Librarian’s Choice: Books with Pictures

This blog post comes from Kate, a community librarian based in the east of the city.

I thought about organising my recommendations for illustrated books by age group, or category but in the end I decided against it. “Picture Books” are still often regarded as the territory of small children, but I hope this selection proves that is not the case.

Kate Iron ManThe Iron Man by Ted Hughes, illustrated by Laura Carlin

This is a classic modern fairy tale of a boy who befriends a dangerous, but misunderstood, metal guzzling robot who goes on to save the world. In this edition Laura Carlin’s stunning illustrations evoke a real sense of drama. The book includes gatefold pages and peep holes giving a physical dimension to sections of building tension as well as the huge scale of the story and its monsters.
The striking images and simple drama of Hughes’ text are so successful at creating the world of The Iron Man that I find myself getting lost between the pages of this book over and over again. The message of love and peace is universal, applicable across age groups and decades.

Kate SallySally Heathcote, Suffragette– by Mary M. Talbot artist- Kate Charlesworth

Telling the story of Sally Heathcote, a character of a maid working for Emmeline Pankhurst in turn of the century Manchester, the graphic novel offers another way into the world of the suffragettes. As a reader, you journey through time with Sally, watching the movement progress and the main character become more informed, better educated and increasingly politically involved. Using the personal viewpoint of Sally gives already shocking elements of the story, such as the force feeding of political prisoners, even more intensity and brings home both the horror of the event and the strength of the women who went through it.

The format of the graphic novel drew me in to the narrative, immersing me in the emotional and political turmoil experienced by activists whilst also feeding me information about the struggle through the inclusion of headline events and important dates. The artist uses gentle tones throughout, but with shocks of colour, including Sally’s red hair that show the passion and strength of the women. The purple, green and white of the suffragette movement are also prominent and the pictures deliver a lasting visual impression of the determination of the women involved. Whether as an introduction to the subject, or as an emotive read for those already familiar with the facts, I think this powerful book is well worth a read.

Kate BearSomething About a Bear written and illustrated by Jackie Morris

On a recent trip to our suppliers to purchase children’s non-fiction books, I couldn’t tear myself away from the gaze of the beautiful brown bear gazing out from the cover of this book. Every double page spread is filled with an immense and detailed painting of bears and poetic descriptions of the species and how they live. Despite undeniably offering an education on bears, this book is far from being a typical information book. I challenge you to walk past this book on a shelf without picking it up and burying yourself in its pages.

Kate ChildA Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

Anyone who knows much about my reading habits will not be surprised to see a book by Oliver Jeffers on this list. They may be surprised to see only one and I must admit it was a hard choice. If you are not familiar with his work, get out there and explore it!

The plot follows a little girl leading a boy on an adventure of the imagination through the varied worlds of literature but A Child of Books if much more than a story- it’s a mantra for reading, a reminder about the importance and magic of the imagination. Would it go too far to say that this should be compulsory reading for all children, parents, educators, librarians, those who love books and those who don’t…?
Sam Winston and Oliver Jeffers collaborated on the illustrations combining Jeffers’ stylish line drawings and Winston’s typography to create a world truly made of books which the characters explore. Winston has used extracts from children’s classics from appropriate genres to match each setting. The illustrations in this book not only strengthen the story but add a historical, literary dimension encouraging readers to explore literature beyond the picture book world.

Kate MonsterA Monster Calls written by Patrick Ness illustrated by Jim Kay

This is the heart-breaking story of a real life nightmare as teenaged Connor struggles with the impending loss of his mother to cancer. Visited nightly by a monster, telling dark and twisted tales, Connor comes face to face with his situation and learns a difficult and upsetting truth.

There are many editions of this beautiful story available, and it has also been made into an amazing film, but this illustrated version, with its dark, tangled illustrations is particularly haunting. Kay’s pictures evoke the deep sense of oncoming doom felt by Connor. If you can bear the heart-break of the inevitable ending, choose to read this illustrated version of the book.

Kate HatThis is Not my Hat written and illustrated by Jon Klassen

My favourite of a trilogy of picture books by Jon Klassen featuring hats, conflict and controversy, This is Not my Hat tells the story of a small but plucky fish who has stolen the hat of a much larger fish. Klassen’s bold pictures give a sense of dramatic irony as the text relates the little fish’s thoughts and the illustrations show us what’s really going on! I highly recommend all three titles, the other two being I Want my Hat Back and We Found a hat. Fabulous to share with children (those who can’t or won’t read will certainly want to “read” the pictures) or to take pleasure in on your own (I bought a copy for my Dad for father’s day and he loves it).

