Displacement by Kiku Hughes

displacementI loved this graphic novel. In a time where racist behaviour is being shamed, here is a new take on an old story. During the second World War, Japanese Americans were rounded up and moved to internment camps. These were citizens of the USA. Many of them born and raised there, yet the advent of war meant that they were treated with suspicion.

We meet Kiku, who with her mum is on a trip to a museum, sitting outside she is overcome with a strange feeling, mist and clouds swirl around her and she is transported or displaced, back to the time when her grandmother, a quiet introverted girl, was sent to internment camps with her family in the 1940s. Kiku is caught up in the crowd, next minute she is on a train with the rest of the people and becomes part of the camp population. She tries to fit in, tries to make contact with her grandmother and comes to realise how difficult the camps were. She is stuck there for a long time, unable to get back to her real time. She starts to fit in, makes friends and and becomes part of life in the camp.

This is a treasure of a graphic novel, one that will take you on a journey to a time in history which isn’t spoken of often. A side of the second world war not fought on the front lines but in rural USA.

The art in this graphic novel is stellar, it complements the story so well, the colours are evocative and moody. This is a thing of beauty. A treasure.  Thanks to Netgalley for giving me access to this lovely book.

Illegal by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, Giovanni Rigano (Illustrator)

IllegalWhat a gem of a book! The tone is exactly right, we come to feel the fears, hopes, exhilaration and live through the trauma of Ebo, as he searches for his brother who has headed off to try and get to Europe as a refugee. This is only the beginning though, after rejoicing at finding Kwame, he is then trying to earn enough money to gain passage on a boat for them to go together to Europe, where they hope to find their sister. It is hard to read, and it is quite an emotional experience for the reader to see their struggle in the pages of this gorgeously illustrated graphic novel. Hard, because for every good thing that happens to them, several terrible experiences occur to them. I felt a bit like I needed to take a break from the suffering at times. This was especially the case when they were sleeping in a water pipe which at any time might gush huge tons of water and drown them in their sleep. Gahhhh that was horrible.

This book is a must have addition to a secondary school library, you’ll probably need several copies, Social Studies teachers will use it with their classes studying refugees, art students will be drawn to the gorgeously drawn comics. Readers will enjoy, yet be horrified by, the experiences of the brothers. I liked so much about it. I liked the way that the authors didn’t shy away from the horror of the experiences of these people, I loved the change in tone in the colouring, which indicated the timelines and which made the then and now seperate, and yet relevant to the ongoing action in both storylines. This is clever but not too clever for it’s own good. I love that this graphic novel isn’t trying too hard, it just gets on with the stark story and draws you in. The fames are so well placed and the story is clear.

I’d love to see another story from this team on a social issue.  Take a look at the clip below to see the beauty and sadness.  Turn the sound up!


Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

herding catsIf you were a young person who was interested in making your way in the illustration or comic world, I think this book would be a great asset.  There is a section at the end of the book which will give you handy heads-ups and ideas to make your quest become easier.

Sarah Anderson’s cartoons are gentle, sweet and self-depreciating. The cutsie style belies the depth of the cartoons, they are utterly sweet and at the same time often utterly disarming and poignant. I’ve been following her work on Facebook for some time and have thoroughly enjoyed reading her work.  To have this lovely book full of them is great.

I love the way she ties the love of animals with loneliness and often, wouldn’t we just want the uncomplicated company of a furry being for all the things we need, this is what she does, she harnesses this feeling and draws it perfectly in simple but sharp squares.  Sarah describes the feelings of growing older in a world with expectations perfectly, she could be one of my kids! It is tough out there in the world, having all those grown up expectations, of yourself but also other people expecting certain behaviours from you. I love that Sarah’s musings are in comic form, so accessible and so perfect for how we all feel some of the time.  A lovely treasure of a book.