Neely, Kindra. Numb to This: Memoir of a Mass Shooting. Little, Brown and Company, 2022. 978-0-316-46208-2. 304 p. $24.99. Grades 8-12.
The impact of a mass shooting continues long after the crime scene has been restored and the headlines pivot to a new story. Kindra Neely learned this firsthand after she survived a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, which left ten people dead and as many injured. (Ironically, Kindra’s mother had relocated them to Oregon in part to escape the gun culture/violence in their small Texas town.) After graduating from UCC, Kindra attempted suicide when her feelings of pointlessness and numbness overwhelmed her. She kept this attempt secret for years. Later, after matriculating at Georgia’s Savannah College of Art and Design, she continued to suffer from racing thoughts and panic attacks as a result of the trauma she had experienced. Ongoing news alerts to other mass shootings re-traumatized her time and again. Eventually, she began to heal and found a way to use her artwork to share her story. The end result is this lovely, introspective graphic memoir in which Kindra bravely shares her survivor’s journey. The color palette is generally cued to Kindra’s emotions; in particular, depictions of her panic attacks are visceral and vivid. She includes moments of despair, anger, hope, and gratitude. She also includes resources for gun violence survivors and suicide prevention.
THOUGHTS: This graphic memoir deserves a spot in every library for teens. As mass shootings continue, sadly the need for survivors to voice their stories will, too.
Smith, Tommie, Derrick Barnes, and Dawud Anyabwile. Victory. Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice. Norton Young Readers, 2022. 978-1-324-00390-8 . 208 p. $22.95. Grades 8-12.
In graphic format Tommie Smith shares the story of how he came to stand on the podium during the medal ceremony at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics as the gold medal winner in the 200-meter sprint. Together with bronze medalist John Carlos, Smith stood wearing black socks, and the two raised their black-gloved fists to protest racial injustices. But long before that pivotal moment, Smith came from a hardworking family of sharecroppers in rural Texas. Seeing their children’s education as an opportunity for a better life, Smith’s parents moved the family and Smith’s speed eventually was noticed, giving him more opportunities than they could have imagined possible. Smith attended schools that were being desegregated and a predominantly white college, facing many life-changing obstacles that shaped him into the activist he became.
THOUGHTS: Showing how great platforms come with great responsibilities, this graphic memoir deserves a place in secondary libraries looking to update their sports and/or nonfiction graphic novel collections.
Graphic Memoir Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD
796.42 Track & Field
Buckley, Jr., James. Never Forget: Heroes of 9/11. Bearport Publishing, 2022. 24 p. $20.00 ea. $120.00 set of 6. Grades 3-5.
Canine Hero. 978-1-636-91025-3. The Doctor Saves the Day. 978-1-636-91026-0. EMS to the Rescue. 978-1-636-91028-4. Fighting back in Flight. 978-1-636-91027-7. Guiding Light. 978-1-636-91023-9. Tale of Two Marines. 978-1-636-91024-6.
Heroism, helping in any way possible, and acting bravely in the face of danger are the themes emphasized in this nonfiction title about the September 11 Terrorist Attacks. This graphic nonfiction comic is one of six in the “Never Forget: Heroes of 9/11” series. The narrative nonfiction style of writing, as well as the colorful comic-style panel illustrations, will engage reluctant readers. The fast-paced action also will keep readers hooked. The story focuses on two former United States Marines who each feel compelled to do what they can to help on the day of the attacks. Both arrive at the World Trade Center and immediately begin searching for people who are trapped in the collapsed rubble. As a team, they look out for each other’s safety while also combing the debris for survivors. A backmatter section titled “A Day Like No Other” includes five paragraphs about the September 11 Attacks as well as real photographs of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Flight 93 Crash Site. A section titled “Other Ground Zero Heroes” features two other ordinary people who jumped into action on September 11. Other backmatter includes a Glossary, Index, and sections with additional book and online resource recommendations.
THOUGHTS: This is an age-appropriate, easily accessible title to share with students as they learn about the September 11 Terrorist Attacks. The focus of the book is on the heroic efforts of ordinary people in the face of extreme danger and uncertainty, not on the attackers’ motives or politics.
Nonfiction Comics Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD
973.931 United States History
Ottaviani, Jim. Astronauts: Women of the Final Frontier. First Second, 2020. 978-1-626-72877-6. 157 p. $19.99. Grades 5-8.
From page one this graphic novel challenges sexist thinking showing an astronaut taking off their suit to reveal Mary Cleave, one of the first women in space. Throughout the story astronauts like Mary Cleave and Valentina Tereshkova work hard and accomplish many feats despite the sexism they face in their daily lives. At one point John Glen and other famous male astronauts laugh at the possibility of having women join men on space missions. The story explores the diverse paths that led these astronauts to their jobs at NASA and the impressive talent, work ethic, and intense training these astronauts had to be able to operate a spaceship. The illustrations are fun, and the format allows readers of all abilities to be introduced to the incredible science behind space exploration. After reading about the lives of these trailblazers, readers will be inspired to overcome obstacles, seize opportunities, and pursue their passions.
THOUGHTS: A good addition to any graphic novel collection. The story will be appreciated by readers of nonfiction and graphic novels and will encourage readers to learn more about space flight and the history of women in space.
629.45 Manned Space Flight Jaynie Korzi, South Middleton SD