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  • July 2020
    M T W T F S S

Graphic Content.

Memoir: noun: a narrative composed from personal experience

Graphic Novel: noun: a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book

Graphic Memoir: noun: the perfect combination of my favorite two genres – graphic novel and memoir

Life is hard. We all deal with the trials and tribulations of life differently. One way to cope is to read the stories of others. Which is why I like memoirs – especially graphic memoirs! Check out some of the best graphic memoirs for teens. Some are true stories and some are not – either way they are all awesome!

PersepolisFist Stick Knife Gun  Fun HomeSmileAmerican Born ChineseMausBlankets

Teen Review: TeenBoat! by Dave Roman and John Green

My name is Jayne. I’m fourteen. I go to CAPA for Visual Arts, but I love to write so much more. Creative writing has been apart of my life for so long now; I feel lost without it. I’m obsessed with everything British, Beatles, Tim Burton movies, and Harry Potter. Oh and cats! I hope you love what I review and I hope you comment and tell me what I could do better. Anyway, thanks for reading!

Teen Boat! by Dave Roman & John Green

I am absolutely in love with Teen Boat! It’s really funny and I think teens will love the weird and quirky behavior of TeenBoat (that’s his actual name!).

So Teen Boat! is about a boy who’s name is the title and can magically transform into a boat. This book is divided up into about five sections and each tale involves TB (Teen Boat!) and his friends. In the first few chapters or stories, TB is in love with this girl who has the same name as the ship that Christopher Columbus sailed. I found this hysterical because of course TB would be the one who falls in love with a girl with the name of a ship! In the next few, we are introduced to Joey, TB’s best friend who is a girl and has a secret. But I’m still guessing as to what it is. There is some Italian involved with one of the stories, when they go to Italy.

Anyway, TB gets involved with Pirates, boat-napping captains, gondolas, and angry jocks. So, if you’re a fan of graphic novels, you’ll love love love this book. And I do know that there is going to be another Teen Boat book in the distant future. So, I can tell you, I’m excited.

I was also surprised that John Green co-wrote this book* because I always took him for a more serious writer (and I didn’t want to read him because of it), but this definitely changed my mind. I hope it changes your mind about him, too.

*Librarian’s note: This is a different John Green, but don’t blame Jayne–I assumed it was THE John Green and told her so. D’oh! Still, “TB” is HILARIOUS.

Hot Summer Reads

The heat wave that’s been gripping most of our country has technically broken, or at least The Weather Channel isn’t currently predicting any highs in the 90s in Pittsburgh’s near future.  That’s fantastic news to me because I really don’t function well at those temperatures.  I get irritable and restless, but I can’t do anything but lay on the couch, and my attention span is completely shot.  I basically just try to keep myself as distracted as I can and hope the worst of the weather passes quickly.

But of course, this heat wave was in no hurry to move on, and I’m afraid my brain has literally melted and run out of my ears.  Since there’s no way I can focus on an entire full-length book right now, I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels.  (In fact, I’ve mentioned how perfect they are for just such an occasion before.)  Here are a few of my recent favorites –

Luz Sees the Light by Claudia Davila

Luz lives in a world where power outages are occurring more and more often, and gas prices are soaring.  As she begins to understand why these things are happening, she decides she wants to do something about it – start a community garden in an abandoned lot.  But can she convince the neighborhood to help her?

The Littlest Pirate King by Jason B.

A ghost ship full of long-dead pirates has been roaming the seas for years, looking for a way to end their miserable existence and move on to the next.  But in the meantime, they maintain the traditional pirate lifestyle of killing and plundering other ships.  When they discover a living baby has survived one of their raids, they decide to keep him.  Of course, it’s only a matter of time until the boy grows up…

Nursery Rhyme Comics, edited by Chris Duffy

Each of the 50 nursery rhymes in this collection is illustrated by a famous cartoonist.  I was really impressed by several of the stories, but my favorite was probably Lucy Knisley’s take on “The Old Woman Who Lived In a Shoe.”

Freshman: Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions, Revelations, and Other Nonsense by Corinne Mucha

Annie’s just started high school, and it’s already not going well.  Her old best friend has gotten weird and isn’t speaking to her, and she’s not completely comfortable with her new friends yet either.  Her brother convinces her that freshman year sets the course for the rest of your future, but she can’t even figure out what she’s good at.  She’s terrible at sports, and she’s not sure about acting either.  Even her love life seems hopelessly doomed.  Can Annie get it together before it’s too late?

