Adult Award-Winning Books Crime, Thriller, Mysteries and Puzzles Features Genre graphic novel It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Reading Themes Young Adult (YA) Literature

[Monday Reading] Mystery and Adventure in Graphic Novels by Female Creators

Meet Isabel Greenberg and Nilah Magruder


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

It has been awhile since I’ve featured graphic novels. While these two may not be easily classified as crime/thriller-related, they are definitely about adventure, mysteries, gods and mortals, with a superpower thrown in, along with a mystery title – both created by female authors/illustrators.


Written and Illustrated by Nilah Magruder
Published by Insight Comics (2017)
ISBN: 1683830040 (ISBN13: 9781683830047). Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This is the story of a wounded young girl named Abbie with a hearing impairment, traveling alone in the desert, carrying an urn of her mother’s ashes.

A long-haired young man named Jaime and his grandfather chanced upon this fierce, almost-feral, young girl. They brought her to their nondescript, almost-forgotten hometown called Little Marigold to be healed by the feisty, smart-talking, equally fierce Aunt Nifrain.

The artwork of Magruder has a very manga feel to it, that I am not sure how I feel about. But I did find the storyline fascinating, particularly the parasai, powerful thugs who were terrorizing this little community with the rationalization that the weak are meant to serve the stronger and the self-entitled. Unbeknownst to most, Abbie is herself a parasai, which brought a nice little twist somewhere in the end.

I was all teenage-giddy with the romantic tension between Jaime and Abbie – and look at that line above: “And if you’re bored, I’ve got books.” Hey, I am all in.

There are also a lot of embedded mysteries in the narrative, in particular, the fact that Jaime’s parents simply up and left him:

And most importantly, it is not clear where Abbie came from, why she is carrying her mother’s ashes, where she is going, and what M.F.K. actually stands for. Looks like I will have to wait for the other books in the series!

The Encyclopedia Of Early Earth

Written and Illustrated by Isabel Greenberg
Published by Little Brown and Company (2013)
ISBN: 0316225819 (ISBN13: 9780316225816). Literary Awards: Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Nominee for Best Graphic Album-New, Best Writer/Artist (for Isabel Greenberg) (2014). Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I first fell in love with Isabel Greenberg’s art and sardonic humour in One Hundred Nights Of Hero (see my review here). Apparently, The Encyclopedia Of Early Earth is the first book in the Early Earth series, which I am glad to finally read.

While the stories are familiar, expertly drawn from Biblical narratives, mythology, epic tales (hello one-eyed Cyclops, Medicine Man, giants, Old Crones) – Greenberg has breathed new and vibrant life into these ancient stories, reinventing them, making age-old classics her own.

I especially loved the story-within-story element, a tricky-and-very-risky writing tool as the reader can get lost down a rabbit hole with no hope of seeing the light. Yet it was done with a light, deft touch, the threads so seamless and unnoticeable that it was a joy to travel down Greenberg’s circuitous, meandering paths, even though there is a level of certainty that the reader will be joyfully gobbled up by the proverbial Minotaur right smack in the middle.

I found the gods to be petty, easily bored, meddling; and the Medicine Man somewhat dense and blessed with the mild and benign curiosity of one who couldn’t care less. I liked the Old Crone, though, her spunk and the fact that she feels sleeping off the entire day is something she has earned.

Among the gods, it was the female Kiddo I particularly adored. She is the mother of human beings and Earth, after all:

If you have yet to discover Isabel Greenberg’s visual and textual narrative, you are not too late to the party yet. Immerse yourselves in the universe of Birdmen, mortals who have lost a piece of their soul, helpful (and not-so-helpful) gods, storytellers, warriors, and reinvented mythology.

#LitWorld2018GB Update: Isabel Greenberg is from the UK, Nilah Magruder is from the US.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

10 comments on “[Monday Reading] Mystery and Adventure in Graphic Novels by Female Creators

  1. Sarah Sammis

    Both these books are on my wishilst. My weekly updates

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Both books look terrific, Myra, and both are new to me. Thanks for giving them some attention!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These both look amazing! I love the artwork in the first.

    My list!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for introducing me to books I’d never heard about. Hopefully I can find them!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jana Eschner

    I guess I don’t read enough graphic novels. Both of these books are new to me and look like awesome ones to check out. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I would like to set aside a couple months to dive into more graphic novels. My kiddos love them, but I tend to put them on the back burner and prefer traditional novels. Thank you for sharing and the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved One Hundred Nights of Hero. I’m on a waitlist for The Encyclopedia of Early Earth. M.F.K. looks awesome, too. I’m adding that one to my list for sure. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I thought immediately of Isabel Greenberg when I saw your title, so you can imagine how excited I was to see The Encyclopedia Of Early Earth here! I’m not sure which one I like best. I fell in love with her world with this one, but love the development of the characters in the second. Both are spectacular!
    (I just put a hold on M.F.K.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am intrigued by both of these titles. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Round Up of My Literary Journey and My Best in Books Across Quarterly Reading Themes – Gathering Books

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