Thank you to Penguin Random House / Razorbill for sending me a copy of Fibbed for an honest review.
Everyone says that the wild stories Nana tells are big fibs, even though they’re the truth! And when another outlandish explanation lands her in hot water again, her parents announce that Nana will be spending the summer with her grandmother in Ghana.
She isn’t happy to be missing the summer camp she’s looked forward to all year, or to be living with family that she barely knows. But all her worries get a whole lot bigger — literally — when she comes face-to-face with Ananse, the trickster spider of legend. Nana soon discovers that the forest around the village is a place of magic watched over by Ananse.
But a group of greedy contractors are draining the magic from the land, intent on selling the wishes for their own gain. Nana must join forces with her cousin Tiwaa, new friend Akwesi, and Ananse himself to save the magic from those who are out to steal it before the magic — and the forest — are gone for good. (from the publisher)
When Nana meets Ananse, a literal legend, she learns more about her place in the world. He empowers her to come into her own and trust herself, thereby helping her family and village. It’s through Nana’s history, but also her self-determination, that she becomes empowered.
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Fibbed feels like Elizabeth Agyemang‘s love letter to immigrants and first-generation US Americans. This graphic novel is about growing up and reconnecting to your roots. Finding your cultural identity isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s not linear, and Fibbed says that’s OK.
I related so hard to Nana’s difficulty fitting in in either the US or Ghana, and I think any first or second-generation person in the “West” will too. Add Fibbed to the ever-growing list of books I wish I’d had when I was a kid. I’m so glad the world is changing to where these stories are finally getting published. 🫀
It’s fitting that Agyemang’s personal history inspired Fibbed because this story is so rooted in the personal. We feel Nana’s frustration and anger when her family doesn’t believe her or when they dismiss her. As an educator and protector of children, I was up in arms! But we’re supposed to be.
Also, any time colonizers get their comeuppance; I’m here for it.
Of course, I can’t talk about Fibbed without a special shoutout to the art. Agyemang’s illustrations are lovely and reflect the story and its setting quite well. I particularly loved her use of color and pattern. Ananse and his various incarnations, in particular, are very cool!
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Should you read it?
Yes. Agyemang’s Fibbed is a gorgeous graphic novel, from the story to the illustrations and the message. The tales we weave, whether true, myth or somewhere in between, are connections to ourselves and our pasts and Fibbed highlights that so beautifully. Everyone can find something to like about this book.
As it’s a middle-grade book, families can read this together and discuss the themes of tradition, culture, family, identity and even colonialism. Fibbed is educational without feeling so, and I highly recommend educators incorporate this graphic novel into their curricula.
Fibbed is out on June 7. Pick up a copy at your local indie book store or library. 🕸 📚
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