Have you read any good graphic novels (or anything else) lately?  Make sure you sign up for Teen Summer Reading and log them, so you can be eligible for fabulous prizes!


We need your opinion! Be a graphic novel reviewer.

Every year, the Young Adult Services Association, a national association of Young Adult Librarians/Library Staff/Library Advocates, puts out lists of the best media of the year in a bunch of different subjects.  Don’t like long, slow books? Take a look at the Quick Picks list. Prefer movies? We have Fabulous Films for you. Want to read nonfiction? They have it. Into books published for adults?  They’re onto that too.

There is also a list of the best graphic novels published for teens, and that’s where we need your help.  In January, this list is voted on through a committee.  I’ve volunteered to be on it, so all this year I’ve been reading comics and graphic novels to find what I think are the best ones that teens would like.  The rest of the committee and other graphic novel readers have also been nominating titles for the list.  But we need to know what the teen readers really think. After all, we’re making the list for you.

If you want to let the committee know what you think of the nominated titles, you can do so by

1. finding a nominated title by looking at the list

2. getting it from your library (or asking me if I have a reading copy you can borrow)

3. reading it

4. using this online form to tell me what you thought of it.

Then I can take your opinions with me to help us decide what really are the Great Graphic Novels of this year.

Have a title that’s not nominated yet, but you think it should be?  You can nominate it using this form – but it has to have been published after September 2011.

Happy reading,

-Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

Rural reads

I grew up in a tiny town in the corn belt where the first kid to ride his tractor to school was not the last. We swam in ponds as often as in pools. The super-spacious Midwestern sprawl and lack of public transport meant that, once I learned to drive, I usually got where I was going with the windows down at…um…a totally legal and safe speed.

That car now is scrap metal, and as summer activities go, Pittsburgh beats the flatlands with no contest!  But gorgeous summer afternoons, grilling with friends, cinema in the park and some of the most ridiculous jams from the 90’s have the power to send me back to my neighborhood with force. These books do the same, and it’s kinda nice!

The Oxford Project by Peter Feldstein and Stephen G. Bloom

In 1984, the author set out to photograph everyone in his hometown of Oxford, Iowa, instructing them to “come as you are.” Twenty years later, Feldstein hunted down the same people who had stood in front of his lens the first go-around and published the photographs side-by-side. Each set of photos comes with a brief interview of the participant, and they range from downright wacky to mundane. I’ve never thought of small town life as stunning, but this series of portraits absolutely changed my mind.


Rotters by Daniel Kraus

Joey was 16 when his mother tragically died and he was shipped from Chicago to rural Iowa to live with a father he barely knew. Living with a near-stranger is hard, but finding out the stink in your shack comes from the graves your dad is robbing? Arguably worse. This takes the small (and big) town mantra “nothing ever HAPPENS around here!” and runs it through the wringer. This book is not for the weak of stomach, but if you enjoy a thoughtfully dark read, you will get what you came for with Rotters.


Need to get out of the city – if only for a little while? Check out some of these other awesome reads with rural settings.



Whitney, CLP – Main

Moviegoers Assemble! The Avengers From Comics to Film

copyright Alex Ross

Over the weekend, Marvel’s “The Avengers”  passed $1 billion in worldwide box office. After raking in $207.4-million last weekend (a record for the biggest opening — not adjusting for inflation) the comic book adaptation piled up an additional $103.2 million in its second weekend of domestic release. (Kaufman, Los Angeles Times)

What’s more, The Avengers is getting very good reviews. Knowing all of this, the 8-year-old version of me would be shocked and appalled that I haven’t yet seen this movie. After all, I still love comics (as readers of this blog probably know) and the superhero blockbusters of today are mostly high quality action/adventure films that I want to see just simply because they’re good. Not to worry, 8-year-old me, I’ll finally be seeing The Avengers tonight.

Fans have been looking forward to The Avengers ever since Iron Man (starring Roberty Downey, Jr.) was released in 2008. Now that most of the principal Avengers characters have had their own movie (or two), the stars have aligned and director Joss Whedon‘s Avengers has not only been released, but it’s smashing records like the Hulk smashes, well, everything.

Though I’ve waited out the really big crowds, I’m very excited that I’m finally seeing the movie. In honor of The Avengers film, I’d like to suggest you read some really great Avengers stories from the library’s collection. Have any questions? Leave a comment or attend this month’s meeting of Out of the Gutter: CLP’s Graphic Novel Discussion Group.

