We know you love Smile, and El Deafo. We know you’ve probably read Persepolis already (and if you haven’t, get on that!), and that you might be staring at the graphic novel section, wondering how you’ll possibly find the memoir comics among all the superheroes and anthropomorphized mice. But never fear my intrepid readers! Your friendly librarian is here to assist you!
Here are four recommendations for graphic memoirs.
Prison Island by Colleen Frakes
Colleen grew up on MacNeil Island, the last operating prison island in the United States. Off the coast of Washington, the island is accessible only by land or sea. In this book, she tells the story of a life where pizza deliveries are met at the ferry, pool toys have to be locked up so inmates can’t escape on them, and being an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances.
Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash
In unflinching honesty and beautiful watercolor illustrations, Maggie Thrash tells the story of her fifteen year old self’s first love with an older teen girl at Camp Bellflower in Kentucky, and the support and prejudices she encountered.
Tomboy by Liz Prince
Liz doesn’t do pink, tutus, or other “girl stuff.” She hates the way girls are supposed to act. But she’s not one of the boys either. Follow her journey of discovering where she fits, and if there’s more than one way to be a girl in this memoir.
Dare to Disappoint: Growing up in Turkey by Özge Samanci
Özge’s family expects her to grow up and be an engineer like her sister, but she is drawn to the sea and a more interesting and chaotic life. Set against a backdrop of militaristic, secular, and religious conflict in Turkey, Özge tells her struggle to find a version of herself that everyone can be happy with.
If none of those appeal to you, or if you just want more, all you have to do is go the the catalog, put autobiographical comics into the search box and hit the button that says Subject. Then you’ll see all the graphic memoirs we have!
Laurie P., mother of Mabelle P. ’20 and Eveliena P. ’22, was kind enough to write us an article about the pumpkins you may have noticed in the admin building and the library, and the process of growing and competing with pumpkins!
It is hard to miss the bright orange pumpkin greeting visitors at the Castilleja Library. Weighing approximately 75 pounds, this pumpkin has the Castilleja Five C’s permanently etched in its skin. Eleven-year-old Violet, the younger sister of Eveliena ’22 and Mabelle ’20, grew this pumpkin from seeds she saved from her pumpkin she named “Vivacious” and grew two years ago.
It is the third year that the sisters together scarred the Castilleja 5 Cs on their pumpkins to bring to Castilleja. The pumpkins are scarred in early July, and the scar will harden and grow with the pumpkin until it is ready to be picked.
Pumpkin growing is an important tradition for our family. This October marks the 6th year that the sisters have competed in the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Weigh Off. Together their three entries (“Hamilton”, “Peach,” and “Ghost”) this season weighed over 350 pounds. The family record currently stands at 288 pounds for a single pumpkin. While that is significantly smaller than this year’s 1,900 pound winning pumpkin, we feel like champions just being able to compete each year.
There is nothing like watching the growers from all along the coast bringing in their pumpkins in flat beds and pickup trucks in the early misty morning hours to be weighed the day of the Weigh Off. Most of the giant pumpkins are still being fed with large pails of water or some secret formula right up until they are lifted on the scale.
The Half Moon Bay Weigh-Off was extra special this year as a woman won the contest for the first time in 19 years. The champion, third grader teacher Cindy Tobeck from Washington State, traveled with her pumpkin by pickup to compete in the Half Moon Bay Weigh Off. It was her dream to win this competition. An interview of the Pasmooij sisters as well as Cindy Tobeck by ABC7 News can be found byclicking here.
We will begin preparing for next year’s Weigh Off almost immediately after Halloween by planting a cover crop of mustard. The mustard plants cut and tilled into the soil will help prevent disease for their future pumpkins. In April the sisters will select seeds and plant them in pots. Their seedlings will grow indoors for a couple of weeks and then will be transferred to the soil in May.
By late June pumpkins will be growing on the vines. Much effort and time will be spent trying to protect the flowers, vines and pumpkins from squirrels. In August or September, the pumpkins will have completed most of their growing. The sisters will be off to the Half Moon Bay hopefully again by next early October with three beauties and have additional pumpkins for Castilleja. Mabelle and Eveliena are happy to share seeds with anyone who wants to try growing!
Last year your librarians spent some time choosing new magazines and periodicals for your perusal. We’ve got some excellent ones now, like Lapham’s Quarterly and Creative Nonfiction, and another one I enjoy is The Believer. How can you not enjoy a magazine that explains its contents as “journalism and essays that are frequently very long, book reviews that are not necessarily timely, and interviews that are intimate, frank, and also very long”?
The Believerfeatures regular columns by Nick Hornby, and Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), articles on subjects such as post-Mao fashion in China, HIV prevention in Tijuana, and having afternoon tea with the high priest of the Church of Satan. Among my favorite regular features is the column A Series of Essential Advice, which most recently featured “How to Field Dress a Deer” and “How to Send Things to Germany.”
So if you are in the mood for some fascinating in-depth interviews or book reviews, or simply have a package that needs to go to Germany, come check out The Believer!
Stephanie Kuehn, author of Charm and Strange, Complicit and other books beloved by Casti students, visited last week during Banned Books Week. Elle G. and Supriya L. wrote a recap of her visit.
Stephanie Kuehn is a young adult author who visited Castilleja on September 26, 2016 for Banned Books Week. Some of her books have been challenged, and she talked to the eighth graders about her views on censorship. Ms. Kuehn believes that many young adult authors’ intentions are misunderstood, often being blamed by adults and parents as being “too dark” when these authors are just being honest. She thinks that YA authors should be able to express their ideas about dark subjects without feeling the need to sugarcoat, and therefore shield shield the message from readers.
She talked about the ways that YA authors give stories the positive overlay that some adults feel that they need. One of the main ways that they do this is by incorporating hope. She said that stories with hope either have a character finding their voice or their identity, the character’s life has meaning, or it shows that the characters can be themselves (or learn to be themselves). However, the main point that she stresses about these themes is, is it true? Do we really live in this idealistic world? Of course not! So why should we tell our YA readers that we do? After all, aren’t most of them going to be looking after themselves in the real world soon enough? Now this begs the question, why should we hide this from them? Well, Ms. Kuehn said that it sometimes has to do with control. She said that if you’re a parent and are used to regulating what your children read, it may be hard to let them read about dark ideas, such as suicide, and violence, unless there is a way “back up” from the dark place. Nonetheless, readers should be able to understand their own development, and choose books which correspond to this development.
In conclusion, Ms. Kuehn’s visit enlightened us about Banned Books Week, and told us a lot about herself as well. She grew up in the Bay Area, and went to boarding school in the East Coast, which partly inspired the setting of her first book, Charm and Strange. In addition, she started writing at a young age, particularly being influenced by her father, who was a writer, journalist, as well as editor. We are so glad that Ms. Kuehn came here to talk about censorship during Banned Books Week, and be sure to check out all of her books, especially her new book, The Smaller Evil, in celebration of Banned Books Week!