Blogger Nicole Martin

Past the Cape: Quirky Graphic Novels

I began reading comic books in elementary school, checking out issues of Spider-Man along with my stacks of Goosebumps books. I eventually broadened my horizons past the amazing web slinger and onto the X-men, Batman and the rest of the Marvel and DC Universes. I mostly read this way until my late high school and early college years, during which I discovered Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics and all the interesting stories Vertigo was publishing that didn’t involve characters in spandex. Now I will occasionally pick up a superhero book but typically gravitate towards stories outside of the caped universe. The amount of interesting, quality graphic novels and comic books that are published for young readers today is impressive and exciting to see. I often think of how young readers can be exposed to the world of comics without feeling their only choice is a caped crusader. Of course, there is…

Blogger Nicole Martin

Child Soldier and the Refugee Experience

I just finished the great graphic novel Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War by Michel Chikwanine and Jessica Dee Humphreys and would encourage everyone reading this to pick it up. The story recounts how 5 year old Michel was kidnapped near his school by rebel militiamen in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He eventually escapes, but not after being forced to commit violent acts which haunt him. The book does cover very difficult territory, but does a good job of explaining the history of the conflict and not exhibiting images too disturbing or violent for it’s intended audience. This is an important story to tell and equally important to get into the hands of tween and teen readers. The book begins with Michel arriving in North America, and ends with more details about his journey to safety. He was first a refugee in Uganda, then years later in Canada, and…

Blogger Nicole Martin

Roller Girl Rocks

I just got around to reading Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015) and boy, was it awesome! This great graphic novel for middle-grade readers follows twelve-year old Astrid, who is inspired to join a summer youth roller derby camp after her mother takes her to a Rose City Rollers derby match. Astrid immediately falls in love with the sport and aspires to be like the rad roller ladies, whose colored hair, witty names, and rainbow socks absolutely scream cool. Unfortunately, Astrid’s best friend Nicole doesn’t seem quite so impressed by the roller derby. Soon after Astrid discovers that her bestie will be spending her summer at ballet camp with one of her not-so-favorite people, Rachel. So begins Astrid’s summer of growth as she learns that sometimes friendships change and that skating is not quite as easy as it looks. The story felt very authentic to me, capturing the sort of girl drama that can blossom between friends, especially…

Blogger Nicole Martin

Eerie Graphic Novels for October

October is one of my most favorite times of year for a variety of reasons. Crisp weather makes for perfect hiking, my scarf collection makes a triumphant return from the closet, and all things pumpkin can be found. The real reason October stands out for me though is the mysterious mood cast thanks to Halloween. As a fan of spooky stories of all sorts, this month provides the perfect opportunity to share some of my top picks for eerie and ghostly reads. The graphic novels highlighted below are not holiday specific, and would be great recommendations for readers year-round, but are especially fun during this season. Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala. First Second; 2009. This quirky title by the talented Sala has it all-  dangerous mysteries, weird characters, hidden treasure, and creepy settings. K was raised in an orphanage where the children were trained to be professional thieves and now finds herself at Bellsong Academy,…

Awards & Scholarships

ALSC Institute Reflections

Oakland farmer's market

Last month I was lucky enough to attend the 2014 ALSC National Institute in Oakland, California thanks to a generous scholarship awarded to me by the Friends of ALSC. I am so grateful for the time spent at the Institute last month and would like to thank the Friends for enabling me to participate in such a stellar weekend of learning and fun. And a huge thanks to everyone at ALSC who worked hard to put together the Institute! Some of my favorite moments from the Institute have to be the wonderful author presentations and panels, especially the hilarious author panel that took place at Children’s Fairyland with Jennifer Holmes, Daniel Handler and Mac Barnett. The crowd was filled with giggling librarians and even a few fairy wings! After our breakout sessions at the park, a reception awaited us in the Emerald City. There was even a yellow brick road!…

Conferences/Meetings/Institutes

Gene Luen Yang at Breakfast for Bill #alsc14

This morning’s Breakfast for Bill program was such a treat. I absolutely love hearing authors speak about their work, personal writing journeys and library experiences. The wonderful panel today consisted of four special authors, but I was most excited to hear Gene Luen Yang speak. I loved American Born Chinese and was equally impressed with his recent Boxers & Saints titles. Yang shared his difficulty finding reading at the local library once he reached 5th grade which led him to discover the local comic book store. He hilariously told how his friend would join him in sneaking comic books home in large library books out of his parents sight. As an elementary school student I also snuck my Spider-Man comics home in library books and was pleased to hear that other kids used this tactic! It was an overall great panel full of funny stories and touching recollections. What a…

Conferences/Meetings/Institutes

Inspired Youth Grant Writing at #alsc14 #oakland

Do you need money for awesome youth programming at your library? Of course you do! As part of my library’s grant writing team (a tag team comprised of myself and the awesome librarian/superhero Katie Holahan) I am always on the lookout for funding opportunities. Nancy Baumann and Lisa McClure presented a great session this afternoon that provided practical, helpful tips on writing successful grants for anyone in need of funding. In addition to a wealth of suggestions for grant opportunities session attendees were also given an overview of McClure’s “inspiration to execution” tactics for grant writing. She suggests following the “6 Cs” when pursuing a funding opportunity. 1. Consider: Think about the funder’s mission compared to your library’s mission. Do they align? Be sure to know your youth trends and research. Consider yourself and what distinguishes you from other applicants. 2. Convince: It is important to demonstrate the need for…

ALA Annual 2014

Children’s Librarians in the Lead #alaac14

As anyone who has ever worked as a children’s librarian or teen librarian knows, youth services librarians are basically superheroes. Many of us do a little bit of everything in the library, even though it is probably not included in our job descriptions. This great panel session featuring three successful ladies who have risen through the ranks from children’s librarians exhibited how we can use the many facets of youth librarianship to become leaders, managers and even directors. The hour long session was absolutely packed with awesome advice but a few points especially stood out to me. Remember that you have to give up stuff. You want to move up to a management position, great! If you are at a larger library, don’t expect to be able to keep doing that storytime program you love or order the juvenile fiction every month. You will have to take on more responsibilities…