Thu and Katie Talk Graphic Novels

It's no secret that we love graphic novels at Brazos. Thu and Katie have chosen a few favorites, so take a look below. Whether they display a timely political struggle or the everlasting communal struggle of just growing up and being yourself, these books combine fantastic illustration work with interesting plot and beautiful text. What more could you want?


All Summer Long (Eagle Rock Series) Cover Image
By Hope Larson, Hope Larson (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780374304850
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - May 1st, 2018

I was totally struck by Hope Larson's All Summer Long after I picked it up as a quick time-passing read. It's about two inseparable best friends entering that weird and now, totally foreign, stage of pre-teen/teen adolescence. It's the first summer that Bina and her best friend Austin are spending their summer apart and Austin is throwing some real shade. Maybe he think he's hot shit now? Puberty? Trifling? Who knows. But that doesn't make Bina feel less confused or awkward. Overall, it's a wonderful story about friendship, identity, and growing up.

Spinning Cover Image
By Tillie Walden, Tillie Walden (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781626729407
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: First Second - September 12th, 2017

I had the honor to accompany the talented, effervescent, and wise Tillie Walden last year at local area high schools for her graphic memoir, Spinning. Hearing her speak to a younger audience about her experience of moving to Texas, the world of competitive figure skating, and growing into her queer identity, along with seeing her beautiful art, made me so hopeful. It also made me wonder what I could do to reach out and be a more understanding human. Spinning is a deep and powerful reflection of all these things, and the tone reminds me of contemporary Japanese writing that is constantly searching in a sea of subtleness. Another thing to add, we will be hosting Tillie Walden on 10/3 for her upcoming graphic novel On a Sunbeam!

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir Cover Image
By Thi Bui
ISBN: 9781419718786
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Abrams ComicArts - April 17th, 2018

As a child and younger sibling to Vietnamese refugees, my parents escaped with two children by foot through the jungles in Laos, spent time in a refugee camp, and were sponsored all together by, as my mom says, "the most wonderful and generous woman" here in Houston who taught her how to sew, open a shop, and even co-signed their first home. My parents have never gone into any detail about their journey besides a few stories here and there, so I've always searched for writing that might help me piece together and give me a better understanding about how their lives were shaped. The Best We Could Do is a beautiful and intense portrayal about her family's journey, and while I have a personal interest, I think it portrays many terrifying and discomforting things about the refugee/immigrant experience and what happens to our humanity. And what is terrifying isn't necessarily the story, but that it's true and happening to others presently.

Sanpaku Cover Image
ISBN: 9781684152100
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Archaia - August 21st, 2018

Native Houstonian and cartoonist Kate Gavino's forthcoming (publishing date 7/21) graphic novel Sanpaku is one that I am extremely excited about. Sanpaku is a coming-of-age story about a Filipino-American girl that is growing up in Houston. First of all, if it's set in Houston, I'll give it a shot. This is the Houston I grew up in with Asian markets, a blinding devotion to Selena, and many contradictions. Overall, this is a smart, charming, and heartwarming story and, like a baby seeing everything for the first time, the main character of this story Marcine, rationalizes new emotions and feelings for the first time, and that's all a part of growing up. We are hosting Kate Gavino on 8/25 for Sanpaku so please come out for this special event!


Blankets Cover Image
ISBN: 9781770462182
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Drawn and Quarterly - October 13th, 2015

A perfect introduction to the genre of Graphic Novels. Blankets is a biography of the artist as a teenager growing up in a religious home in Wisconsin and his first love. The setting of a chilly dead winter creates an opposing backdrop for young blossoming love, coming-of-age, and the joys (and pains) of life and growing up. A deep and often times hilarious graphic novel with some of the most enchanting illustrations.

Frida Kahlo: The Story of Her Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9783791383880
Availability: Backordered
Published: Prestel - November 7th, 2017

My favorite artist! The famous Mexican Artist Frida Kahlo’s life is told in beautiful full color illustrations. Via a conversation between Frida and Death through the re-telling of her life, we get insight into not only Frida’s artwork, but also her personal life and the pain that lead her to become one of the most famous artists of all time. There are glimpses into her tumultuous marriage to the artist Diego Rivera, as well as her bisexuality, which is overlooked in most biographies. You will go back just to look at this gorgeous novel’s illustrations!

Staff Pick Badge
This One Summer Cover Image
By Jillian Tamaki (Illustrator), Mariko Tamaki
ISBN: 9781596437746
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: First Second - May 6th, 2014

A perfect summer read! We follow Rose and her friend Windy, two girls spending a typical summer swimming, playing games and going to the movies. While Rose is trying to hold onto the child she still is, she is forced to begin dealing with adult issues and enter into her teenage years. A beautiful and often times heart-wrenching story of two friends’ final summer as young girls.

A City Inside Cover Image
ISBN: 9781910395202
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Avery Hill Publishing - May 7th, 2016

Don’t let the small number of pages fool you, this is one of the most beautifully illustrated graphic novels from Tillie Walden, a graphic novelist barely in her twenties with an impressive body of work. It’s a story that shifts between the surreal and the everyday as a woman looks back on her childhood and growing up, ultimately about discovering who we are and want to be in life while not having just one coming-of-age, but multiple in a lifetime. A beautiful reminder that who we are in this moment does not define who we can become.

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