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CYBILS Reviews 2021: Young Adult Graphic Novel Finalists and Winner

This is my second and final CYBILS post. Here are the reviews for the CYBILS finalists for the category of Young Adult graphic novels.

Check out the locations of these books on my 2022 Google Calendar.

Across the Tracks: Remembering Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Race Massacre by Alverne Ball (location: USA: Oklahoma)

4 stars. This is such an important story to tell and it is done well. The book has great illustrations and good descriptions of the founding of Greenwood and Black Wall Street. However, I found it a very surface treatment of the story. The non-graphic essays at the end of the book tell the more complete story using anti-racist language and ideas that I would have liked to see this incorporated into the graphic novel. 

Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier (location: unknown) WINNER

4.5 to 5 stars. I had no idea the depth of this book when I first started reading it. I thought it was going to be about cheerleading and friendship, but it deals with so much more: acceptance, what it's like to be trans, how to support friends who are transitioning, and what it means to "fit in." I thought it was all incorporated well into a good story and the illustrations were fun.

The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag (location: Canada)

4 to 4.5 stars. This book didn't really click for me until the second half, but then I really enjoyed it. I like the way the author supports and appreciates the LGBTQIA community, is accurate in her description of teenage friendships, and that she included environmental issues in this book. I also liked learning about the selkie myths. The last time I judged for CYBILS graphic novels, her book Witch Boy was one of the finalists (did it win?).

In the Shadow of the Fallen Towers: The Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Days, Weeks, Months, and Years after the 9/11 Attacks by Don Brown (location: New York)

4 stars. The subtitle of this one threw me off since the first half is about the day of 9/11. I have read quite a bit about 9/11, but learned even more from this book, which I like. However, I feel like it tried to cram too much into a thin book. I liked the illustrations and the information that it covered.

My Body in Pieces by Marie-Noëlle Hébert (location: Canada)

4.5 to 5 stars. This book deals with fat shaming and the trauma that friends, family, and strangers can inflict on those who are overweight. I liked the illustration style of the author creating black and white drawings from home videos and photographs. The emotions this book invokes are raw and real, the author did a wonderful job of getting at her own needs and trauma, which will help others to identify with her. 

My Last Summer with Cass by Mark Crilley (location: New York, Michigan)

4.5 stars. I really enjoyed this story of friendship, betrayal, and growing up. The illustrations were effective and helped tell the story of these two young artists who are trying to find their way in the world through art, family, friends, and self-expression.

Nubia: Real One by L.L. McKinney (location: New York)

4.5 to 5 stars. I loved this one! The illustrations are awesome and the story is great. I love the combination of super hero and regular girl mixed in with domestic violence, racism, peaceful protest, and the overall message of standing up for what is right even when it is uncomfortable.

Challenges for which these books count:

  • Alphabet Soup (title)--A, G, I, M, N
  • Alphabet Soup (author)--B, C, M
  • Literary Escapes--New York, Michigan
  • Popsugar--non patriarchal society, misleading title, man-made disaster


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