Oh I loved this one! A funny and relatable graphic novel about trying to fit in. Huda’s family moves to Dearborn where she realizes she’s no longer the only hijabi in class. She doesn’t seem to belong to the gamers or the athletes or the fashionistas. Can Huda figure out who she is and learn to accept herself? The author blends self-discovery with heavier topics like Islamophobia and microagressions. Honest and charming.
Tag / comics
Himawari House – Harmony Becker
HIMAWARI HOUSE by HARMONY BECKER, pictured with some Singapore treats – love letters and pineapple tarts.
A delightful graphic novel about three international students who move to Japan. The main character is Nao, who’s in Japan to connect with her birth country. She moves into a house and becomes good friends with two girls – Hyejung from Korea and Tina from Singapore. They all attend the same Japanese language school.
Himawari House is a story about growing up, about being out there on your own and far away from home.
I was definitely not expecting a Singapore accent in this book but the writer really hit it spot on.
The use of different languages in the book was a great highlight. Not just Japanese language but also Korean. And I guess Singlish (Singapore-style English) can also be counted as a language? (“Like English but deluxe flavor”).
I loved this book. I loved how the different languages were used – casually, yet effectively showing us how it is to struggle in this multilingual world. It feels weird to write this but I guess it shows that Asian people are different, are distinct. The Korean girl is unique, the Singaporean girl is unique, the American girl who is half-Japanese is unique. We are Asian, and to many people we may look similar (black hair, black eyes) but we are so different from each other.
Ham Helsing: Vampire Hunter – Rich Moyer
It’s hot. So this calls for ice-cream and a fun comic! This is HAM HELSING VAMPIRE HUNTER by Rich Moyer, and it was such a blast! The kids read it first and it looked like such fun that I knew I had to read it too.
Ham Helsing is on his first assignment, to hunt down a vampire. But the vampire isn’t the one terrorizing the town. So who is?
The illustrations are delightful. The dialogue is witty. And the characters are great. A vampire with social anxiety. Treasure-obsessed rats. A ninja pig.
Stargazing by Jen Wang
Wang wrote the fantastic The Prince and the Dressmaker, a comic with a wonderful message about acceptance and love, and so I was looking forward to this one, which seemed less fairytale-like with its cover of two young girls sitting together.
But similar to The Prince and the Dressmaker, this is a story about an unlikely friendship.
Moon Lim and her mother move into the granny flat behind Christine’s house, after Christine’s parents offer it to the struggling widow and her child. Christine isn’t sure about Moon at first, she’s rumoured to be free with her fists, she’s impulsive and rambunctious, while Christine is reserved and obedient, trying hard to please her parents. But they soon share a love for dancing to K-pop music and plan to join the school’s talent show.
Moon has a secret though, she sometimes sees celestial beings who want them to join her, so she says. Christine eventually learns what the reason behind that is. And that kind of surprised me, but later, when I read the author’s note about her own background, it made a lot of sense.
I really liked how Wang showed the diversity among the Chinese-American community. Christine’s family is what you would consider more typically Asian – hardworking, studious, plays the violin, attends Chinese school, strict parents, that kind of thing. Moon is more of a free spirit, she doesn’t know much (if any) Chinese, she’s vegetarian, and more drawn to the arts.
Stargazing is a great comic for kids but I think adults will like this one too. I definitely did.
Comics: The Girl from the Other Side; Nancy
THE GIRL FROM THE OTHER SIDE: SIÚIL, A RÚN vol 2
First read of the year is a strange one. Also it’s the second volume in the series as I started and finished the first one on the last day of 2019. A series I hadn’t heard of until browsing the library’s ebook catalogue and the cover just stood out for me.
Who is this strange creature and why is this little girl with it? I also loved the stark colors. And the inside, like pretty much all manga I’ve read, is only in black and white.
There is a fairy tale-likeness to this series. A young innocent girl separated from her family and into the house of this beast with horns. But he is no vile monster. He looks after her, feeds her, and cares for her. She calls him Teacher. But she can not touch him for those who touch these beasts are cursed.
The curse itself isn’t really explained much in the first two volumes but it is horrible enough that people have died, villages emptied, and armed soldiers sent to look for this possibly cursed young child in the woods.
A fascinating series with beautiful artwork
NANCY BY OLIVIA JAIMES
Book 2 of 2020 is another comic. This one also one I hadn’t heard of before. Apparently it started in 1938 and was at its height in the 70s (in over 700 newspapers). Growing up in Singapore, our one newspaper was (and pretty much still is) The Straits Times and they didn’t carry Nancy. Or at least I don’t remember that they did. I remember they had Sherman’s Lagoon and Baby Blues. Probably Peanuts.
So it was another case of browse the ebook catalogue and oh this looks fun and hit download.
And what a delight this was. Seeing the cover I expected an older comic so I was thrilled to see how phone addicted Nancy was – and also soon realized this was the new Nancy. One that was published from 2018 with its first-ever female author who goes by the pen name Olivia Jaimes.
