Anne of West Philly by Ivy Noelle Weir, illustrated by Myisha Haynes

I’m an anne-with-an-e and so it was a requirement of the universe that I’d be reading Anne of Green Gables before I escaped junior high.

Trying to read the original series has multiple hurdles that have only gotten stronger since I was a child. The series was set in rural Prince Edward Island, Canada, in a time before telephones, cars, and refrigerators. (The internet wasn’t even dreamed of.) The books were written in the early 1910s, so more than 100 years of word loss and language migration has taken place. And the story of a young white girl with red hair adopted by two older people who wanted a boy that could take over the farm isn’t exactly as easy to relate to these days as it was even when I was a teen in the 1990s.

But the story’s arc as a coming-of-age tale is certainly still relevant. People (of all ages) still need to know what a good apology looks like, why it can be hard to fit in when you’re different, that parents (and other adults) get things wrong too, and that the kid you think is a jerk might actually be more sincere than he lets on.

I’m thrilled that Anne of West Philly retells the first Anne of Green Gables story, overcoming the language barriers of the original and turning it into a graphic novel for all ages.

Some of the changes to be aware of:

  • Anne is a foster child, not a straight-up adoption as she was in the original. (These days you don’t get to just send an orphan you have legally adopted back if you don’t like them, thank God.)
  • Anne’s a Black girl with natural red hair.
  • Anne and her friends are on Instagram, they have cell phones, they are in a robotics club, they use school busses, they’re in our society.
  • The story takes place in West Philadelphia instead of a farm in Canada, which has surprisingly very little impact on the primary plot points.
  • (Spoiler) Near the end of the book we learn that not only is Gilbert not Anne’s primary love interest, she’s crushing on a girl. (The story ends before we see whether Anne wins the heart of the friend she’s interested in.)

In other words, it’s the kind of story that a kid today could understand without having to know anything about rural living, Canadian geography, or English as spoken 120 years ago. A timeless story that’s reset to a time that makes it easier to enjoy.

Definitely worth reading, and I just gifted it to a teen I know.

Foxes In Love, Volume 1 by Toivo Kaartinen

You’re probably familiar with the green and blue foxes that star in Foxes in Love, because Toivo Kaartinen posts them on twitter, Instagram, and tumblr. If you’re not, you’ll want to be. These are some of the most loving and caring comics available on the internet, with just enough of a humor twist to make you grin.

When you’re done volume 1, go preorder Foxes in Love volume 2.

Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle

Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle is written by Brian Clevinger and drawn by Scott Wegener.

Semi-spoiler alert: That thing the dinosaur did in the previous book sort of but didn’t quite work, resulting in Atomic Robo traveling back in time.

Most of the “back in time” books of Atomic Robo are actually just stories we haven’t heard yet, about a younger Robo during a younger time, a time post-Edison and Tesla, perhaps of World War II or the Cold War, punching Nazis or threatening Soviets.

This book, however, takes place in the Old West, before Edison and Tesla. Before electricity. Before robots, certainly. And Robo, who certainly didn’t plan ahead for his predicament, has only a limited amount of power, a strong desire to not change the past, and of course, an overdeveloped sense of justice.

Thus he finds himself with two famous westerners in 1884, fighting cyborg cowboys and saving the world. As you do.

There’s quite a bit of tension in this volume, some dry humor, and enough cyborgs to choke a steam engine. Definitely worth picking up.

Atomic Robo and the Temple of Od

Atomic Robo and the Temple of Od is written by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener.

Atomic Robo is in pre-World War II China, where the Imperial Japanese Army is forcing a Chinese scientist to work on a super weapon. Fortunately, the good guys have volunteered Robo to save the scientist.

There’s a bit of a Casablanca feel to this tale, since Robo’s working with an old flame, Helen McAllister and her new love, Chen Zhen, both of whom are fighting for the Chinese Resistance.

“Was that a real explosion?”
“It was! Robo’s alive!”

Add in a hidden fortress and a constantly-switching-sides band of mercenaries called the Ghost Bandits, and it’s a winner of a tale.

Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire

Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire is written by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener.

Atomic Robo is back in his own time! Or he will be, as soon as someone finds his remains. The problem is that two years have past since Atomic Robo: The Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur and the Action Scientists have been broken up and scattered.

Oh, plus there’s this little problem of supergiant monsters attacking the world with a plan of destroying everything.

This one’s got spaceships, giant Japanese-style monsters attacking the coast, breaking-and-entering, robot body issues, and every bit of explosion-y fighting you’ve learned to expect from an Atomic Robo adventure.