CBR16SweetChallenge #Cozy (has a feeling of cozy, and deals with themes in a less intense manner)
The graphic novel Lo and Behold by Wendy Mass and illustrated by Gabi Mendez is a sweet story about Addy, a young girl who must learn to have empathy, sympathy and forgiveness for her father, mother, and most importantly, herself. There is a lot about VR technology and its real world applications. Adults can enjoy it as well as kids (strong 8/9 to 12-13). There is a little about drug addiction, parents incarcerated, and a lot about tortoises, space and Moon Seeds!
Yes, that is all crammed into a few hundred pages. The illustrations make it seem light, fluffy, cozy. And it is and isn’t, at the same time. Mostly things are cozy, such as things are brightly colored and these images are given to help us maneuver in a less abrasive manner. The ending is a bit of a surprise for those who do not read a lot of middle grade novels, however, I was a bit surprised too. At first I thought, “Oh great, another “Dead Mom” story.” (There is nothing wrong with them, but I have read a lot of them over the years and that was not what I was looking for). Then I realized something and thought, “Oh wait, mom seems to be alive….so she abandoned them because of “fill in the blank” (again, a great story, but not what I was looking for). But then, “Oh wait…. something isn’t “right”…. let’s find out what is going on.” Things are a bit realistic, but also maybe a bit idealistic at the same time for the adult reader. The kid reader will really get into things.
Overall, the idea of friendship and family is not new, but the way Mass brings her love of games, virtual reality and more modern themes, it takes on a new twist. If I had heard about Moon Seeds or Moon Trees, I had forgotten, so I was able to learn something about that (short description: an astronaut brought seeds into space, brought them home and the ones that survived were planted back on earth). This is a tie-in to how we can connect earth and space, and have a lasting legacy long after we are gone (plus environmentalism). And while I am not a VR person (in fact, I’m a slight techno-phobe and have some strong opinions on technology and that we worry too much about “can we do it” and not enough about “should we do it”), I learned about the practical uses VR could have. Read the author notes, the afterwards, the extras, the whole kit-and-kaboodle! There is a lot going on and it’s actually all good, even the parts that are not as happy.