WHITE RAPIDS, MOOMIN 2 and SHORTCOMINGS reviewed by The School Library Journal

“School Library Journal Review - White Rapids, Moomin 2, and Shortcomings” / School Library Journal / School Library Journal Staff / December 21, 2007

BLANCHET, Pascal. White Rapids. illus. by author.

Gr 10 Up–In a tour de force exhibiting both style and substance, a graphic artist recounts the creation, populating, daily life, and eventual planned destruction of a Canadian town. White Rapids came into being as part of a private power company’s need for manpower at a site rich with potential hydroelectricity. Fifty years later, after the boom years immediately following World War II, that power source was no longer needed by the now-state-owned company. Blanchet’s retro artwork depicts not only the town’s emergence and eventual abandonment, but also the power of capitalism to create a social organism and then destroy it. The book includes facts and figures as well as views of daily life on the river during construction, habitation, recreation, and final human departure; a discography suggests auditory complements to the images for a truly dynamic realization. An excellent resource for social science research as well as inspiring to nascent artists and graphic novelists.–Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA

JANSSON, Tove. Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip. Bk. 2. illus. by author. 88p. Drawn & Quarterly. 2007. Tr $19.95. ISBN 978-1-897299-19-7. LC number unavailable.
Gr 10 Up–A collection of comic strips that Jansson wrote during the 1950s for adults, based on the characters from her children’s books. In this volume, the cute hippolike Moomins stay in their Scandinavian home and let the follies of the world–a self-glorifying athlete, snobbish new neighbors, or competing prophets–come to them. But folly can also be home-grown, as Moominpapa one winter decides that his family will eat pine needles and sleep on a pile of hay, because that is how their ancestors lived. Whatever the challenge, though, good sense always triumphs and all ends well. Jansson’s gentle skewering of human foibles is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago. Teens will readily identify modern-day incarnations of Jansson’s characters and appreciate her message that the path to happiness lies in being true to who you are and trusting in the support of caring friends and family. The whimsical black-and-white artwork conveys both the characters’ emotions and the informality of life in Moominvalley.–Sandy Schmitz, Berkeley Public Library, CA

TOMINE, Adrian. Shortcomings. illus. by author. 112p. Drawn & Quarterly. 2007. Tr $19.95. ISBN 978-1-897299-16-6. LC number unavailable.
Gr 10 Up–Ben Tanaka is a Japanese American in his late 20s, living in Berkeley and working in a movie theater. His confusion and frustration with his girlfriend, Miko, are compounded when she moves to New York for a four-month internship at a film institute, leaving him to have some “time off” from their relationship. The women in his life now include his best friend, Alice, a Korean lesbian; a beautiful, white bisexual who chooses her ex-girlfriend over him; and a performance artist who delights in photographing her own urine and having sexually explicit musical stage shows, but finds kissing icky because of germs. When Ben goes to New York with Alice, he finds that Miko has hooked up with a photographer and isn’t in the city for an internship at all. Tomine uses an understated drawing style that is simple yet effective, and fits well with characters who are intelligent, reflective, and honest. In addition to tackling modern relationships and racial politics, pop culture, art, and cinema are also discussed. Ben acts as an Everyman, standing in for all Americans of mixed ethnicity and the confusion that often surrounds a person divided between two worlds. The wordless final frames speak volumes for his quiet contemplation, and many readers will identify with his struggle.–Jennifer Waters, Red Deer Public Library, Alberta, Canada

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