fiction favorites…a trio of graphic novels

I am a neophyte when it comes to graphic novels. I think I’ve only had two or three in my blog to date.

I’m interested in exploring more of them, though. Such a powerful art form, and so accessible to reluctant readers. If you haven’t ventured into this genre, I recommend you pick one of these up from your library and take a look:

the arrival shaun tan cover imageThe Arrival, by Shaun Tan
published in 2007 by Arthur A. Levine Books




Australian artist Shaun Tan’s exploration of an immigrant’s journey to a new land and new life left me thunderstruck. His visual depiction of the mind-bending newness and disconcerting unfamiliarity of a place is brilliant.

The strain of deciphering a new culture, the loneliness, the welcome relief of an insider with an offer of friendship, the camaraderie of fellow immigrants, the varied, emotive, back-stories of those who seek refuge in a new country —

— it’s all laid out here vividly and powerfully, without a single word.

the arrival illustration by shaun tan

Don’t rush through this book. There is so much to puzzle out and grasp. Tan’s short afterword gives a glimpse of some of the historic pieces that informed his artwork, so look for that. A savvy 7-year-old may appreciate this, all the way through Grandpa. Anyone who has lived in a second culture will particularly resonate with it. Highly recommended.

hilda and the midnight giant cover image2Hilda and the Midnight Giant, by Luke Pearson
published in 2011 by Nobrow Ltd.

Have you read any Moomintroll stories by Tove Jansson, and especially, have you seen her comic books? Because Luke Pearson’s work definitely struck that same chord in me. And that’s a good thing 🙂

Set in another world with a somewhat Nordic feel, and populated by an odd collection of invented creatures and very tiny people, Hilda and the Midnight Giant is actually the second of Pearson’s Hilda stories. I haven’t seen his first, Hildafolk, and this was still easy to jump into. You simply have to walk into a newhilda and the midnight giant by luke pearson world.

Hilda is a bright-eyed, adventurous girl who lives in a quiet valley with her mom. She reminds me a bit of Jansson’s Little My, though she’s more reasonable by far. Anyway, the valley seems to belong solely to the two of them, but they’re about to find out otherwise. Suddenly, if Hilda can’t make peace with the vexed tiny folk, she and her mom will see their beautiful home destroyed.

It’s an absorbing fantasy for early elementary and up. Full of eccentric characters and misunderstandings to resolve, plus a strand of long-suffering love. 

hilda and the bird parade cover imageHilda and the Bird Parade, by Luke Pearson
published in 2012 by Flying Eye Books

This Hilda story picks up where the Midnight Giant leaves off, but now Hilda lives in the city of Trolberg.

Although she still has exploration in her bones, her mom is understandably reluctant to let her roam the city on her own. When a new group of schoolfriends offers to take her with them, Hilda gets an abrupt introduction to their unpleasant idea of fun. She chooses her own way of kindness instead, rescuing a raven wounded in one of their hilda and the bird parade by luke pearsongames, and the gang ditches her.

That’s how Hilda winds up lost in the city with an amnesiac raven who is quite a character, while her frantic mom waits on tenterhooks at home. How a magnificent bird parade/festival figures into the happy ending, you’ll have to read to find out.

Hilda is a plucky, loving character, and this is another upbeat, exciting, wonder-filled adventure for young elementary children. If we’re lucky, Luke Pearson will continue these tales.

The other graphic novels I’ve reviewed are Around the World and Bluffton, both by Matt Phelan.