Avengers Assemble!

a list of great Avengers graphic novels

For all Avengers comic collections, click HERE.

Essential Avengers (v. 1-6) – Co-created by Stan Lee and the immortal Jack “King” Kirby (also the original illustrator), The Essential Avengers features black and white reprints of the original Avengers issues from the 60s. Here you’ll find the first appearances of Kang the Conqueror, Immortus, and the Masters of Evil as well as the return of Captain America in issue #4.

Avengers/Defenders War by Steve Englehart ; pencilers, Bob Brown & Sal Buscema– So you’ve read The Avengers’ origin story, now you need to pick up this classic 70s crossover. Long before event books became the norm, Avengers/Defenders was a rare crossover, but unlike today’s big events, Avengers/Defenders is self-contained, clear, and concise. In this story, the demon Dormammu’s planned conquest of  the universe is underway when he enlists the aid of a blind Loki. The Defenders unwittingly help the villain which puts them at odds with “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”, The Avengers. If you’re reading Avengers vs. X-Men, you will be interested in hero vs. hero fights like: Dr. Strange vs. Black Panther and Mantis, Vision and Scarlet Witch vs. Silver Surfer, and Iron Man vs. Hawkeye.

Avengers/Invaders by Alex Ross and Jim Krueger – The original Invaders (Captain America, Bucky, Human Torch, Toro, and, Namor the Sub-Mariner) return, courtesy of Alex Ross. The Marvel Universe’s first super team finds itself transported from the battlefields of World War II to the present where they encounter two teams of Avengers who, post Secret Invasion, wonder whether or not they can trust these heroes.

Avengers Disassembled by Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch – The proverbial crap hits the fan in this, the beginning of Brian Michael Bendis’ run on Avengers. A recently deceased Avenger returns…as a zombie! She-Hulk goes nuts, Ant-Man dies, and an Avenger is responsible for all of it! This is a great jumping-on point for current Avengers readers. Start here and follow Bendis all the way to the present if you want to get to know the current Avengers roster.

New Avengers: Breakout! by Brian Michael Bendis – In the wake of the systematic destruction of the original Avengers, just what sort of threat to the world could persuade Captain America to assemble an all-new team? Try a breakout at The Raft, a prison where all of Marvel’s most dangerous super-villains and ne’er-do-wells reside. Check out the new lineup here: Cap, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Wolverine! Fate has brought them together, and now Captain America wants to make it permanent! Who will take his hand and join the new Avengers? And will they be strong enough to fight the mysterious forces at play around them?


Corey, Digital Learning Librarian

Calling All Comic, Graphic Novel, and Manga Readers!!!

The nominations for YALSA’s 2012 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list have been finalized!  All year I’ve been reading all the new graphic novels, superhero stories, and manga I can get my hands on to evaluate and nominate titles, because last year I was selected as a committee member for this list.  But the committee doesn’t just need my opinion.  We also want to hear what you think about the titles that have been nominated to be on the list.

Our final discussions will take place during the ALA Midwinter Conference.  That’s on January 20-24 of next year.  That still gives you time to read some of the books and send me your thoughts. Many of them are available from the library!  But some of them are so new we haven’t even gotten them on the shelves yet.  However, I have copies!

Publishers generously send the committee members review copies of nominated titles, so I have a whole shelf of them here at CLP – East Liberty.  Leave a comment on this post telling me which ones you’re interested in, the library branch you go to, and the librarian that you know there, and I’ll send the books over for you to read. All you have to do is fill out a one page evaluation form telling me your thoughts about whatever you’ve read.  OR you can email me the info at barbert@carnegielibrary.org

The opinions of actual readers are so helpful to us when discussion time comes around.  So please lend me your voice and help us select the books that will end up being Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2012.  Once again, the list of nominations can be found here.  And below you’ll see a sampling of some of the covers of the nominated books.

Thanks! I look forward to hearing from you.

Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

Summer Means Graphic Novels

Okay, so I read graphic novels all year.  But I think they’re perfect for those hot, lazy days when a plain wall of text would put me to sleep.  Since half (or more) of the story is in the illustrations, I can usually follow along even when my brain is melting.  I can read most of them in one sitting if I want to, but they’re also easy to pick up and put down.  And they count for Teen Summer Reading, which means that you’re eligible for fabulous prizes for reading them.

