Checking Out: Great New Graphic Novels

Featuring strong visual interest and captivating storytelling, graphic novels are a somewhat newer format to gain wide distribution and popularity.  Amazing new titles are being released all the time, so this month I wanted to share a few new graphic novels that came out this year. From a highly personal memoir, to a story about a septuagenarian demon hunter, to a helpful gardening guide, these titles cover a wide variety of interests.

Margaret Kimball’s “And Now I Spill the Family Secrets: An Illustrated Memoir” (2021, Harper Collins) is an in depth recounting of a family’s past and their struggles throughout generations with mental health. Kimball’s bold black and white illustrations focus heavily on empty rooms, establishing a strong sense of place while reflecting on photos, diary entries, interviews, and a variety of research to flesh out this family’s history. Emotional reflections on snippets from Kimball’s past are sometimes humorous, many times sad, and frequently relatable as she works through the complications of trying to gather answers about her family’s messy past.

On a lighter note, Hiromi Goto’s “Shadow Life” (2021, First Second), illustrated by Ann Xu, follows the seventy-six-year-old Kumiko, who has recently run away from an assisted living home and found her own apartment. Hiding out from her well-intentioned but overbearing daughters, Kumiko enjoys her independence, yet she faces one big problem – death’s shadow is currently residing in her closet, after she sucked it up in her vacuum cleaner to keep it at bay. Xu’s illustrations are highly charming with some creepy touches, while Goto’s sweet and humorous story celebrates individuality as well as community.

Finally, Joseph Tychonievich’s “The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food” (2021, Ten Speed Press), illustrated by Liz Anna Kozik, is both highly informative as well as fun to read. Neighbors Mia and George walk through the basics of starting Mia’s vegetable garden in a pleasant story that frames highly organized and well-presented steps to starting a garden of one’s own. The narrative form of this guide makes following along and digesting the steps easy and memorable, while the cheat sheets and tips are worth referencing time and time again.

Check out all three of these titles at your closest Denver Public Library location or put them on hold through For even more graphic novel suggestions, visit Denver Public Library’s Core Collections at – there you will find a curated list put together by librarians of graphic format memoirs and of standalone graphic novels worth checking out, as well as a number of other curated lists of different genres and formats.

Hannah Evans is the senior librarian at the Smiley Branch of the Denver Public Library.

Summer of Adventure is here!

Denver Public Library’s Summer of Adventure program is now underway!

All youth from birth to 12th grade are welcome to sign up online at or at any library location. Participants choose their own read, make, and explore path and complete 15 activities between now and August 21st to finish the program. Once completed, visit any Denver Public Library location to receive a free book after June 25.

Be sure to visit any DPL location to grab fun take and make kits throughout the summer and explore programming and challenges at the branch and online!


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