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Graphic biographies and memoirs

Agrimbau, Diego  Anne Frank
Illustrated by Fabián Mezquita.
Gr. 4–6     80 pp.     Capstone

Agrimbau, Diego  Leonardo da Vinci
Illustrated by Diego Aballay.
Gr. 4–6     80 pp.     Capstone

Graphic Library: Graphic Lives series. These graphic novels detail the lives of the titular historical figures, with emphasis on events that garnered each the most notoriety. The comic-book format makes the volumes feel more like stories than typical biographies, which may appeal to reluctant history readers. The art in both books is generic and busy but decently expressive. Contextual notes, discussion questions, and writing prompts are included. Reading list, timeline. Glos.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Leonardo, da Vinci; Renaissance; Artists; Inventions and inventors; Cartoons and comics; Graphic novels; History, Modern—Holocaust; Women—Biographies; Frank, Anne; Jews; History, Modern—World War II; Women—Jews; Diaries

Bagieu, Pénélope  Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World
Middle school, high school     296 pp.     Roaring Brook/First Second
Paperback ISBN 978-1-62672-869-1

Translated by Montana Kane. French artist Bagieu’s brief vignettes of sequential comics art expose readers to brazen women of all fields, times, and places, both famous and little-known. Each entry gives just enough information about each heroine to know who she was and why she was important; many readers will dig deeper from here. Occasional humor makes even the most tragic stories approachable.
Subjects: Collective Biographies; Women—Biographies; Women—History; Feminism; Cartoons and comics; Graphic novels; Books in translation; Women—Feminists

Gownley, Jimmy  The Dumbest Idea Ever!
Gr. 4–6, middle school     238 pp.     Scholastic/Graphix

In this graphic novel memoir, thirteen-year-old Jimmy was a basketball star and top student until an untimely bout of chicken pox caused him to miss his team’s championship game and a ton of school. As Jimmy’s grades began to slide, his love of drawing grew. Jimmy is a likable kid, and the visuals are strong. Tween readers will fall for Gownley’s story.
Subjects: Visual Arts; Illustrators; Diseases—Chicken pox; Autobiographies; Drawing; Graphic novels; Cartoons and comics; Pennsylvania; Biographies

Krosoczka, Jarrett J.  Hey, Kiddo
Middle school, high school     320 pp.     Scholastic/Graphix

In this sophisticated graphic memoir, Krosoczka recounts the triumphs and tragedies he experienced being raised by his grandparents. Regularly left in the dark regarding his family, Krosoczka eventually learns of his mother’s addiction to heroin and of her habitual incarceration. Krosoczka’s actual childhood art (from early crayon drawings to high-school gag comics) and handwritten letters are seamlessly inserted into the gracefully rendered, limited-palette illustrations.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Family—Grandparents; Substance abuse—Alcohol; Substance abuse—Drugs; Cartoons and comics; Autobiographies; Graphic novels; Family—Mother and son; Prisons and prisoners; Art; Artists

Meltzer, Brad  I Am Gandhi
Gr. K–3     40 pp.     Dial

Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. Ordinary People Change the World series. From childhood anecdotes (“I was shy… I spent most of my time with books”) to the discrimination he faced to development of his Satyagraha (“Truth Force”), the scope of Gandhi’s struggles and accomplishments is conveyed. There’s some gentle moralizing, 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; Gandhi, Mahatma; India; Pacifists; Statesmen; Nonviolence

Samancı, Özge  Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey
Middle school, high school     190 pp.     Farrar/Ferguson

This graphic memoir chronicles the coming of age of a girl and her country, Turkey. Özge is starting school in the early 1980s, just after the coup that would place the country under a military dictatorship. She’s a sharp observer of the world, writ both large and small. While primarily relying on small ink sketches, Samancı provides graphic surprise on nearly every spread.
Subjects: Visual Arts; Graphic novels; Cartoons and comics; Turkey; Artists; Women—Artists; Biographies; Women—Biographies; Autobiographies; Women—Autobiographies

From the January 2019 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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