Alex Award Winners. The American Library Association gives Alex Awards each year to adult titles that are likely to appeal to teens. It's been a long time since I was a teenager, but I have found a lot of good reads on these lists-- a new author with a fresh perspective, in innovative spin on the art of fiction.
When I took Relish to the check-out desk, the friend and co-waorker who was working there picked it up and flipped through the pages and shrugged. She said she liked graphic novels where the artwork really stood out. I can't say that about this book. The images are skillfully rendered, colorful and balanced, but they are not breaking new ground.
So why am I recommending this book (and why did it win an award)? Is it simply the writing? Would this book work just as well as a short story? I think there is something about that graphic novel format that makes it not just about writing and not just about art that has to do with the pacing and the package and the experience.
Relish is a book about an American kid coming of age, surrounded by a whole wonderful world of food. It's about comfort and tradition and travel and trying new things. Perhaps Knisley uses her drawings more to explain and illustrate than to impress or inspire her audience. Often the images convey humor. Each section ends with a recipe that is depicted partly in diagram and partly in illustration, making it clear to the novice exactly how to recreate the item in question, whether wrapping sushi rolls or sauteing mushrooms.
--E.M., Reference desk