Check out this month’s staff picks from the Betty’s Books crew!
December Staff Picks!
ND Stevenson, the creator of Nimona and the showrunner for the She-Ra reboot, has had an amazing career. He earned illustration awards, became famous on Tumblr for his art, received an internship with BOOM! Studios, and began working right out of college. How has all of that success affected his life? What happens if and when he burns out? This book is a vulnerable collection of his life, progressing through the years with doodles, comics, and writing. It beautifully documents how he struggled, learned, and began to accept his identity, from queerness to mental health.
Here we have the perfect read for anyone who digs food or sapphic lit! This book follows two neighbors–Nomoto and Kasuga–the former of which (you guessed it) loves cooking. Unfortunately for Nomoto, she has the appetite of a bird and struggles with having too much food as a result of her favorite hobby. Enter her neighbor Kasuga, who can knock back three large servings without blinking!
The two women begin to eat together almost every night in what starts as a simple arrangement, but quickly evolves into passionate talks about misogyny in the workplace, period cramps, and of course, food! As the two grow closer, it becomes clear that their relationship is headed in a less than platonic direction, although nothing definitive happens in volume one.
This book was refreshing and delightful to read, and as a foodie myself, I adored the elaborate illustrations of the delicious meals Nomoto whips up. A detail that really impressed me is the way in which Nomoto responds to Kasuga’s incredible appetite; as opposed to encouraging her to eat less or watch her figure, Nomoto is amazed watching Kasuga eat, and if anything, it contributes to what seems to be a budding romance. Bonus: in the back of the book is an in-depth index covering all the yummy dishes mentioned! Volume two drops this March and I’ll be first in line to catch up with these girlies!
Blue Period tells the story of Yatora, a high school guy who seems to have it all going for him–popular, handsome, and an academic high performer–but he feels empty like he’s going through the motions in someone else’s life. One day, he wanders into the art classroom and discovers a painting by a fellow student. It completely lights him up. From there, he paints his own first scene (in blue), finds that art is one way he can be truly authentic, and dives headfirst into art pursuing his newfound dream of attending art school. He also makes some delightful new friends along the way, including the cantankerous prodigy, Yotasuke, and the complex and passionate, Yuka.
One of the things I especially love about this series is that many different artists contribute to each volume by creating the images of paintings and drawings that the characters make. So, each piece looks distinct and says something specific about what the character is going through with their art. Also, there are many lessons on visual art–composition, e.g.–that Yatora is learning from his teachers, and it is so delightful to learn along with him. It takes me back ye old art history days.
Blue Period was recommended to me by a beloved former Betty’s Books bookseller about a year ago. I wish I would have taken her advice, and moved it to the top of my TBR sooner! If you like manga, art, or slice-of-life stories with a great cast of characters, don’t make my mistake. There’s still time to catch up. Volume 11 just came out, and volume 12 comes out at the end of January.
I recently got back into reading and collecting manga through Chainsaw Man. I fell in love with this series by watching the anime first. It was the little dog Pochita that did it for me. Although a little pervy, the main character Denji has simple desires that are somewhat relatable. He grew up homeless, broke, and without a family. All he wants is to live a normal life with no debt. But fate has something more dark in store for him. In order to live a normal life, he must rid the world of devils first!
A paranormal romantic comedy as we have a girl who believes in ghosts but not aliens and a boy who believes in aliens and not ghosts; WILD! Their world is turned upside down as this unlikely duo must work together to prevent things and stuff from happening in places!
Bubba Brayna makes the best latkes in the village, and on the first night of Hanukkah, the scent of her cooking wakes a hungry, adorable bear from his hibernation. He lumbers into town to investigate, and Bubba Brayna–who does not see or hear very well–mistakes him for her rabbi. She welcomes the bear inside to play the dreidel game, light the menorah, and enjoy a scrumptious meal.
However, after her well-fed guest leaves, there’s a knock at the door–it’s the rabbi, and all of Brayna’s other friends, arriving for dinner. But there are no latkes left–and together, they finally figure out who really ate them.
Lively illustrations by Mike Wohnoutka, portraying the sprightly Bubba Brayna and her very hungry guest, accompany this instant family favorite, a humorous reworking of Eric A. Kimmel’s earlier classic tale, The Chanukkah Guest. A traditional recipe for latkes is included in the back matter, along with interesting, digestible facts about the history and traditions of Hanukkah.
A 2013 National Jewish Book Award Winner, this book is perfect for a holiday story time with children– either in the classroom or at home, as an introduction for young readers to the traditions and customs of Hanukkah, and as a classic to return to year after year.
Celebrate the holiday season with this festive Chanukah board book that’s a twist on the popular nursery rhyme “Five Little Monkeys!”
Five little dreidels spinning all around.
One got dizzy and then fell down.
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said,
No more dreidels spinning all around.
A Chanukah twist on “Five Little Monkeys”, little ones will love following five little dreidels on a fun-filled adventure.