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Block, Francesca Lia. Weetzie Bat, The Weetzie Bat Books Dangerous Angels. Harper Collins, 1989. 478 p. $9.99 ISBN 978-0-06-200740-7.
Weetzie feels like a misunderstood teenager, until she meets Dirk. Falling instantly in love, she is shocked to find out Dirk is gay. This does not change their friendship status. They spend days on end hanging out in Los Angeles, California, partying and looking for love until Dirk’s grandmother gives Weetzie a magic lamp. The genie inside the lamp offers Weetzie three wishes. Her wishes come true, but not in the way she expected.
The first book of the Dangerous Angels series is a fast-paced, 70 page read, and is written as a modern fairy tale with all the traditional components of famous folklore. Block’s writing style is simple yet captivating. She effectively intertwines magic with reality and by using modern Los Angeles as this magical kingdom with people both good and evil, making Weetzie Bat a classic postmodern fairy tale. Block’s characters encounter magic lamps, witches, and explore the realties of happily-ever-after. This modern spin will definitely be appealing for teens, as it takes them on a journey through familiar teenage strife, (including the topics of drinking, drugs, abortion and AIDS) and Disney archetypes. Weetzie Bat is whimsical and intriguing, and those who like the first book should read all 5 books in Francesca Lia Block’s Dangerous Angels series. This book is definitely a pleasure to read, but it also would be a useful teaching tool in the classroom for a high school fractured fairytales unit.
Vaughan, Brian K. Paper Girls. illus. by Cliff Chiang, Jared K. Fletcher, & Matthew Wilson. 144p. Image Comics. Apr. 2016. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781632156747.
Gr 9 Up- Set in the 1980’s, Paper Girls follows KJ, Erin, Tiffany and MacKenzie on the morning paper route from hell, as throughout this graphic novel the girls experience a series of strange encounters, including creepy men speaking an unknown language, alien spaceships, and pterodactyls. The girls must over come their fears and use their individual skills to defeat the intergalactic invasion of their hometown of Stony Stream.
This beautifully illustrated graphic novel captures the essence of the 1980’s by using bright purples, pinks and blues as the main color palette. Illustrations and detail choices are all era appropriate, though readers should be warned about some grotesque violence. The panels are laid out in a comprehendible manner, and the story is fast paced and captivating. Vaughan does away with gender norms, as all four tween girls are strong female role models who care less about boys than making money and saving the world. Paper Girls is for teens both male and female, and also for either those new to the graphic novel world or genre stalwarts. It is recommended for those who enjoy science fiction, although it could act as a great gateway book into the science fiction-graphic novel genre.
VERDICT: This fun graphic novel is a great read with strong female characters and amazing sci-fi and 1980’s illustrations. -Lisa Bova
The professional reviews consulted consisted of SLJ, Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. All three reviews were written fairly shortly after the publication of Paper Girls in 2016. The only review with an age recommendation was SLJ. The Publisher’s Weekly and SLJ reviews were around 200-300 words where the Kirkus review ran a bit longer. All reviews commented on setting, writing style and illustrations. SLJ and Kirkus warned about strong language. Cover art, was not mentioned but when it comes to graphic novels it is most important that the illustrations are the main focus. All three reviews commented on the unique appeal of the 1980’s and spoke about the immense amount of action. Compared to the alternative reviews, the professional one’s were rather short. The alternative reviews were from Slate and Talking Comic Books. Both reviews were quiet lengthy and delved further into mentioning Vaughn’s previous success, Saga. Both reviews had a ton of praise and were less critical. They highlighted not only Vaughan but the illustrators as well (especially Talking Comic Books). I appreciated reading a comic book review from a comic book review site. These reviews were more interesting to read, as they gave more detailed information about the book and its inspirations. Slate delved into the importance of the feminists characters and the appeal of the 1980’s. Overall, the professional reviews did a great job at giving a quick overview and opinion, while the alternative reviews were more detailed and gave more background information.