A positive, highly personal addition to the body of LGBTQ+ stories.

QUEER AS ALL GET OUT

10 PEOPLE WHO'VE INSPIRED ME

Criswell’s debut graphic novel blends memoir with minibiographies of global LGBTQ+ changemakers.

Rather than attempting a comprehensive history, the illustrated biographical sketches provide a well-researched, if slightly disjointed, catalog of 10 queer people the author finds especially inspirational. This broad selection offers a starting place for readers seeking meaningful connections with the past. As White, nonbinary college student Criswell wanders around San Antonio, Texas, they unpack the complexities of Southern identity and begin to research, draw, and discuss significant icons with friends. Accompanying them on this journey, readers meet history-makers who are often overlooked by mainstream U.S. sources—people who broaden Criswell’s understanding of the difficulties facing those who have fought for LGBTQ+ justice around the world. This approach effectively anchors contemporary life to these influencers. At times the transitions and interjections are a bit stiff, but what is lacking in flow is countered by Criswell’s crisp drawings and eye for details. The choice of subjects reflects diverse perspectives—Nancy Cárdenas, Ifti Nasim, We’wha, and Dr. Pauli Murray, among others—and the biographies address how intersectional identities ground the subjects’ experiences of injustice. As this is a narrative of individual awakening and learning, the framing of the narrator’s reactions to their discoveries sometimes feels naïve, and readers may wish Criswell included more reflection on aspects of their own identity. The tight scope and clear, sequential illustrations will appeal to many who are seeking a window into LGBTQ+ histories.

A positive, highly personal addition to the body of LGBTQ+ stories. (glossary, further reading, resources) (Graphic nonfiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-951491-07-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Street Noise Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

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THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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A triumphant story of bravery and defiance that will shock and inspire.

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SYMPHONY FOR THE CITY OF THE DEAD

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH AND THE SIEGE OF LENINGRAD

The epic tale of the siege of Leningrad and its native son, composer Dmitri Shostakovich, whose seventh symphony comforted, consoled, and rallied a population subjected to years of unspeakable suffering.

Anderson vividly chronicles the desperate lengths residents went to, including acts of cannibalism, to survive the Wehrmacht’s siege, a 3-year-long nightmare that left more than 1 million citizens dead. The richly layered narrative offers a keen-eyed portrait of life in the paranoid, ruthlessly vengeful Stalinist Soviet Union, its citizens living under a regime so capriciously evil that one could be heralded a hero of the motherland one day and condemned as a traitor the next. The storytelling is captivating, describing how Shostakovich began composing the symphony under relentless bombardment in Leningrad and later finished it in Moscow, its triumphant performance in Leningrad during the siege, and how it rallied worldwide sympathy for Russia’s plight. Music is at the heart of the story. As Anderson writes in the prologue, “it is a story about the power of music and its meanings,” and he communicates them with seeming effortlessness in this brilliantly written, impeccably researched tour de force.

A triumphant story of bravery and defiance that will shock and inspire. (photos, author’s note, sources notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6818-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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