Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Missouri Boy

Missouri Boy is a book that brings up the big debate over why these books are called graphic novels in the first place. More a graphic poem than a graphic novel, it captures a number of moments from a 1960s American childhood: the sounds, sights, and smells of shooting off fireworks on the 4th of July, the feel of getting buried in fall leaves, and the sensations and silliness that come along with first crushes. The vignettes here are snapshots from a life, arranged chronologically, but they contribute to a larger picture of growing up, learning to deal with difficult situations and unkind friends, and setting off on one's own.

The author/writer is Leland Myrick, an accomplished illustrator who was nominated for the Ignatz Award and Harvey Award for Promising New Talent. His work has been published in many places, and he received a 2004 Xeric Grant to complete his book Bright Elegy.

Missouri Boy has received good reviews, but as we look at a sampling from sources such as Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist , there is also a reservation. These reviews all point to the great artfulness, poetry, and emotional timbre of the book, but they also note how it may be more well received by adults looking back on their own childhoods rather than younger readers.

A preview is available here from the book's publisher First Second.

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