Hell and High Water

Caleb has spent his life roaming southern England with his Pa, little to their names but his father’s signet ring and a puppet theater for popular, raunchy Punch and Judy shows — until the day Pa is convicted of a theft he didn’t commit and sentenced to transportation to the colonies in America. From prison, Caleb’s father sends him to the coast to find an aunt Caleb never knew he had. His aunt welcomes him into her home, but her neighbors see only Caleb’s dark skin. Still, Caleb slowly falls into a strange rhythm in his new life . . . until one morning he finds a body washed up on the shore. The face is unrecognizable after its time at sea, but the signet ring is unmistakable: it can only be Caleb’s father. Mystery piles on mystery as both church and state deny what Caleb knows.

Boys without Names

For eleven-year-old Gopal and his family, life in their rural Indian village is over: We stay, we starve, his baba has warned. With the darkness of night as cover, they flee to the big city of Mumbai in hopes of finding work and a brighter future. Gopal is eager to help support his struggling family until school starts, so when a stranger approaches him with the promise of a factory job, he jumps at the offer. But Gopal has been deceived. There is no factory, just a small, stuffy sweatshop where he and five other boys are forced to make beaded frames for no money and little food. The boys are forbidden to talk or even to call one another by their real names. In this atmosphere of distrust and isolation, locked in a rundown building in an unknown part of the city, Gopal despairs of ever seeing his family again. But late one night, when Gopal decides to share kahanis, or stories, he realizes that storytelling might be the boys’ key to holding on to their sense of self and their hope for any kind of future. If he can make them feel more like brothers than enemies, their lives will be more bearable in the shop—and they might even find a way to escape.

Child Convicts

At the age of seven, children in eighteenth-century Britain were tried in court like adults. For crimes such as picking pockets or stealing clothes, they could be sentenced to death by hanging or transported to the then-perilous and isolated colonies of Australia. Life in the colonies was often as difficult and dangerous as the poverty from which many of the convicts came, but the dreaded sentence of transportation could also present opportunities.

No Small Thing

Full of heart and humor, this coming-of-age tale is no small thing — the tale of a boy’s search for love and identity in the face of longing, abandonment, and uncertainty. When twelve-year-old Nathaniel and his two sisters discover an ad in the paper for a free pony, they can hardly believe their luck. But what will their mother say? Mom’s been having a hard time ever since Dad walked out on them four years ago. But caring for a pony might keep Nat and his older sister, Cid, from bickering, and it would mean so much to eight-year-old Queenie. It takes some serious persuasion — and a promise to use Nat’s paper route money for the pony’s keep — but Mom finally relents. And so begins a year of self-discovery, as Nat struggles to deal with his father’s absence; look out for his younger sister, who is “different”; and recover from having his heart broken by a rich, pretty girl from school. Life is not always easy, but Nat knows that Smokey, his very own pony, will be waiting for him at the end of each day. Or will he?

The Castaways

The first graphic novel by the best-selling team of “Bluesman.” An emotionally powerful tale, drawn from the fabric of America itself, that follows the adventures of young Tucker Freeman as he is compelled to hop a train to escape from the crippling poverty of his rural existence. Armed with only fifteen cents and his occasional hobo father’s counsel, Tucker must find his place in this broken America of the Great Depression before the realities of being young, poor and homeless consume him. This new NBM/ComicsLit edition features a six-page conclusion/epilogue not feautred in the original release as well as a new two-color look, and will stand as THE defininitive edition of a book nominated for an Eisner is the Best Single Issue/One Shot category in 2002. An epic adventure recalling the works of Mark Twain, Jack London, and John Steinbeck.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume VII, Issue 4

Francisco’s Kites

Francisco misses his village in El Salvador, and especially flying a kite with his friends, but Mamá cannot afford to buy a kite so he gathers discarded materials around his apartment building and makes his own, which catches the eye of a store owner and leads to a wonderful project.