In defense of the Graphic Novel

At the beginning of this month, I attended the South Island Children and
Young Adult Librarians Conference 2010  (yes, it exists) where I had the pleasure of meeting Wayne Mills. Mr Mills is senior lecturer at the School of Arts, Languages and Literacies at Auckland University as well as the originator of the fantastic Kids’ Lit Quiz, an interactive literary quiz which has spread globally since its beginning in 1991.
He changed the subject of his presentation last minute and decided to talk about why libraries are important to an audience that was already fervently in favour of that cause. I was disappointed because I really wanted to hear what he has to say about Boys and Literacy.

(Graphic) Novels can be good

Mr. Mills is widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s foremost authorities on children’s and young adult books and I found it interesting when he advocated for graphic novels and… boy! did this cause a reaction amongst the attendees!
I agree with Mr Mills in that, as any other genre of literature, graphic novels can be good or bad; I don’t think it’s fair to put them all in the same bag, exempli gratia is Maus: a survivor’s tale  by Art Spiegelman, which even won the Pulitzer Prize Special Award.

Love them… Hate them… What’s your favourite graphic novel?
It might be technically considered a comic but I quite like Tintin by Hergé and I can’t wait for Spielberg to finish the movie!

Great Young Adult author to visit Christchurch

Red spikesI have just read the most riveting book, and it has made me very excited that the author is the keynote speaker at the South Island Children’s Librarians’ Conference this year.   Margo Lanagan’s Touching earth lightly is totally absorbing, gutsy, honest, shocking and real.  This is top-class writing, perfectly structured.  Margo Lanagan is clearly someone who truly understands the complexity of the human race, particularly young people, and is not afraid to be completely honest about it.   This novel is for older teenagers and adults, and not for the faint-hearted.  Her latest collection of short stories Red Spikes won Book of the Year, Older Readers, in the 2007 Children’s Book Council of Australia’s book awards.

By all accounts, Lanagan is an excellent speaker, and also a very challenging and perceptive social and literary commentator.  I recommend her work to anyone interested in young adult literature, or who works with young adults, and thoroughly look forward to her keynote address when she comes to Christchurch in March.