A new post featuring two new reviews! Courtesy of the kind folks at Raincoast Books, I have had the pleasure of reading Kat Leyh’s standout young adult graphic novel Snapdragon, as well as Lucy Knisley’s wonderful cartoon collection Go to Sleep (I Miss You). Please read on for my thoughts!
A notable YA fantasy graphic novel with a tremendous amount of heart, surprise, and depth, Kat Leyh‘s Snapdragon has been on the receiving end of some stellar reviews. Opening on a dog rescue mission featuring the titular character Snapdragon (also known as Snap), readers are fast taken into a dynamic and eerie world rich with family history and maybe-magic. Middle schooler Snap- animal-lover, caring, curious, and outspoken- finds herself in the company of an older lady (and a supposed witch!) named Jacks, after needing Jacks’ urgent help to save orphaned newborn possums. While in Jacks’ company, Snap not only learns to care for the baby animals, but also takes a interest in helping Jacks with selling the cleaned and complete skeletons of found roadkill. Jacks and Snapdragon form a bond tethered by seeds of respect, which slowly grows when Snap learns about Jacks’ incredibly-lived life, her heartaches, her ties to Snap’s own family history, and yes- the fact that Jacks’ just might, in fact, be a real witch with real powers. Woven within the beautifully detailed and multi-layered story are elements involving Snap’s new and quick-to-grow friendship with schoolmate Lu, as well as Snap’s steady anchor of a relationship with her mom. There are numerous components at play in Snapdragon, and Leyh teases everything out and back together rather gorgeously leading to an ending that readers will likely cheer about. An affecting story, compelling from opening to end, Snapdragon is unusual, wondrous, and feels altogether rooted in and by love. Readers who have enjoyed graphic novels from creators such as Molly Ostertag, Tillie Walden, Jen Wang, or Katie O’Neill, might especially devour and love Snapdragon.
Go to Sleep (I Miss You): Cartoons from the Fog of New Parenthood is the latest from award-winning graphic novel memoirist Lucy Knisley. After having read the excellent Something New and Kid Gloves back-to-back last year, I could not wait to read and see the latest from Knisley. This collection of cartoons from Knisley features the comic artist’s brand of unvarnished honesty and humour readers have come to know and adore from previous works; this time, however, the subject sharing focus with Lucy is her baby boy (who goes by Pal in the cartoons). If you’ve ever read Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott’s early Baby Blues comic strips collections, or Teresa Wong’s Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression, Go to Sleep (I Miss You) manages to brilliantly walk in and out and among the two: with the humour, sweetness, and the giggles of the former, and with the exploration of the deeply complex corners of motherhood of the latter. From the miracle of only-once-during-the-night wakes, to the intense highs and lows of breastfeeding, from adorable “noisy little milk breaths”, to Knisley’s ingenious inventions for babies, and the pure joy of baby laughs, Go to Sleep (I Miss You) is a real dive into everything new for parents. The contradictions inherent in parenting, the guilt that Knisley feels as a working mom, the unreal throw ups, the unending cycle of pacifier spitting, the milestone of molars, rolling over, and traveling with baby- those are also all there in the pages. There are of course numerous books and cartoons about new parenthood and new motherhood out there- and I’ve read my fair share of them!- so it is worth noting that in Knisley’s hand- with her inimitable artistic style, presentation and voice- her adventures and discoveries with little Pal read as contemporary and comforting (and very funny). Readers already familiar with Knisley’s work, and perhaps those who were riveted by Kid Gloves might be especially interested in reading Go to Sleep (I Miss You); likewise, those new to Lucy Knisley’s work and are looking for thoughtful, raw, and genuinely funny book about new and early parenthood might also find much to enjoy and love here.
Happy reading to you all (and please stay home and safe this long weekend!)
I received copies of these titles courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.