Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Skim by Mariko Tamaki; Illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

Graphic novels are a unique opportunity to allow the reader to visualize the scene writers create in stories. These scenes can enhance the emotion behind the written word, such as fear, loneliness, and extreme delight. The illustrations created by Jillian Tamaki do just that in Skim, which was written by her cousin, Mariko Tamaki.

Skim is the nickname of the title character, Kimberly Keiko Cameron. She attends a preppy private Catholic school in Toronto, where she fails to fit in. She is Wiccan. She is Gothic. She is Japanese-Canadian. The suicide of the school’s star athlete turns his ex-girlfriend, Katie Matthews, and the school into a mourning freak show. The school’s reaction and coping mechanisms only serve to further Skim’s battle with depression, acceptance, and unrequited love. Compared to 90’s teen move favorites, Heathers and Dead Poets Society, Skim is a complicated coming of age story that befits the complications of high school and the heartache of youth.

Skim was nominated for the Governor General’s Award by the Canada Council for the Arts and YALSA’s 2009 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Award. The book garnered additional press because of the controversy surrounding the Canada Council nomination, which only listed the writer of the story and not the illustrator for the award. A number of internationally recognized comic writers, including Chester Brown and Seth, stepped up to request a revision to the nomination. It won the 2008 Outstanding Graphic Novel Ignatz Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by comics and cartooning.

Blogger’s note: Skim is one of my favorite reads within the past year.

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