Diversiverse2014Of course I made a reading list.

Then, I saw Vasilly’s list. (You probably already know where this is heading.)

Her list has many temptations on it, including some of my favourites.

But I have been looking for a reason to read the rest of Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series since I read the first volume as part of the spring 2012 Dewey’s Read-A-Thon.

And when I was pulling them from the shelves, I realized that the shelves of kidlit and YA at home are not very diverse. On the outside, these shelves are the most colourful in the house; on the inside, the main characters and authors’ jacket photos are whitewhitewhite.

Which got me thinking that I should read more Diversiverse books for younger readers. In general, yes, but for this event in particular.

Wandering Son(I guess I’ve done so before, because I read and loved Hiromi Goto’s Darkest Light for the first Diversiverse – it’s the sequel to her Half World  but I didn’t think of them as books for teens.)

So, after all that, I ended up with a different list.

(You knew that was coming, right?)

Shimura Takako’s Wandering Son (Fantagraphics, 2011) “You should have been born a girl.” Nitori Shuichi felt this the first time that he put on a dress, but hearing it expressed in another’s voice adds to his conviction. Soon this fifth grade student realizes just how vitally important it is to have supportive friends who recognize and accept this truth as well. Shimura Takako’s Bud Not Buddystyle is gentle and the drawings are primarily focussed on faces and bodies with a few scenic panels to set the stage at school or home, which suits a tale devoted to inner questioning and truthtelling.

The narrator of Christopher Paul Curtis’ Bud, Not Buddy (1999) is one year older than Kenny in the author’s The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, but Bud is every bit as entertaining and savvy. Some of my favourite parts of the novel are the excerpts from Bud’s Rules and Things lists, like number 83: “If a Adult Tells You Not to Worry, and You Weren’t Worried Before, You Better Hurry Up and Start ‘Cause You’re Already Running Late”. Not just entertaining, mind you. Readers learn about the foster care system, the Great Depression, Hooverville (the cardboard jungle or shantytown on the fringes of Flint, Michigan) and meet Deza Malone (who will feature in a later novel called The Mighty Miss Malone).

Kazu Kibuishi’s The Stonekeeper  (2008) introduces readers to two near-orphans (they make the best heroines, don’t they?), Emily and Navin. This sister and younger brother soon find themselves in unfamiliar territory, emphasizing that family bonds are the only securities in life. Their circle of supporters soon widens, however, and a web of allies (some appearing from unlikely directions) broadens the cast and the story’s complexity. The art straddles the line between cutesy and striking, and Emily shows tremendous courage in the face of her fear. The question of the ways in which we trust/distrust our inner voice(s) will clearly take on a more dramatic importance as the series unfolds. And, yet, the book is surprisingly satisfying on its own, which a particularly great ending, which embodies the volume’s uncertainty without sacrificing a sense of promise.Stonekeepers Curse

Kazu Kibuishi’s The Stonekeeper’s Curse (2009) ends on a cliff-hanger, but readers who have come to the series late will have outsmarted the creators and gathered the remaining volumes. There is less of a sense of tangible discovery in this second volume, as friendships intensify and alliances are secured, and the plot contains even more action than the introductory volume. There is a great rooftop scene and there are few phrases as exciting for fantasy readers to hear as “pilot the house” (unless it is “port town”, which should conjure up images of the canteen in “Star Wars”). Even so, the emphasis remains on characters and relationships. “Not everybody wants to be a hero,” says one. And the reply? “But they should.” Whether or not readers agree with that pronouncement, Emily’s reluctant heroism is the stuff of good fiction.

What have you been reading that would fit into a Diversiverse reading list?

Have you read any of these? Are there others that you think I should add to yet another list?