CBR16SweetChallenge #New (I think this was the first Alex Award I’ve read)
The main thing I liked about the book, The Talk was that it goes through the history of author Darrin Bell. We see the events that would shape him. But with a few exceptions, these were mostly just “day to day” events. The Talk is “Just A Day in the Life of Bell.” We see his point of view while we get his explanations, and his feelings. We see his family through his eyes. We see his white mother, black father, and his older brother. We learn about the past, present and eventually, the future.
When we start to see how the bigger picture starts to come into play, and how things change, and not change this is where, in the middle of these growing pains, the themes of Talk come through. We see The Talk his mother gives him, The Talk his father doesn’t give him, The Talk his grandfather says, The Talk his Grandmother is part of. And we see the talking, yelling, and the quiet of those who could not talk, act, or breath. The end is where things start to get more thoughtful and editorial. Which is not surprising as Bell has made his living being an editorial artist, among other journalistic pursuits. Like it, love it, hate it, there is something for everyone and hopefully everyone comes away with questions, and maybe a few changes happening to themselves.
It is his artwork that wraps this all together. It is interesting, expressive, and while maybe not my personal choice/personal preference, it works for the story and becomes its own character telling Bell’s story just as much as the text. The use of color, or lack thereof, is strong and sometimes the panels could be overly busy, and sometimes open, and sometimes something in between. These images show the facial expressions that people have, shows the fears, and even the fantastical elements of how a few times Bell has flashbacks to being a child and the fear he had for some dogs, that represent the police officers who “morph” into them. The historical elements can be disturbing as he shows images of George Floyd, 9-11/the Towers, etc. Overall, things are tastefully handled, as the book was written for adults. However, it has worn an Alex Award. This is an adult book that has crossover appeal for young adults. The Alex Award is said to be aimed at adults and teens 12 to 18, but I’d make sure it was a strong 12 to 14 reader, and one who’s ready for a lengthy, harder hitting book.