Rhody Reads: 6 Graphic Novels

Illustrated books for all ages by local authors and artists

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With so many talented artists in Rhode Island, it’s no wonder that there are visual delights to accompany every literary taste. For this month’s Rhody Reads, we’ve selected six books by local authors that are as entertaining to peruse as they are to read. Seek these compelling stories with stunning pictures and choose one (or more) the next time you shop at your neighborhood bookstore.

Follow the life of noted nephrologist Joseph A. Chazan, MD in the biographical graphic novel, Chazan! Unfiltered. Written by award-winning playwright Lenny Schwartz and illustrated by BIG NAZO Lab creator Erminio Pinque, the story focuses on Dr. Chazan’s two real-life interests – art and medicine – as he establishes the first dialysis clinic in Rhode Island and plays an instrumental role in creating the arts institution AS220. A true local hero, Chazan lives with passion and commitment as he follows his dreams to make the world a better place for those around him.

Considered controversial by some when it was originally published in 1990, Daddy’s Roommate was groundbreaking in its portrayal of two men living as a couple. Author Michael Willhoite, who resides in LGBTQIA+-friendly Cranston, wrote one of the first books for children that addressed homosexuality openy and honestly, telling the story of a young boy who learns that his divorced father is in a relationship with another man. The lesser-known sequel, Daddy’s Wedding, appeared in 1996 featuring the same family and the young boy serving as best man at his father’s commitment ceremony in a truly happily-ever-after tale.

Warwick author A. Oliver Noel weaves a fantastic tale of action and adventure in the richly illustrated Hidebound, a coming of age sci-fi novel. Noel follows Artem, a young person who becomes caught up in a web of danger, never knowing who to trust as they are thrust into the middle of a rebellion. This escapist-adventure immerses young adult readers in a new world that will hook them in and leave them wanting more. And the good news is that a second book is in the works so there will be more chances to follow Artem’s journey.

Writing stories is only one of the many ways multi-talented artist Bill Harley entertains young people. Known for his fun and inventive songs, Harley weaves a tale for children of all ages with Lost and Found, the adventures of a young man who must bravely face what he fears the most. Adam Gustavson’s illustrations take you along the journey with Justin into his school’s lost and found box where he finds out things about himself that he never expected. Is anything ever truly lost for good? Find a copy and see for yourself.

Not every day goes as planned, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be a day to cherish and remember. That’s the idea behind Saturday, a beautiful picture book from Providence resident and RISD graduate Oge Mora. A young girl and her mother put together a day of fun, but their adventures do not turn out exactly as planned. Perhaps, in the end, though, their adventure might have turned out even better. Mora’s art is a combination of collage and illustration that bring the story to life with a contrasting sense of action and calm. Check it out with your young reader. 

Star Wars: 99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire is the Star Wars fan version of the song “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” Rhode Island artist Greg Stones explores the well-known notion that the Empire’s stormtroopers, though dark and ruthless, may not be the most talented warriors and could even be a little accident prone. He exploits the idea by showing the untimely, yet humorous, demise of 99 newly recruited soldiers. And, yes, you’ll even bump into some special guests from a galaxy far, far away who, thankfully, are much more fortunate.

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