Kate ShackletonShackleton’s Journey written and illustrated by William Grill

Telling the epic survival story of Ernest Shackleton and the crew of The Endeavour, there is something about the size of this book along with the glorious double page spreads, which give the reader a sense of the scale of the adventure.
Some of my favourite pages include those which feature an illustration of each member of the crew along with their names and roles on board and the page which pictorially lists all of the equipment and supplies taken on the expedition. As the journey progresses, you are treated to dramatic seascapes in tones of blue, black and white. The text may seem minimal in comparison to the pictures, but it tells the true story in a narrative style that entertains and informs. This is a luxurious non-fiction book that can be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Kate LovelaceThe Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: the (mostly) true story of the first computer written and illustrated by Sydney Padua

This graphic novel takes place in a fictional history where Charles Babbage completed the building of his Analytical Engine and teams up with Ada Lovelace for a series of adventures. The pair bump into various historical figures including George Eliot and Queen Victoria in comical but historically relevant scenarios.
Bold, steampunk inspired illustrations successfully engage the reader into wanting to know more about the topic and the copious footnotes, endnotes and appendixes comply, straightening out the facts from the fiction.
This is one for computing enthusiasts, comic lovers and the uninitiated alike!

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Top 20 – Graphic Novels

Did you know we stock graphic novels for grown ups in some of our libraries? Here is a list of our top 20 most borrowed titles last month. If you think graphic novels are all superheroes and zombies this list proves that wrong. If you fancy one of them, you can reserve them for free, even if they are not at your local library. The book will then be delivered to the library that is most convenient for you.

Graphic SagaSaga by Brian Vaughan

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. ‘Saga’ is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds.

The advantage of this book is that if you enjoy it there are Saga 2, 3 and 4 to follow, all of which we have in stock.

Graphic call to armsCall to Arms (The Walking Dead) by Robert Kirkman

After being betrayed by members of his own community, Rick Grimes charts a new course and marshals his forces against the Whisperers.

This is volume 26 in the hugely popular Walking Dead series.

graphic black holeBlack Hole by Charles Burns

Suburban Seattle, the mid-1970s. We learn from the out-set that a strange plague has descended upon the area’s teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact. The disease is manifested in any number of ways — from the hideously grotesque to the subtle (and concealable) — but once you’ve got it, that’s it. There’s no turning back.

graphic fun homeFun home: a family tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

In this graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father. Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the Fun Home. It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.

graphic TWDThe Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman

Life in the prison starts to get interesting for Rick Grimes and the rest of our survivors, as relationships heat up, fizzle out and change almost overnight. By the end of this tale, relations between key characters are radically changed, setting the stage for future events in ‘The Walking Dead’.

Unsurprisingly this is the second Walking Dead novel to be featured in the list. This entry is Book 1, where it all starts.

graphic lovelaceThe thrilling adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: the (mostly) true story of the first computer by Sydney Padua

When Ada translated her friend Babbage’s plans for the ‘Difference Engine,’ her lengthy footnotes contained the first appearance of the general computing theory – 100 years before an actual computer was built. Sadly, Lovelace died of cancer a few years after publishing the paper, and Babbage never built any of his machines. But now Sydney Padua gives us an alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the ‘Difference Engine’, and then use it to do battle with the American banking system, the publishing industry, their own fears that their project will lose funding, and a villainous street musician who will force the two friends to re-evaluate their priorities – ‘for the sake of both London and science.’

graphic marieFor the love of God, Marie! by Jade Sarson

Marie is a girl with the gift of understanding, who is often misunderstood. At home and in her Catholic sixth form, she confounds family, friends and teachers with her innocent attempts to make everyone feel loved. As we follow Marie from the 1960s to the 1990s, we find out what it means to be a spirited young woman from a religious household who believes that maybe, just maybe, God doesn’t care what you do with your body as long as it makes you happy. Because really, what harm can come from loving people?

graphic paper girlsPaper Girls by Brian Vaughan

n the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.

graphic worlds endWorld’s end by Neil Gaiman and Bryan Talbot

The story begins in the first person narration of Brant Tucker, wherein he and co-worker Charlene Mooney are involved in a car crash on their way to Chicago. Charlene is hurt, and Brant is directed by a hedgehog to a strange inn named “Worlds’ End, a free house”: identified later as one of four inns where travelers between realms shelter during reality storms, which occur after momentous events. In conclusion, the revelers at the inn watch a funeral procession cross the sky, which ends with Death looking sadly into the inn, as the crescent moon behind her slowly turns red. Thereafter Brant returns alone to his own world, where he narrates his story to a waitress, while Charlene remains at the ‘Worlds’ End’ as assistant to its landlady.

graphic faustThe Faust act by Kieron Gillen (author); Jamie Mckelvie (artist); Matthew Wilson (artist); Clayton Cowles (artist)

Every 90 years, 12 gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. Welcome to ‘The Wicked + The Divine,’ where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.

