The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 29, 2013

Cari Rerat: Graphic novel tells endearing story of new school

By Cari Rerat
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — It's Maggie's first day of high school, public school, of traditional school learning (Before ninth grade, her mom homeschooled Maggie and her three brothers). Her older brothers have been in high school for a while, and now it's Maggie's turn.

"Friends with Boys," by Faith Erin Hicks, is the story of Maggie adjusting to high school, navigating the complex social arena of public school and making her first non-boy/non-brother friend.

Oh, and Maggie might be haunted by a 19th-century widow. And she and her new friends might rob a museum to try to help the ghost. No big deal.

I knew I would like "Friends with Boys" because I have been religiously following Hicks' "Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong" online (and you should too at, but I didn't know I would love it this much!

Hicks's story and writing are spot on. I remember what it was like being the new girl, and while I wasn't homeschooled, I was going from an almost rural school to a big-city school with so many people! My reactions were almost identical to Maggie's.  Luckily for Maggie, she has the security of three older brothers attending the same school.

The relationships between Maggie and her family members are sweet and genuine. Daniel, the eldest, is really into theater. Lloyd and Zander are twins who constantly fight. Meanwhile, Dad has just been promoted to police chief and Mom Ñ left.

Not only is the story wonderful, the art is great. It's all black and white and is just amazing. Hicks perfectly communicates expressions, moods and atmosphere while keeping everything bold and fresh. Together her art and writing are clever, funny, touching and ...

I just want to hug Maggie and hang out with everyone in the courtyard, OK? Now, go read it. Tell me how you like it, even if you don't.

Doctor dictionary dazzles

I bought "Doctor Who: The Visual Dictionary," by Neil Corry et al, for the Teen Department collection because the doctor is quickly gaining in popularity among my teens. I have several who completely nerd out any time "Doctor Who" is mentioned. It's pretty fantastic.

The new series of "Doctor Who" is so popular among the Library's patrons, in fact, that Monday was the first time I've seen the book on my shelves since I first put it on display in February. Before I could check it out for this review, I had to let three teens in my department look through it. (I kept saying, "You can look, but you can't check it out. It's mine!")

This visual dictionary features the 11th doctor, Matt Smith, pretty heavily, but does have some mention of previous doctors, including the doctors from the "classic" shows.

While it looks like it's going to be a quick read (and I'm sure it can be for the non-obsessed),  I spent ages reading every word about the doctor, the TARDIS, the various companions and the myriad of species the doctor encounters. I learned quite a bit from the entries, but much of my reading time was spent thinking, "OH! I remember that episode!"

"Doctor Who: The Visual Dictionary" is a perfect resource for anyone who wants to know what all the hubbub is about but doesn't want to slog through seven seasons of a (completely wonderful, amazing and engrossing) show, or for established fans who want to pore over as many details from "Doctor Who" as possible.