Childhood, Graphic Novels, and Magical Creatures

Zoe Nepolello

In honor of the announcement that there’s going to be three books, I have a mighty need to gush about Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto. This YA fantasy debut simply blew me away in its scope. The world is lush and big, the characters jump off the page with relatability, and the phoenixes—they’re fun and beautiful and I need one now. The political atmosphere intrigued me from beginning to end, the magic system was subtle but complex, and there was a twist that I didn’t even come close to guessing—and I (unfortunately) have a knack for guessing endings.

The story is divided into three separate narratives: Veronyka, Tristan, and Sev. Each individual gives you different access and information to how the world works, but they ultimately all give you themes of community and finding your place in this decimated world. I cannot wait to continue with this trilogy and see where each character goes from here.

If you’re a fantasy fanatic, and you dream of having your own magical creature, this is new series is not to be missed.

Kathy Nguyen

Last week I finished Adrian Tomine’s Killing and Dying. It’s a collection of graphic short stories, and this fact alone is what made me pull it off of the shelves of my local library. While I’ve read short story collections and I’ve read graphic novels, I don’t come across the combination of the two genres as much. Obviously, I need to fix that, because I adored this book! Tomine’s art is impeccable, and his stories accomplish so much with so little. My favorite story has to be “Translated, from the Japanese,” when Tomine cuts down on the high panel density that characterizes most of the stories in his collection, opting instead for a style that gives space to the big, pulsing heart of the narrative. 

Giancarlo Riccobon

The movie “Only Yesterday” has surprised me in the best way. A Studio Ghibli film, it was considered “undubbable” and wasn’t released in North America until 25 years after its release. It’s the kind of story that probably could have been told in live-action but gains so much more from the medium of animation.

It follows 27-year-old Taeko on a life-changing visit to the countryside as she starts to re-evaluate what she wants to do with her life. Woven into the narrative are flashbacks of Taeko’s childhood. The anecdotes are charming and relatable, like the day Taeko first tasted pineapple, and the time she spent weeks rehearsing for her school play even though she only had one line.

Perhaps the most compelling part isn’t the past or the present, but where they each bleed into one another. Taeko is still bothered by all these ghosts from her childhood that have shaped who she is today—her shame at never understanding how to “flip the numerator” in fractions, and the guilt of knowing that a kid from her fifth grade class never forgave her for not wanting to sit next to him.

You’ll definitely want to stick around for the ending. It’s deliciously understated, and it’s sprung on you after the credits start rolling.

Eileen Silverthorn

I recently finished watching The Umbrella Academy on Netflix. SO. FREAKING. GOOD. It’s an adaptation from the graphic novel series from Dark Horse Comics, written by Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance fans, let me hear you!) and illustrated by Gabriel Bá. I must say—and I know this might be sacrilege—but I actually prefer the Netflix series. It’s the story of a dysfunctional family of superpowered siblings who have to navigate time travel, love, the apocalypse (casual), and their own trauma and self-doubt. Highly recommend!