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Year in Review 2021

Here is a rundown of the some of the best books of 2021, imho. As part of my work (and because I just like to), I read a great deal of graphic novels, but this list features a variety of texts. In no particular order...

Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds and Raúl the Third: This is the first foray into the graphic novel/comics medium for Jason Reynolds. I love this groundbreaking poet's work, and it's wonderful to see his play alongside the vivid artwork of Raúl the Third.

Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story by Lilliam Rivera and Steph C: It's another graphic novel, this time from the world of DC Comics. Easily one of my favorite Green Lantern stories, and a lovely exploration of place, language, and identity, and one of my favorites among the DC YA series.

Artie and the Wolf Moon by Olivia Williams: Oh, hey, look. Another graphic novel! This one is beautifully done, detailed in its illustrations, and blends some intriguing mythology for a unique take. I fell even more in love with it after hearing a talk from the author/artist.

The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness by Gregory Boyle: There's something of faith in me, and a clinging to hope even in the craziness of 2020 and 2021. Boyle's writing is thoughtful and elevates the spiritual memoir in a way that is most rare.

Tristan Strong Keeps Punching by Kwame Mbalia: Tristan Strong is probably my favorite character to emerge from the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. These books would most definitely be on my classroom shelf, and I love the way Mbalia brings legend and mythology to life.

Jukebox by Nidhi Chanani: Back to the graphic novels! I enjoy Chanani's style, and the playlist in this book is a nice touch. When I first heard that this author/artist had this book on the horizon, I was excited -- and the book's historical journey did not disappoint.

Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: This author writes prose, but it is so poetic. This sequel is a further journey into the characters presented in the first novel, and I highly recommend it. Well worth diving into (please forgive the pun).

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro: Imagine a world where folx are isolated and relationships with machines are birthed. The relationship of humanity and technology is explored through a capable (Nobel Prize-winning) literary voice.

Cardboard Kingdom: Roar of the Beast by Chad Sell: I love the way Sell mingles together the lives and imagination of young people in this book and the preceding entry in the series. Creative, inspiring, and an enjoyable episodic comics journey.

Save It for Later by Nate Powell: Of course, I love Powell's work in the March series and across several other titles (another of my favorites is Swallow Me Whole). This exploration of the time we are living in, through Powell's vulnerable and artistic style hit my heart more than once.

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