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Graphic-novel biographies and memoirs

Chandler, Matt  Outrunning the Nazis: The Brave Escape of Resistance Fighter Sven Somme
Illustrated by Daniele Nicotra.
Gr. 4–6, middle school     32 pp.     Capstone/Graphic Library

Yomtov, Nel  Death Camp Uprising: The Escape from Sobibor Concentration Camp
Illustrated by Wilson Tortosa.
Gr. 4–6, middle school     32 pp.     Capstone/Graphic Library

Great Escapes of World War II series. These graphic novels tell gripping tales of escaping the Nazis during WWII: in Outrunning, a Norwegian resistance fighter; in Death Camp, multiple prisoners in a concentration camp. Somewhat contrived speech-bubble dialogue is accompanied by historical fact boxes throughout the graphic tellings; comics-style art and layouts work well to depict the intrigue and action intrinsic to these historical events. Reading list. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Modern History; History, Modern—World War II; Nazism; Somme, Sven; Spies; Norway; History, Modern—Holocaust; Concentration camps; Jews; Poland; Cartoons and comics; Graphic novels

Gravel, Elise  The Great Antonio
Gr. K–3     64 pp.     TOON

Translated by Richard Kutner. TOON Books continues to reinvent the easy reader with this biography of eccentric strongman Antonio Barichievich, a Croatian-born showman who became a Montreal legend. Simple text mingles fact, speculation, and tall tale. Energetic illustrations in muted colors feature a large, pink, hairy, joyful Antonio; wild typefaces seem to want to burst from the page. Back matter includes a few more details about Antonio.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Actors; Entertainers; Barichievich, Antonio; Sports—Weightlifting; Size; Tall tales; Books in translation

Hale, Shannon  Real Friends
Gr. 4–6     220 pp.     Roaring Brook/First Second

Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Color by Jane Poole. Author Hale recounts her elementary-school years in this graphic memoir. Readers will empathize with Shannon’s experiences of being left out, teased, and bullied, and they’ll feel relieved once she learns how to find real friends and avoid toxic ones. Illustrator Pham’s often humorous yet always sensitive depictions of the characters’ emotions make the book even more affecting. Hand to fans of Raina Telgemeier and Cece Bell.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Autobiographies; Women—Autobiographies; Women—Biographies; Friendship; Schools—Elementary schools; Cartoons and comics; Graphic novels

Meltzer, Brad  I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.
Gr. K–3     40 pp.      Dial

Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. Ordinary People Change the World series. From childhood anecdotes through the March on Washington, the scope of King’s struggles and accomplishments is conveyed. There’s some gentle moralizing (“it’s better to have more love in your life than more hate”), but it’s well delivered via this biography series’ child-friendly setup: a chatty first-person narrative and cartoon art with occasional comics-style frames. Photos are appended. Reading list, timeline. Bib.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Prejudices; King, Martin Luther, Jr.; Civil rights; African Americans; Race relations; Nonviolence; Activism; Clergy; Nobel Prize

Walden, Tillie  Spinning
Middle school, high school
     396 pp.     Roaring Brook/First Second

In this layered graphic memoir, former competitive figure skater Walden looks back at her childhood. Mostly bluish-purple pencil drawings reflect young Tillie’s mood: skating rarely brings her joy, she’s bullied, family relationships are strained, she’s hiding her homosexuality, she struggles academically, and she’s sexually assaulted. Walden’s growing interest in art is a recurring theme throughout her memoir; occasional incompletely drawn figures are clearly deliberate.
Subjects: Autobiographies; Sports—Ice skating; Behavior—Bullying; Graphic novels; Sexual orientation; Homosexuality; Women—Biographies; Women—Autobiographies; Cartoons and comics; Secrets; Sexual assault; Competition

From the January 2018 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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Comments

  1. Patty Cummings says:

    I have been reading a fantastic memoir of a woman who lived her life in China from childhood. Not always a happy story, but a good look into another culture and how life is lived outside of my little place here in the US. It’s called Song of Praise for a Flower and it’s by Fengxian Chu. I will be reading many more memoirs now, I find them just so rewarding to read!

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