A monthly update from our Teen Advisory Board

This month we had a visit from Lisa Riley, children’s publisher at Penguin Random House. Lisa is a very passionate bookworm who works on a diverse array of books, from board books for the youngest babies through to fiction and non-fiction for young adults, like our Teen Advisory Board members. She told our members all about the variety of her job: from checking the finest details of a manuscript, to the big picture ideas, to helping a book and its author along the journey to publication. ‘Creating a book is a really lovely thing,’ she said.

Lisa also talked about Penguin’s 2018 YA novel Stone Girl, a beloved book with both Readings staff and the teens, who had previously raved about it in their reviews here.

Lisa described her absolute love for Eleni Hale’s debut from the moment she first read it back in June 2015. She also described the long journey it took to publication and the many people and skills that were needed along the way. Lisa showed us several cover treatments produced by the graphic designer, Marina Messiha (pictured below), and explained the reasoning behind rejecting particular covers and why they went with the final cover.

TAB_March19_StoneGirlcovers The teens also gave Lisa their wish list of what they would like to see more of in YA, including books for older YA readers that tackle difficult themes, as well as more experimental fiction and complex world building in fantasy for YA readers.

This month, we also asked the teens what they thought about an increasingly popular format for younger readers: graphic novels and comics. Our members' opinions varied, with some identifying as fans, while others admitted they read them more when they were younger. A selection of their comments is available below.

Have you read many graphic novels or comics? If so, what do you like about them?

tabcoraline Marley: I love them! I love seeing the artwork as it adds an extra level of interest. I also like that they’re quick and easy. Junior graphic novels are how I first learnt to read.

Xiao-Xiao: I’ve read a few. As a kid, they kind of bridged this gap between TV and books. Now I find they’re a good break from reading a lot of wordy and heavy books. They’re fun and they feel like a book of art.

Zach: I haven’t read too extensively, simply because there are so many and such a vast variety that it’s hard to know where to start when you’re new to the format.

Jess: I’ve read a few and enjoyed the artwork, but I don’t read many of them as they don’t have as many words as I like.

Luci: No i haven’t, but I would like to. I think the storytelling in graphic novels is very unique, and in some ways more difficult than ‘regular’ traditional novels and short stories.

Grace: I’ve never been a big reader of graphic novels. The most recent one I read was Coraline in year seven. It had amazing illustrations, but I did find it hard to follow the text.

What are some graphic novels you’d recommend for older teen readers (and adults)?

tabpapergirls Ngaire: The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, which details the odd adventures of a dysfunctional family of superheroes as they try to stop the apocalypse. It’s also a fabulous TV show!

Lil: I read The Odyssey as a graphic novel which was great because it helped to condense a longer text.

Marley: The Harley Quinn series by Amanda Conner is great! I also like Paper Girls and Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, although the latter is definitely not for kids!

Uly: The Preacher comics by Garth Ennis is an amazing series with great characters and a horrifying and twisty plot. I also enjoyed Locke & Key by Joe Hill, a Lovecraftian horror comic series with an engrossing story.

Zach: For slightly older readers, Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. It’s a gritty dark fantasy horror series.

Ngaire: For history fans, Maus by Art Spiegelman.

And what teen graphic novels would you recommend?

tabspinning Ngaire: New Zealand digital artist Rachel Smythe’s Lore Olympus, which is a web-comic about the myth of Hades and Persephone set in a modern-day Olympus. It’s suitable for both adults and teens.

Zach: For younger audiences, definitely the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi, and for fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, there are a few graphic novels set after the two series, which extends their stories.

Laura: I would recommend Spinning by Tillie Walden.

Jess: The Percy Jackson graphic novel series by Rick Riordan.

Xiao-Xiao: The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi, and Drama by Raina Telgemeier.

What book or types of stories do you think would make a good graphic novel?

tabcarryon Luci: Maybe a compilation of Greek myths. I think that would be quite beautiful and you would have room for artistic interpretation. Short stories would also be intriguing, like What we Talk about When We Talk about Love by Raymond Carver. Contemporary YA novels would also make entertaining comics because of their strong dialogue: Words in Deep Blue, Why We Broke Up, and I’ll Give You the Sun are three that come to mind.

Ngaire: The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness because it would be interesting to see Noise and the world it’s set in!

Xiao-Xiao: Books centred on foreign cultures or set in different places, countries or environments. It can be hard sometimes to visualise certain information when it’s just presented in text.

Marley: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.

Zach: I think the Strange the Dreamer duology by Laini Taylor would make a visually stunning series.

Jess: Fantasy novels would translate to the graphic novel/comic format nicely, I think. For example, the Violet Eden series by Jessica Shirvington



Stone Girl

Stone Girl

Eleni Hale

$19.99Buy now

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