to solve her problems. Much of the story is symbolic and the illustrations are beautiful and unique.


Vaughan, Brian K., Chiang, Cliff, et al. Paper Girls Deluxe Edition Volumes 1 and 2. Image Comics, 2019.
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What starts out looking like a coming-of-age tale set into the 1980’s quickly turns into a time-traveling masterpiece of science fiction.  The art, with its controlled color sensibility, will quickly draw you into this story and its engaging characters.  Vaughan was also the writer of The Runaways books from Marvel that in recent years were adapted into the TV show.  This series, which can be read in its entirety via our hoopla app will certainly appeal to a similar audience.

Andi Watson. Glister. Dark Horse Books, 2017.
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Glister is a young girl living in England. She gets drawn into strange and magical adventures on a regular basis and this book is made up of three of those episodes.
This fast moving story is for all ages and it involves haunted teapots, houses that rearrange their own rooms when you’re not looking, and trolls in wishing wells!
This title is from a few years back and it is available on Hoopla.  Watson also has two new books coming out in 2020.

More comics for mature readers:
Below is a list of David’s favorite graphic novels aimed at an adult audience that are currently available to read online through our hoopla app:

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Short novels for kids about cartooning and the creative process

Did you like the Newbery Award winning book New Kid by Jerry Craft?

The following list includes easy to read chapter books that focus on a certain personality type similar to the one found in that book.  All of these books are about boys who are creative and find an outlet through art.  Many of these characters are cartoonists who transform a difficulty in connecting to the world around them through manifesting a world of their own through stories and pictures.  These books have to do with the creative process.  They demonstrate how art is not always easy but the process and commitment can make the efforts rewarding.

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Bulla, Clyde Robert., and Thomas B. Allen. The Chalk Box Kid. Scholastic, Inc., 2004.
This book, originally published in the 1980s, has gone through multiple printings and is still readily available today.  Bulla is a master of concise writing.  This is one of his best. Nine-year-old Gregory experiences several upsets in his life.  The new kids in school don’t readily accept him.  He responds by creating fantastic chalk drawings on the walls of a burned-out factory behind his house. As his art flourishes, Gregory discovers his unique voice and place in the world.  Bulla conveys the yearning and passion of a young artist and the healing power of friendship.  The book is around fifty pages (a short story) and contains black and white illustrations throughout.
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Byars, Betsy. The Cartoonist. Puffin, 1978. (available on Hoopla)
The Cartoonist is the oldest book on this list.  Thankfully, it is easily found through our Hoopla app.  Byars wrote many sensitive novels for children including classics that were adapted for television like The Pinballs or The 18th Emergency.   The Cartoonist is at times a sad story, but still worth reading. Alfie is content drawing comics in the attic.  It’s his retreat from his problematic family.  His private space is interrupted when his older brother moves home.  This book shows some of the more realistic sides of how a child uses art to function within a somewhat dysfunctional family.  The drawings throughout by Richard Cuffari help illustrate the mood.
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Feiffer, Jules. The Man in the Ceiling. Michael di Capua Books, 1995.

Feiffer, whose career spans almost the entire history of comic books has written plays, screenplays, novels, comic strips, children’s books and graphic novels.  In The Man in the Ceiling he intersperses short chapters with comics drawn by the main character.  Jimmy is not good in school or at sports. What he is great at is creating stories in the form of cartoons.  He yearns to be recognized for this but often feels like a stranger in his own family. In this sense, this book is similar to Byar’s The Cartoonist.  However, this book has a lot more humor and the action scenes of the comic make it a breezier read.

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Gownley, Jimmy. The Dumbest Idea Ever! Graphix, 2014.

This autobiographical novel for kids may appeal to fans of Raina Telgemeier.  The cartooning is similar, although Gownley is older and had created two comic book series prior to this one.  In The Dumbest Idea Ever, Jimmy portrays his life on the cusp of adolescence.  This includes his first girlfriend, his growing disillusionment with homework, and his desire to escape the confines of his town.  He searches to find his own special talent through comics.  When he makes his own, things begin to change for him.

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Pinkwater, Daniel Manus. Four Different Stories. Dover Publications, Inc., 2018.
Four Different Stories reprints four hard to find novels from early in Daniel Pinkwater’s career.  The standout here is the book Wingman which also features comic book inspired illustrations by Pinkwater.   Donald Chen is the only Chinese boy in his class and often faces prejudice.  He is lonely, dislikes school and often escapes from his classes by reading comic books.  One day, while hiding out on the George Washington Bridge, he encounters a real Chinese superhero named Wingman who takes him on a journey to a faraway place.
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Say, Allen. Drawing from Memory. Scholastic Press, 2011.
The award winning picture book creator Allen Say first explored his autobiography in the novel The Inn Keeper’s Apprentice published in 1979.  Drawing From Memory is the first of two illustrated books that retells this story in a more factual manner accompanied by drawings, photographs and scrapbook items. Say grew up in Japan and this first volume documents his journey as a youth to apprentice for a master.
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Selznick, Brian. The Boy of a Thousand Faces. Laura Geringer Book, 2001.
This one is slightly different then the others mentioned on this list.   It’s a bit more nostalgia-based in its design and it does not deal directly with drawing or cartooning.  But it does feature an artistic protagonist who is obsessed with monsters!
Selznick is the award-winning creator who created a unique book format of his own with the publication of The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Boy of a a Thousand Faces is a shorter, early work. Alonzo King has always loved monsters due to the fact that he was born on Halloween.  He is obsessed with horror movies and uses his artistic talents to transform into some of the famous Universal monsters like The Werewolf and The Phantom of the Opera.  This story has a mystery that involves a horror television host.  Photographs and Selznick’s drawings are integral to this short story and even the most reluctant reader will be intrigued.

