Dual Graphic Novel Reviews: Spinning + The Dam Keeper

Posted September 28, 2017 by shooting in Book Review / 16 Comments

Spinning by Tillie Walden 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): It was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.

Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.

She was good. She won. And she hated it.

For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. It was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But over time, as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the figure skating team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. It all led to one question: What was the point? The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she’d outgrown her passion–and she finally needed to find her own voice.

Review: I love graphic memoirs; it’s such an interesting way to learn about a person. Spinning is about the time in Tillie Walden’s life when she was a figure skater. She wasn’t aiming for the Olympics, but she did practice before and after school and took part in competitions. After awhile though, she started to realize that figure skating wasn’t necessarily her lifelong dream. She was falling more in love with art. She was also falling for girls, something that she didn’t let anyone in her figure skating life know about.

Spinning is a thick novel, but it reads quick. The artwork is done in black and white, with some strategic yellow here and there. It’s easy to read and I think a lot of teens could relate to Tillie. You don’t have to like someone of the same sex, or even be involved in something so intense as figure skating. Spinning, at its heart, is about learning who you are and growing into the person you want to be.

Double Graphic Novel Review: Spinning + The Dam Keeper Click To Tweet

The Dam Keeper by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads)Life in Sunrise Valley is tranquil, but beyond its borders lies certain death. A dangerous black fog looms outside the village, but its inhabitants are kept safe by an ingenious machine known as the dam. Pig’s father built the dam and taught him how to maintain it. And then this brilliant inventor did the unthinkable: he walked into the fog and was never seen again.

Now Pig is the dam keeper. Except for his best friend, Fox, and the town bully, Hippo, few are aware of his tireless efforts. But a new threat is on the horizon—a tidal wave of black fog is descending on Sunrise Valley. Now Pig, Fox, and Hippo must face the greatest danger imaginable: the world on the other side of the dam.

Review: This graphic novel is based on the Oscar-nominated animated short film of the same name. I don’t actually know this short film but it’s one I’d very much like to see now. I believe The Dam Keeper will have a sequel, as it definitely ends at a point where one is almost needed. At any rate, this first part of the story is wonderful. Pig lives in Sunrise Valley and he’s the dam keeper – his father built the dam to keep the deadly fog out of their home. Now people have almost forgotten about the fog, but certainly not Pig, whose own father walked into the fog. In this world, the fog equals death, so Pig believes his father must have been crazy. He still maintains the dam though; he keeps his hometown safe even though people don’t realize it.

Suddenly, the fog is coming closer and closer. Pig, his best friend Fox, and Fox’s best friend and Pig’s bully, Hippo, are suddenly outside Sunrise Valley and desperate to return home before the fog comes back and kills them. Perhaps I’m not explaining the book well enough, but I do hope it makes sense! This is a beautiful novel and you’re sure to feel for Pig and what he’s gone through. The artwork is wonderful; the colors are a bit muted, but it all felt realistic. You can almost imagine these characters becoming animated before your eyes!

16 responses to “Dual Graphic Novel Reviews: Spinning + The Dam Keeper

  1. I didn’t even realize they had graphic memoirs, that is awesome and such a fun way to write and read one! Great reviews for these!

    For some reason Bloglovin still won’t show me your feeds even though it swears I am still following you. I have no idea why, it’s driving me crazy. 🙁

  2. Jen

    Wow that Dam book! OK, maybe that sounded bad, but I am totally interested to see how a graphic novel does all that, Your review and synopsis very much intrigued me.

  3. I’ve never read a graphic novel before! Hearing about both of these has me more interested to do so though, so maybe I will add one to my reading list!

  4. I always love reading books about people with olympic or almost olympic abilities! This kind of makes me think of Gold that I read earlier this year, but it was cycling. I haven’t read a graphic novel before!


  5. The Dam Keeper sounds quite interesting, and judging from the cover art I’m assuming the interior art is pretty good too. Might have to pick that one up, my graphic novel reading has slowed down so much lately!

  6. These are BOTH amazing graphic novels! I’m constantly amazed and awed with the artwork and storytelling in some of the GNs coming out more and more today. Especially for my son. The storytelling is beautiful (like the Dam Keeper) with compelling artwork. And now they’re writing biographies in GNs? YAY!!! Awesome reviews!!

  7. I haven’t read any graphic novels in the longest time, but these both sound really interesting! Thanks for sharing your reviews on them! <3

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