Last week's Booking Through Thursday topic was graphic novels. In my response, I admitted total ignorance on the subject. However, by spending a little time reading other BTT answers, I got some great suggestions and decided to test the water myself.
Heather left a comment directing me to her very informative post. She pointed me toward Graphic Novels: Everything You Need To Know by Paul Gravett. My library didn't have this title but, thanks to inter-library loan, I was able to pick it up just a few days later. It is an excellent primer on graphic novels. Gravett lists 30 of his favorite titles and goes on to show sample pages (complete with suggestions on how to read them). He also points out themes, keywords, and special features. By leafing through this book, I found I was drawn to color illustrations...and preferred to steer clear of the sci-fi, super hero, fantasy world.
So, I checked out American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. It won the Michael L. Printz Award, was a National Book Award finalist, and was mentioned by at least a couple of bloggers. American Born Chinese tells three separate stories. First is the Chinese fable of the Monkey King trying to rise above his heritage. The story of Jin Wang, a lonely, Asian American middle school student trying to fit in is next. Finally we have Chin-Kee (purposely the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype) who ruins his popular cousin Danny's life with his yearly visits. Yang then weaves these stories together and delivers a powerful message of self-acceptance. I'm glad I had the opportunity to read American Born Chinese and will be suggesting this title to my nephew in middle school.
This experiment with graphic novels was definitely a success. I feel like I've gained a (very) basic idea of what they're all about and an understanding of their appeal (especially to 11 year old boys). They won't become a favorite genre, but I will consider reading another. I hear there is a Pride and Prejudice graphic novel coming soon....