National Library Lover’s Month

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Our libraries have been busy this month celebrating with many programs for children.

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Check out our Valentine’s Day booklist.

Did you know that February is also National Library Lover’s Month?

“The entire month of February is dedicated to the people who love whole buildings devoted to the reading, housing, organizing, categorizing, finding, studying and otherwise loving books.  It’s National Library Lover’s Month!

Libraries provide so much more than a place for us to enjoy great novels or to discover amazing adventures and untold history.  Yes, they help us ace our research papers and provide a quiet space to study, but they do so much more.

For preschoolers, libraries entertain them with theater and hands-on activities exposing them to music, art and their first friendships. Many communities rely on their libraries for meeting space for public forums, socials, fundraisers and classes.”
 – (nationaldaycalendar.com)

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Sometimes even parents make mistakes

Arizona State University’s Center for Child Well-Being has put together the following booklist. “One in nine children in Arizona has a parent who is incarcerated. Many of these children may not know that there are others who are going through a similar situation.   Children experiencing incarceration may not be aware that there are books which feature a main character experiencing parental incarceration, and may not know or be ashamed to ask a librarian.”

You can find some of these titles in our catalog here.

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Arizona@Work Access Point

Find a job concept on laptop computer screen on wooden table. Ha

An ARIZONA@WORK Access Point has recently been installed at Florence Community Library.  They offer a designated laptop to access ARIZONA@WORK Live Online Video Service.

Accessible: Monday – Friday from 9am to 5pm

Sign out the laptop at the circulation desk.  Use it within the Library & Community Center in order to access FREE online assistance with:

  • Job Searches (47,000+ jobs)
  • Job Matching
  • Job Applications
  • Resume Assistance
  • Job Placement Assistance
  • Career Exploration & More

ARIZONA@WORK Pinal County offers self-service access point locations for job seekers to access online resources such as job searching, filing for unemployment insurance, resume guidance and occasional workshops.

 

Concept Picture Books

The following concept books use inventive, minimalist design and modernist illustration styles to achieve very whimsical effects.  Sometimes less is more and these small books are bound to entertain.


Élisa Géhin. One and All. Abrams Appleseed, 2016.

The pictures in this book, which contain fold-out pages demonstrate the concept that one becomes many and many becomes all.  A house turns into a neighborhood and then a city.  A page becomes a book and then a library.  The book can be used as a jumping off place to start discussions.  The lively illustrations make this visual concept come to life.

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A car becomes a train and then (fold-out) becomes a station!

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Élisa Géhin. Can You Keep a Straight Face? W W Norton, 2017.

This is another book illustrated Géhin with inventive paper engineering by Bernard Duisit.  The funny faces challenge you to keep from laughing.  Each picture has a face that can be manipulated by pulling on a tab.  In the process noses spins, eyes pop and frowns turn into smiles.  Whenever I show this book to preschoolers they are fascinated!

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Jean Jullien. This Is Not A Book. Phaidon, 2016.

This is perhaps the most conceptual of all concept books. It’s a wordless board book that opens up to become a laptop computer, a piano, a toolbox, the interior of a tent…and more (don’t want to give it all away)!  What a funny idea.

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Thereza Rowe. We All Have Feelings. Owl & Dog Playbooks, 2019.

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Die Cut into an unusual shape this beautiful board book is printed with spot neon colors and feels like something you might see in a museum.  Ingeniously designed, the book also handles the heavy topic of “how to deal with emotions” in a very friendly and fun way. Various expressions of the same person are exhibited showing that inside one’s head exist a variety of emotions.  Some of the feelings represented are happiness, frustration, bravery and excitement.  Curiosity, as demonstrated in the illustration below, is demonstrated through the act of reading a book!
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Periodicals:

On the concept of “Color” I recommend the following recent periodicals that chose this as their issue’s theme.
This is a magazine of interest both to children and also anyone interested in contemporary illustration.  It features a cover by children’s book creator JooHee Yoon and a look behind her creative process. There are also some great comics, articles and activities all related to color.
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Dot magazine is a UK based magazine for preschoolers by the publishers of Anorak.
This issue features craft ideas including how to make a sun-catcher kite.  There are also coloring pages. easy-to-read comics and instructions on how to make a paper airplane!
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Apache Junction’s Writer-in-Residence program and events

Attention writers and fans of crime fiction:

The Apache Junction Public Library’s Writer-in-Residence program offers encouragement, direction and feedback to local authors. James L. Thane, writer of the fast-paced and edgy Sean Richardson series, will be the resident author beginning in February.  In addition to being available for half-hour consultations, Thane will offer a series of workshops to help writers get their projects off the ground and see them through to the final rewrite.

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Private consultations are Mondays from 5:30 -7:30 p.m. and Wednesdays from 11-1 p.m.
Although drop-ins will be accommodated as availability permits, appointments are strongly recommended and can be made by calling:

Apache Junction Public Library at 474-8555.

www.ajpl.org

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All workshops are free, and open to the public. The Writer-in-Resident Program was made possible by the Arizona State Library, a division of the Secretary of State, with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

For more information check about James L Thane, check out his website:

www.jameslthane.com/