grpahic night witchNight witch by Ben Aaronovitch (author); Lee Sullivan (artist); Andrew Cartmel (author)

Press-ganged into helping a Russian oligarch hunt his missing daughter, PC Peter Grant and his boss, Thomas Nightingale, London’s only wizarding cops, find themselves caught up in a battle between Russian gunmen, a monstrous forest creature – and their nemesis – the Faceless Man. But as Grant and Nightingale close in on the missing girl, they discover that nothing about this case is what it seems.

graphic giant daysGiant days by Whitney Coga ; John Allison; Lissa Treiman

Susan, Esther, and Daisy started at university three weeks ago and became fast friends. Now, away from home for the first time, all three want to reinvent themselves. But in the face of hand-wringing bays, “personal experimentation,” influenza, mystery-mold, nu-chauvinism, and the willful, unwanted intrusion of “academia,” they may be lucky just to make it to spring alive.

graphic brass sunBrass sun by Ian Edginton (author); Ian Culbard (illustrator)

Wren’s father has revealed to her the secret of their world, that it is only one of many in a clockwork solar system; but it is dying and to save her home, she must first escape it.

The Orrery is a fully functional, life-size clockwork solar system, a clutch of planets orbiting a vast Brass Sun via immense metal spars.

But the once-unified collection of worlds has regressed into eccentric fiefdoms, and ice is encroaching on the outer planets as the sun is dying. Wren and Eptimus must find the key to restart the sun, but first must escape the world known as The Keep….

graphic preacherPreacher by Garth Ennis (author); Steve Dillon (illustrator)

At first glance, the Reverend Jesse Custer doesn’t look like anyone special-just another small-town minister slowly losing his flock and his faith. But he’s about to come face-to-face with proof that God does indeed exist. Merging with a bizarre spiritual force called Genesis, Jesse now possesses the power of “the Word,” an ability to make people do whatever he utters. He begins a violent and riotous journey across the country in search of answers from the elusive deity.

graphic girlsHow to talk to girls at parties by Neil Gaiman (author); Fábio Moon (artist); Gabriel Bá (artist)

ENN is a fifteen-year-old boy who just doesn’t understand girls, while his friend Vic seems to have them all figured out. Both teenagers are in for the shock of their young lives, however, when they crash a local party only to discover that the girls there are far, far more than they appear!

graphin blueBlue is the warmest color by Julie Maroh

Clementine is a junior in high school who seems average enough: she has friends, family, and the romantic attention of the boys in her school. When her openly gay best friend takes her out on the town, she wanders into a lesbian bar where she encounters Emma: a punkish, confident girl with blue hair. Their attraction is instant and electric, and Clementine find herself in a relationship that will test her friends, parents, and her own ideas about herself and her identity.

graphic sin citySin City by Frank Miller 

Collected in this sixth volume of his crime-comic megahit are all of Miller’s Sin City shorts and one-shots, newly redesigned with a brand-new cover by Miller, some of his first comics art in years! Collecting classics like “Just Another Saturday Night” and “Silent Night,” both starring the iconic big lug with a condition, Marv; “The Customer Is Always Right,” featured in the Sin City film; and “The Babe Wore Red,” starring Sin City’s most enduring hero, Dwight, Booze, Broads, and Bullets spans every kind of dark business you might encounter on a cold night in Basin City.

graphic returnReturn to Earth by Pat Mills (author); Clint Langley (artist)

Mars, the far future. War droids created for a conflict that ended centuries ago, the ABC Warriors were recruited to bring peace to the civil war-ravaged colonies on the Red Planet. The Meknificent Seven have recently lost two of their number to the evil Volkhan’s army. Recounting a mission from the past that led him back to Earth, team leader Hammerstein reveals how he betrayed robotkind, met Ro-Jaws and joined Ro-Busters.

graphic invisiblesThe Invisibles by Grant Morrison (author); Steve Yeowell (illustrator)

Throughout history, a secret society called the Invisibles, who count among their number Lord Byron and Percy Shelley, work against the forces of order that seek to repress humanity’s growth. In this first collection, the Invisibles’ latest recruit, a teenage lout from the streets of London, must survive a bizarre, mind-altering training course before being projected into the past to help enlist the Marquis de Sade.

graphic over easyOver easy by Mimi Pond

After being denied financial aid to cover her last year of art school, Margaret finds salvation from the straightlaced world of college and the earnestness of both hippies and punks in the wisecracking, fast-talking, drug-taking group she encounters at the Imperial Café, where she makes the transformation from Margaret to Madge. At first she mimics these new and exotic grown-up friends, trying on the guise of adulthood with some awkward but funny stumbles. Gradually she realizes that the adults she looks up to are a mess of contradictions, misplaced artistic ambitions, sexual confusion, dependencies, and addictions.