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Maybe an artist : a graphic memoir
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Publishers Weekly Review
While struggling to "create something from nothing," Montague wonders as an adult, "Why do I do this?" She answers that question in this sincere graphic memoir debut by doing what comes naturally: drawing it out, and examining the motivations she discovered in her childhood leading up to her publication as one of the first Black female cartoonists to be featured in the New Yorker. Growing up post-9/11 as one of the few Black girls in Marlton, N.J., Montague struggled to see herself in visiting career day professionals (when a classmate asks which one she'd grow up to be, Montague replies, "None of them--they don't have the right hair"). She uses art to overcome obstacles such as dyslexia and her classmates' casual racism, as well as to contextualize the world around her. Embracing a sense of entrepreneurial spirit after first being paid for her art, she determinedly pursues art as a career. Told with a classic comic strip flair and divided into chapters that recount each life stage, Montague's illustrations, rendered in a flat pastel color palette and paired with deadpan humor and insightful social commentary, crafts an inspiring journey of self-discovery, self-expression, and self-love. Ages 12--up. Agent: Wendi Gu, GreenbergerKids. (Oct.)
School Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up--This graphic-format memoir is told from the POV of Montague as an adult, looking back on her childhood and exploring how her life changed from grammar school through adulthood. She reflects back to her earliest days, when she was trying to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Growing up as a Black girl with severe dyslexia, she spent time trying to find her voice as an artist while trying to break through barriers at the same time. The book is very effective in capturing the frustration and confusion of a young person dealing with a learning disorder and using her love of art to help her navigate reading. The cover, which puts a new spin on Rockwell's famous Triple Self-Portrait, grabs our attention right away, and the accomplished cartoons inside the book will hold the attention of even the most reluctant readers. The pace of this book takes its time until it ends quickly, with Montague's cartoons being published in the New Yorker, helping to pave the way for more inclusive comics. Montague's story is sometimes poignant but ultimately sweet and uplifting, and it will provide inspiration for young artists everywhere. VERDICT For fans of cartoons, true stories, overcoming odds, and women who carved out a unique place in the world.--Andrea Lipinski
Booklist Review
Beginning in first grade, when she was one of only two Black kids in her school, and spanning the years leading up to having her first cartoon accepted by the New Yorker, Montague describes her experiences as a child growing up in the rural suburbs of New Jersey, becoming socially conscious, and learning that she thinks and communicates best through art. Combining the messages, "the only way out is through" and "it gets better," Montague shows how she stayed true to herself while fulfilling the goals others had for her. The art is deceptively simple and flat, with eye rolls doing much of the expressing (in the same family as Mo Willems' infamous pigeon), which works beautifully with the tone of the book. Like a friend telling the reader a story, the tone is kept personal and conversational, laced with much humor and an awareness of herself that comes only from hindsight. Different from most graphic memoirs aimed at teens, this will speak to many readers who feel like they aren't being heard.
Kirkus Review
A Black cartoonist looks back at her school years and her path to career success. Montague opens her graphic memoir as an adult working through a creative block by remembering how she came to be an artist. On Sept. 11, 2001, she was only 5 and living in New Jersey. In the following years her dyslexia became obvious. As Montague moved on to middle school, she began to see journalism as her path, but her thoughts were consumed by struggles with academics and fitting in. While receiving praise for her artwork, she also realized she had a talent for track. High school brought its own challenges, as Montague felt invisible and overwhelmed as she grew to understand both the pressures of being a racial minority in her suburban community and the expectations to make the most of the opportunities provided by her parents' sacrifices. In college on a track scholarship, Montague took an art class and found a fulfilling and successful direction for her life, breaking through as a published New Yorker cartoonist at age 22. The author maintains a youthful voice throughout: Her descriptions of school and social struggles are well done and will resonate with readers. Her growing self-awareness is handled with insight and wit. The lively, expressive drawing style combined with a soft color palette and clean white background works perfectly with the tone of the narrative. A delightful combination of text and images delivered with humor and heart. (Graphic memoir. 12-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
A heartfelt and funny graphic novel memoir from one of the first Black female cartoonists to be published in the New Yorker , when she was just 22 years old.

When Liz Montague was a senior in college, she wrote to the New Yorker , asking them why they didn't publish more inclusive comics. The New Yorker wrote back asking if she could recommend any. She responded- yes, me.

Those initial cartoons in the New Yorker led to this memoir of Liz's youth, from the age of five through college--how she navigated life in her predominantly white New Jersey town, overcame severe dyslexia through art, and found the confidence to pursue her passion. Funny and poignant, Liz captures the age-old adolescent questions of "who am I?" and "what do I want to be?" with pitch-perfect clarity and insight.

This brilliant, laugh-out-loud graphic memoir offers a fresh perspective on life and social issues and proves that you don't need to be a dead white man to find success in art.
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