Stuff for the Teen Age
Get Ready to Save Apathea in ... AMERICUS!
I followed a link the other day to the First Second Books website, one of my favorite publishers of graphic novels. I'm already a huge fan of Vampire Loves, the Color of Earth trilogy, Robot Dreams, American Born Chinese, Brain Camp, and Anya's Ghost, to name just a few examples.
While I was browsing through the site, I looked through the TBC ("To Be Continued") section, which contains several ongoing graphic novel serials that can be read for free online. While there's a lot of great stuff to read here, I naturally gravitated towards the story that was described as "Librarians: The Crusaders For Literature." That story is called Americus, and while much of the story is available to read (one page at a time) through the Save Apathea website, the Americus book will be released in August, and you can reserve your own copy right now through the Library's Catalog.
So let me tell you a little bit about this story:
Americus is about a teenager named Neil Barton who lives in Oklahoma. When the story begins, we learn that he doesn't fit in with most of the kids in his school for several reasons — he's short, he's shy, and he loves reading books. His favorite books are from the Chronicles of Apathea Ravenchilde fantasy series, and he shares his love of those books with his librarian, Charlotte Murphy, and with his friend, Danny Burns. As Neil and Danny graduate from middle school and move up to high school, they hope that their social situations will improve, but when Danny's mother objects to their favorite fantasy novels because of her strict religious beliefs (she doesn't want Danny being influenced by what she perceives to be witchcraft), things become more difficult for both boys as protestors fighting for and against the library threaten to divide the town.
We watch Neil's character evolve as the story continues. He begins as a shy boy with only one friend, then very gradually comes out of his shell as he interacts with kids in his new school and as the battle over the Apathea books heats up. I can't actually tell you how the story ends yet (the online version isn't over, and the book isn't coming out until next month). But based on what I've read so far, Americus is an exciting graphic novel that will inspire discussions among teen readers, librarians, teachers, and anyone who is interested in the subjects of censorship in general, and banned and challenged books in particular. This will be an interesting read, just in time for Banned Books Week, which will be held this year from September 24 through October 1.