Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sara Varon

Sara Varon's work includes the graphic novels Sweaterweather and Robot Dreams, and the picture book Chicken and Cat (a 2006 Parent's Choice silver honor award winner).

I recently asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I was reading a lot of books until I subscribed to The New Yorker magazine! It takes me awhile to get through that I so I don't have much time to read anymore.... I gotta figure that out!

Even though I make graphic novels, I don't read that many. But my favorite is The Rabbi's Cat by Joann Sfar. The Rabbi's Cat 2 just came out, and that was my most recent read. The second book was just as good as the first one - both the stories and pictures are fantastic.

Before that, I think I read the 3-book YA series by Philip Pullman which begins with The Golden Compass. (I found it pretty satisfying.) And before that (I am a big boxing fan) I read Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, which is great probably even if you aren't interested in boxing. Jack Johnson's life makes a great story and it gives a pretty good account of what life was like for black Americans in the early part of the 1900s.
Read more about Sara Varon and her work.

From the Booklist starred review for Robot Dreams:
In this nearly wordless graphic novel, Dog’s desire for a companion is satisfied the day Robot arrives by mail. Dog assembles Robot, and their adventures begin. After visiting the library, watching movies, and eating popcorn, the companions end up at the dog beach. Robot is hesitant to frolic in the waves with Dog at first, but after a short pause, he dives right in. The result is unfortunate — a rusty, immobile Robot. Unsure of what to do next, remorseful Dog abandons Robot on the sand to dream of what might have been (depicted first in brown tonal artwork as opposed to the color used to designate actions in real time) had things turned out differently. While Robot is used and abused, and eventually disposed of in a scrap yard, Dog agonizes over his companion, then begins searching for a new one with mixed, sometimes comic results. Varon’s drawing style is uncomplicated, and her colors are clean and refreshing. And although her story line seems equally simple, it is invested with true emotion. Varon’s masterful depiction of Dog’s struggles with guilt and Robot’s dreams of freedom effectively pulls readers into this journey of friendship, loss, self-discovery, and moving forward. Use this as Exhibit A to prove that graphic novels can pack an emotional punch equal to some of the best youth fiction.
--Marshal Zeringue