Friday, April 30, 2010

20. The Good Neighbors

Black, Holly. The Good Neighbors. ISBN: 978-0-439-85562-4. Graphix. First Edition, 2008.

Plot Summary
The Good Neighbor’s Book One Kin is written in the same vain as Black’s Modern Faerie Tale series. Black’s female protagonist, Rue Silver, spends her days hanging out with friends, exploring abandoned structures, and going to coffee shops. Her nights are spent watching performances by her boyfriend’s punk band. Rue Silver is any edgy, unique, teenage girl, which is part of her appeal, however, Rue Silver is not a girl at all, and soon she discovers that she is the daughter of a faerie. After an argument between her parents, Rue’s mother disappears leaving the father devastated. One of Mr. Silver’s students turns up dead and he becomes the suspect in both a murder and missing persons case. While Rue digs deeper into her family history, she starts to notice strange irregularities, her mother doesn’t have a birth certificate or a marriage license, and she appears to look the same age in every photo. Rue also starts to see strange creatures, and after speaking with a faerie at school and conducting research, she discovers her mother’s true identity.

She also meets her grandfather, Aubrey, who is a ruler in the world of Faerie. She learns that her grandfather has discovered that only a family member can overthrow his rule, and he suspects that Rue is the one capable of doing so. While keeping a careful eye on his grand daughter, Rue’s mother finally returns, her father is cleared of all charges, and she has to deal with her failing and complicated relationship. Rue quickly notices her mother acting out of character when she fails to answer questions about their shared memories. Tragically, and suddenly, her mother passes away, and at the story’s cliffhanger ending, Rue and her friends dig up her mother’s grave to discover a changeling in her place, constructed of sticks and twine

Critical Evaluation
The graphic novel format works well for Black's The Good Neighbors, and would really work well for any of Black’s work because the world and landscapes she paints with her words are so vivid and descriptive. Her emphasis on the theme of betrayal in this title adds to the bleakness and despair demonstrated in artist Ted Naifeh’s illustrations. Choosing Naifeh’s stark and beautiful art style to accompany Black’s dark and romantic world of Faerie, was the perfect amalgamation of talent for this project. Naifeh portrays Black’s vision of Faerie through his otherworldly pen and ink illustrations, which are both beautiful and dangerous. His harsh use of lines paint a captivating and alluring portrayal of faerie demeanor. He also has the uncanny ability to set the tone of the novel through his detailed backgrounds. The world he creates is inhabited by cracked stones, broken windows, dense foliage, and decay. His ability to portray mood through scenery, helps to enhance the visual nature of Black’s words. The success of Kin has lead to the publication of The Good Neighbors Book 2 Kith, and a third title is currently in the works. Black has established herself as a talented up and comer in the comic book industry and readers are flocking to her dark illustrated tales of urban fantasy.

Reader's Annotation
When your mother is missing and your father is accused of murder, finding out you're a faerie might not be so bad after all.

Author Information
Holly Black is a bestselling fantasy author for teens and children. She is currently working on a graphic novel series called The Good Neighbors as well as novel about curses called The White Cat. When she isn't drinking coffee, or reading in her secret library, she enjoys playing with her cats, and writing in her journal at:

graphic novel, urban fantasy

Curriculum Ties
fantasy art

Book Talking Ideas
Family secrets and betrayal.
How does Rue feel when she discovers that her entire life has been a lie?
Would you consider being a faerie a good or bad thing?

Reading Level
Grades 8+

Challenge Issues
violence, murder

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the book in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection
I read this title for my author/genre assignment and really became intrigued with the portrayal of pure fantasy in the graphic novel format. Graphic novels as I knew them were a medium dominated by superheros, so to experience graphic depiction of faeries and other fantastic creatures was not only unique but enjoyable. Volunteering in the library this year I have really noticed how popular graphic novels are amongst teen readers. For the purpose of this blog assignment I wanted to include a range of as many graphic novel genres as I possibly could. The Good Neighbors fits into that small niche genre of Graphic Faerie fiction, and because of the specificity of subject matter, is an important title to become familiar with.

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