Graphic Novel Review: Stepping Stones

Hey, friends!

If you’re following along, yesterday I teased at the big things coming this week. One of those things is a graphic novel review a day!

And today starts with a great new YA title from Luck Knisley and Random House Graphic: Stepping Stones.

Knisley’s Stepping Stones follows Jen, a young girl whose parents are recently divorced. In search of a fresh start, mom relocates to a farm outside the familiar big city to live with boyfriend Walter (also divorced).

On the weekends, Jen and her mom can be found selling farm-goods at a local farmers’ market, and when Walter’s two daughters come to stay with the group on the weekends, Jen’s way of life is further disrupted.

That’s about the gist of the plot.

But it’s not the plot that makes this book a keeper; it’s the interactions and humanity of the characters. Jen is tossed into situations that are difficult: big moves, new family, new responsibility. All of that can be jarring and complicated for kids. Heck, it’s complicated for adults!

And we feel for Jen. Yes, we know that we must “play nice,” and it’s important to pick our battles, but when the battles are coming at you from all sides, sometimes all you can do to not lose your cool is curl up in a barn loft with some kittens. I don’t have a barn, and I’m allergic to cats, but you get it. Jen doesn’t always have the best response to a situation, but she reflects and adjusts. That’s not easy.

We all lose it. On family, friends, strangers, etc. We’ve all learned how difficult things can get, especially over the past two months. Imagine how hard these things are on kids! They have less control than we do, although, honestly, I don’t feel in control of much anymore.

This is why this book is important. It swims in a multitude of themes including the importance of family, growth, adaptation, and courage…just to name a few. Thematic elements like this help us see ourselves in characters. We all go though the same stuff. Sure, some of us may have more or less money than the next person, but we feel love, loss, conflict, fear. The characters in this book are real, and relatability is an invaluable currency.

For example, the conflict (although not major) that Jen has with her mom’s boyfriend is never truly resolved. And that’s OK. We have people in our lives that we don’t always see eye-to-eye with, but we deal and make the best of it because we have to.

I think that’s what I like most about Knisley’s work, it’s sincere. I’ve been a fan for a while, and I was very excited when Lucy accepted my invitation to be on a panel I put together at C2E2 this past February (pic below).

If you follow her on social media, you’ll quickly find that Lucy does not shy away from getting honest. The short comics she posts on Instagram (@lucyknisley) are thoughtful. And the motifs and themes that arise in her work are often sad. Like really sad…

Stepping Stones is another book from Lucy Knisley that knocks it out of the park. It does have a younger audience than some of her other work, but I dig that. Kids are going to love this book. And I’d say they can learn from it, but we can all learn from it.

For information on Lucy Knisley and to check out her work, please visit her site here.

C2E2 Food and Comics Panel I put together (left to right): Mike Haracz, Mike Satinover, Hugh Amano, Sarah Becan, Lucy Knisley, Me

If you missed my blog yesterday, you can check it out here. Lots of good stuff coming this week, including a YA graphic novel review each day…posts up by 6:00 PM.

Happy Teaching! Happy Reading!


Twitter: comics_teacher

IG: @comics_teacher

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