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April Staff Picks!

Check out this month’s staff picks from the Betty’s Books crew!


Alain’s Pick


Bloom book coverBloom by Kevin Panetta (he/him) and Savanna Ganucheau (she/her)
Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band–if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.I realized a little bit ago that I don’t know enough queer stories that focus on masculine characters, so it’s been my mission ever since to find them all, from middle grade to adult comics. I really love a cozy romance, especially when it involves something like baking, so Bloom felt like a perfect place to start. The characters are well written, with their messy exes, personal issues, and complicated friendships. I loved this comic; it was the perfect bit of YA fluff that I looked forward to whenever I had a chance to sit down and read it.


Alex’s Pick


Gleem book coverGleem by Freddy Carrasco

This stunning collection blends afro-futurist concepts with gorgeous, sprawling art that results in a science fiction (yet, of course, all too real) masterpiece. Every once in a while, I come across a graphic novel that begs to be taught in a classroom. Gleem would be a fantastic window through which students could learn about sci-fi as allegory, androids and their treatment as metaphor for real-world inequality, how art can be a language in and of itself, etc. etc. etc.! I adored reading this book, and as soon as it drops on April 16th, you will too. If you’d like to preorder a copy, hop on it now!! 


Betty’s Pick


Aya book cover

Aya: Claws Come Out by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie; Translated by Edwige Dro


Take a colorful slice of life comic but set it in the 1980’s Cote D’Ivoire. Add in some soap opera-y drama and some incredible translation work by Edwige Dro, and you’ve got something really special. That’s Aya! Although this volume is the 7th in this beloved series, I jumped in here and had a wonderful time and you can too. 

Aya is a take-no-crap law student who is passionate about social change in Côte D’Ivoire. Her group of friends (and sometimes enemies) are a joy as well. Bintou, the television star, who keeps getting mistaken for the homewrecking, “harlot” character she plays, is my favorite, but there’s a wide cast to love here. The coming-of-age vignettes deal with problems big and small, and are funny and serious–but the overall outcome is celebrating this group of young people and their home, Côte D’Ivoire (though one character, Innocent, actually lives in Paris for this volume!) 

Ouberie’s sketchy linework, perfectly exaggerated facial expressions and hand lettering/paneling support the unfolding character drama as well as creating an atmosphere that feels unfussy and intimate. Also, wow, the character design, especially the hairstyles, fashions, and even character’s posture/bearing are incredibly specific and create a wonderfully vivid cast. For a person who has never been to Cote D’Ivoire, the art in combination with the story created that magical effect of transporting me to a new place: the cuisine, the colors, the sounds…

…speaking of sounds, holy smokes! Abouet’s words plus the translation work by Dro create a truly rhythmic experience. The use of proverbs, use of different addresses (“girl,” “brother,” “madam,”), words that can’t really be translated into English like “hein?” and “ehn,” weave such a specific verbal texture. Somehow the original Cote D’Ivoire specific French feels very present even though I’m reading English. 

Bottom Line: If you want to learn about everyday life in a different place and time in the world, this is a great read for you. If you love a strong heroine with a fun group of friends, this is a great read for you. If you liked Maison Ikkoku, Wash Day Diaries or Girl Juice, this is a great read for you. Age Recommendation: 15+ (but could age down for interest!)


Katie’s Pick


Glass Town book cover Glass Town By Isabel Greenberg

This captivating graphic novel invites readers on a journey through the eccentric and tragic lives of the Brontë siblings. The book begins with the untimely deaths of Maria and Elizabeth, the eldest siblings. Following their deaths, the remaining Brontë children deal with their grief and isolation through pen and paper, creating a complex fictional world known as Glass Town.Isabel Greenberg brings to life the vivid landscapes, diverse cast of characters, and dramatic sagas the Brontës created in this fictional world. Yet, this book is more than fiction—it’s a mesmerizing blend of memoir and fantasy, weaving together the real-life experiences of the Brontë siblings with the magical world they crafted. A world that often felt brighter and more real than their realities.It’s a compelling story for readers of fiction and nonfiction alike, and most certainly for any Brontë fans.


Lottie’s Pick


Princess Jellyfish book coverPrincess Jellyfish by Akiko Higashimura
I’M SO OBSESSED WITH PRINCESS JELLYFISH. It’s a super cute slice of life manga, which I would recommend for both beginner-readers of manga, and longtime fans of manga for a light read. It’s incredibly easy to pick up and incredibly difficult to set down. The art is beautiful. The comedy is niche and hilarious. And the stories are always interesting, sometimes heartwrenching. Princess Jellyfish follows Tsukimi, an anti-social fujoshi obsessed with jellyfish and terrified of men, stylish people, and every imaginable social situation. Plagued with anxiety and still grappling with unresolved trauma from the sudden death of her mother, she spends all her time drawing jellyfish and watching them in aquariums. She has a sudden meet-cute with a super stylish girl, when Kuranosuke helps her rescue a jellyfish that isn’t being treated properly in captivity. Kuranosuke is pushy and clingy, and despite the closed off nature of Tsukimi’s home, an apartment COMPLETELY populated by NEETs called the AMARS, Kuranosuke invades all of their space and spends the night. It’s when she wakes up the next morning that Tsukimi discovers… Not only is she stylish, she’s a BOY! A love triangle unfurls between Tsukimi (terrified of men), Kuranosuke (A crossdresser that is literally everything Tsukimi stands against) and Kuranosuke’s brother Shū (A prudish politician who is horrified of women because of his deep dark past), all while the cast tries desperately to save the weird old apartment building the AMARS live in, so they can continue their otaku lifestyle. Sound all over the place? That’s because it is! Every sub-plot is just as good as the last, follow them all! I’m getting so abnormal about Princess Jellyfish!