Here are some things I’ve read recently, and one I’m looking forward to —

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

Dog wants a friend, so he builds Robot.  Things couldn’t be better… until they go to the beach and Robot rusts.  Dog can’t think of a way to help his friend, so he reluctantly leaves.  And before Dog can come rescue Robot, the beach closes for the winter.  What can they do?

A.L.I.E.E.E.N. by Lewis Trondheim

The author claims to have found this book while hiking in the mountains.  There are no words in it — at least, none from Earth.  And yet you can still understand the  aliens’ weird adventures, including going to the doctor, hunting each other, and running from a tidal wave of alien poop.

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer by Van Jensen

I reviewed this on Eleventh Stack last week, but I love it so much I wanted to make sure I told you guys about it too.

“Soon after the original Pinocchio story ended, vampires moved into the area and killed Gepetto.  Of course, nobody believed Pinocchio, so he took vengeance into his own hands, and became a vampire slayer. You see, to drive a stake through their hearts, all he had to do was lie…”

Dragon Puncher by James Kochalka

Dragon Puncher is a cat, and also a knight.  Spoony-E is his baby-faced sidekick.  Together they take on a dangerous dragon.  Not only is this book hilarious by itself, it makes me want to photoshop me and my friends into our own cartoon adventures.

(Dragon Puncher cover photo courtesy of Top Shelf Productions)

21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago

This is the one I haven’t read yet, but I’m looking forward to it.  Everyone I know has been talking it up lately, including Corey’s review on this very blog.  And really, what goes better with summer than baseball?

Do you like graphic novels too?  You may be interested in the graphic novel discussion group at the Main Library in Oakland.  It’s called Out of the Gutter, and it’s for adults and teens who want to hang out with fellow graphic novel fans and talk about independent and new releases.


21: The Story of Roberto Clemente

21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago

If you’re a teenager, you’ve never seen The Pittsburgh Pirates finish better than .500. Sad, but true. I barely remember the ‘Bucs being competitive when I was a kid. Since Jose Lind’s error in game seven of the 1992 NLCS it’s seriously all been downhill. Not one winning season!

But there were many years when they were great. The Pirates have been around since 1882 (they’ve been known as the “Pirates” since 1891), winning 9 NL Pennants, and 5 World Series titles.

Some of the greatest players of all time have suited up for the ‘Bucs: Honus Wagner, Ralph Kiner, Bill Mazeroski, Willie Stargell, Barry Bonds, and OF COURSE Roberto Clemente–humanitarian, member of the 3,000 Hit Club, and strong-armed right fielder.

Now is a great time to learn more about Clemente–a wonderful graphic novel 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente has just come out and the author/artist is going to be signing copies at Phantom of the Attic Comics in Oakland on May 21st.

And if that’s not enough, here are a couple other great Clemente resources from your friends at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh:

Chasing 3000 (motion picture, 2008) – Two brothers, one of whom is afflicted with muscular dystrophy, make the drive from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh in hopes of witnessing Roberto Clemente’s 3000th hit.

Clemente: The passion and grace of baseball’s last hero by David Maraniss – “Maraniss deftly balances baseball and loftier concerns like racism; he presents a nuanced picture of a ballplayer more complicated than the encomiums would suggest, while still wholly deserving them.” (Publishers Weekly)

Corey, CLP – Main

My First Post

Hi everyone, I’m Denise.  Like Michael, I’m new to CLPTeensburgh, but I’ve been working at the library for a while.  For the last few years, I’ve been a part of the Job and Career Education Center (JCEC), where you can get help with standardized tests, the college application process, starting a job search, and more.  I also occasionally work in the Main library Teen department, and I write for Eleventh Stack, the Main library’s adult services blog.

My hobbies include crocheting, mod-podging stuff to other stuff, and generally being crafty.  I love all kinds of music, and will listen to pretty much anything.  It helps that I recently discovered the awesome randomness of CoolTV, and  Pandora.  And of course, I read a lot.  I just finished the graphic novel Ghostopolis, and I’m excited to hear that Hugh Jackman’s turning it into a movie.  Before that I read The Lying Game, the first book in a new thriller / mystery series by Sara Shepard.  And before that I read Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson, in which Tyler, a high school student, struggles with popularity, family pressure, and the consequences of having a bad reputation.

Well, that’s enough about me for now.  I have to save something to talk about in my next post.  In the meantime, I’m very happy to be a part of this blog, and I look forward to getting to know you all better.

Until next month…!


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