Flamer by Mike Curato

Cover image for Flamer

Flamer by Mike Curato (9781250756145)

Aiden Navarro is fourteen and attending summer camp with his Boy Scout troop. He is leaving his Catholic Middle School and has decided to go to public high school, though he’s starting to dread what that means in terms of the bullying escalating even farther. After all, he doesn’t know how to dress himself since he’s been wearing a uniform to school for years. He also worries about how his sister is coping with his often abusive father now that Aiden is gone to camp. To make it all more complicated, Aiden is also gay and closeted. When he finds himself becoming attracted to one of his friends, Aiden has to decide whether to let him know or not. When things don’t go well, Aiden reaches a dark place that has him questioning how to go on.

Curato has created a graphic novel that really speaks to self discovery and learning how to survive. The setting of the summer camp really creates an atmosphere of freedom mixed with closely living with other boys his age. This can be a mix of exhilarating but also being unable to escape from bullying that targets Aiden’s sexuality. I applaud Curato for incorporating exactly the sorts of dirty jokes that boys in a group make together, all of them teasing about sexuality in a way that is damaging and hurtful.

The art in the book is done in black and white until the flames enter the pages. Those flames can be from bullying, from shame, from attraction, from rage. They all color Aiden’s life and therefore the pages. It’s highly effective, particularly as Aiden makes a decision about suicide.

A compelling look at a gay teen learning about himself and finding his core of fire. Appropriate for ages 12-15.

Reviewed from library copy.

Me and the World: An Infographic Exploration by Mireia Trius

Cover image for Me and the World

Me and the World: An Infographic Exploration by Mireia Trius, illustrated by Joana Casals (9781452178875)

Through a series of eye-catching infographics, this book introduces readers to the world. The infographics focus on personal things like family structure, most popular names, living spaces, and breakfast foods. It also looks more broadly at things like world population, city populations, traffic in cities, schools and homework. There are more light hearted infographics too like most popular dog breeds, summer vacations, sports and birthdays.

This book is worth exploring closely. Each double-page spread offers an infographic with layered information and an intriguing look at what data can show us about ourselves and about our world. The infographics are done in a modern flat style that works well with the numbers that are designed into the images. The images and numbers are carefully selected to be of interest to children and also easily understood by them.

A fascinating glimpse into our world from a variety of points of data. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.