Category Archives: Reviews

Skim by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki

Winner of the 2008 Ignatz Award for Best Graphic Novel, and appearing on the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book List, Skim is being published by Walker Books in the UK.

Skim The story, told in the form of a diary and comic strip is seen from the perspective of Kimberly Keiko “Skim” Cameron, an aspiring Wiccan and goth who is coping with a broken arm and separated parents when the suicide of (a possibly gay) ex boyfriend of a classmate throws hers and everyones’ lives into turmoil.

Having to deal with a guidance counselor who is concerned about her state of mind (goths being prone to self-harm and suicide) and the antagonism of the girls in the Celebrate Life club; she also has to cope with the growing realisation that she is falling in love with her Englsih teacher Mrs Archer and the fact that her Wiccan circle also serves as a branch of the local AA.

Skim is a brilliantly told and illustrated coming of age tale that will appeal to young readers and adults alike. This book deals with a number of themes that are relevant to teenagers (including suicide, parental separation, youthful alienation, the journey to finding oneself, love and many others) the story is told in a way that is hilarious and heart-breaking in equal measure. Skim is a likable (if sarcastic) protagonist who draws you in and makes you feel what she is feeling and at the end leaves you wanting to know what happens next.

It has been described by Paul Gravett as one of the best comics of 2008 and is truly deserving of that accolade!

Skim is due out in May and is highly recommended for all Graphic Novel collections!

Mad Dog Moonlight by Pauline Fisk

This story revolves around a young boy who has been found wandering the Welsh countryside, with only his baby brother and his ffon, a walking stick with a mysterious carving on the top, in his arms. He has no memory of where he has come from except for the name that his parents have given him – Mad Dog Moonlight.
Despite being fostered into a loving home (and renamed Ryan Lewis), Mad Dog finds it hard to adjust to his new ‘normal’ lifestyle. As time goes by he comes to realise that he is not the same as other children as the magic of nature surrounds him and follows him wherever he goes. Soon, both the open road and the persistent call of the mysterious and sometimes sinister Plynlimon Mountain, leads Mad Dog on a wild journey into the secrets of his past, which finally provides him with the answer to his biggest question of all….who he really is.
There was something rather familiar about this book and storyline- although I couldn’t quite pin it down. At first I found the plot rather slow but this sped up in the second half of the book which I found much more exciting and purposeful. This obviously is a shame as it might put off readers who aren’t willing to persist through the first half. The concept of the book was quite unusual in terms of the blend of fantasy into reality and ‘everyday life.’ I also liked the fact that Fisk incorporated myth and Celtic history and culture intensely into the plot, however, I felt a little confused about her focus.
Whilst obviously a theme of the story was about self-discovery and maturation, the magical aspect of the story grated a little with the more well-developed aspects of the text such as daily life in the school-place, the experience of a foster-family and even the landscape and weather of Wales! Personally, I think that if this aspect of the story was given more depth or put into a clearer context in relation to the characters then it would make for a more comfortable read. Nevertheless, I did enjoy this book very much and found Fisk’s description of the Welsh landscape particularly beautiful, therefore if I were to rate this book I would still give it a solid 7 out of 10.

Reviewer: JP