And Nancy is such a hoot. She’s grouchy and she’s sassy. And it was such an absolute delight to read. I just loved every page of it, especially those meta ones!
My Brother’s Husband Vol 2 by Gengoroh Tagame
This is volume two of this two-part series so if you haven’t read it yet, please understand that there may be spoilers!
So go go go! Go read the first part!
So since you’re still reading, I’m guessing you know that this is a continuation of the stories of Mike, Yaichi and Kana. Mike is still staying with Yaichi and Kana.
Yaichi continues to understand more about his feelings towards Mike’s relationship with his brother. He’s starting to realize that they make a family too, even though they may not look like your typical Japanese family.
The three of them, as well as Kana’s mother, take a trip to an onsen and you’re going to want to start booking a trip to Japan because oh, I definitely did after reading those pages!
But wanderlust aside, I loved how Yaichi continues to grow in this volume. His talk with Kana’s teacher is a lesson in calm and sensibility. His realization about his treatment of his brother is devastating and yet also redeeming.
And I shed many a tear as the book drew to an end.
What an absolute pleasure this series was to read.
(I just found out that there is a TV series based on the book – three episodes were aired in Japan in 2018 – hopefully it’ll be something that will be available in the US??)
I read this for Asian Lit Bingo – Graphic novel with Asian MC.
Quincredible Vol 1
A fun read. After a strange meteor shower, Quinn is invulnerable and can’t be hurt. He thinks it’s a lousy superpower at first. Then he meets Glow, who also has a meteor-given superpower and she encourages him to do something to help his community.
I like Quin and how relatable he is, and I like how his parents are a part of the story too. The rest of the diverse cast of superheroes is great too – like Quin, many of them are just trying to figure things out as they go. The villain in this case was a bit forgettable but hopefully in future volumes that can be improved on.
I appreciate how the comic was optimistic and hopeful, and has a great young superhero for our times.
*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a free ARC of this book*.
Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu makes me want to know more about hockey
I know pretty much nothing about ice hockey! I grew up in a land where hockey = the kind with rounded sticks and a round ball and is played in a field. Very different kind of hockey.
And to be honest, this book was requested from the library because I saw “Check, Please!” on the Reading The End blog and thought, oh, a comic set in a restaurant? Yes, please!Turned out to be a different kind of check all together. But this comic has now turned me into a…. well, not a complete turnaround into a hockey fan but at least someone who’s curious now about hockey and wouldn’t say no to watching a game!
I love that the main character is a newbie, a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team. Bittle (or Bitty as he’s known) is a former figure skater, a baking aficionado (he makes pies!) and is gay but still hasn’t come out yet. And the teammates he has! There’s Shitty who’s funny and smart and deep. Holster and Ransom are in an amazing bromance. Then there’s Jack, the handsome captain with a sad past and who Bitty has the biggest ever crush on.
It reminds me of manga, mostly because of the way Bitty has such big eyes. And there’s a cuteness to it that I would never associate with ice hockey.
So even if you don’t care an inkling about ice hockey like I do, Check, Please! is a fun comic series to try out! Also it will make you hungry for pie.
Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill #bookreview
Happy sigh. I adore the work of Katie O’Neill – she of the lovely Tea Dragon Society!
In this book, a young girl and her dad visit her aunt who lives on a small island that’s been hit by a storm. Lana discovers a baby aquicorn, a kind of seahorse-like creature and she nurses it back to health. It is a tale of loss and grief – Lana is learning to cope with the death of her mother. And also one of the environment – the underwater creatures’ homes are being destroyed by overfishing and pollution. And all accompanied by O’Neill’s gorgeous vibrant illustrations
#AsiannLitBingo – Such a Lovely Little War by Marcelino Truong
A beautifully illustrated graphic memoir of a young French-Vietnamese boy living in Vietnam with his family during the 1960s.
Marcelino Truong’s father worked as a translator for Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem in the 1960s. The family moves from the US, where they had been living for the past three years, to Vietnam. I’m not sure how old the three kids are but they look between the ages of 6 to 12. Their mother is French and their father Vietnamese.
It’s fascinating seeing the Vietnam war through the eyes of this young boy, upper-class, who lives in a nice apartment with servants to help his mother do housework and drive them around.
And more unusual for that time, whether in Vietnam or the US, a biracial family,
I may be from Southeast Asia (Singapore), but we never learnt anything much about the Vietnam War in school. I’ve since then read some books about it but I’ve learnt from this graphic memoir too, especially about Madame Nhu, the de facto First Lady at the time (the Prime Minister was a lifelong bachelor and she was his sister-in-law). She pushed for “morality laws” like banning divorce, abortions, dance halls, boxing matches.
Truong has a beautiful illustration style. The images look a little like woodcuts.
He occasionally includes drawings from his childhood, letters from his mother to his grandparents in France.
I read this for Asian Lit Bingo – multiracial/multiethnic Asian MC. Find out more details about the challenge here.