The Squirrel Mother

Overview

This acclaimed collection of graphic short stories includes personal and semi-autobiographical stories that draw heavily on the details of Kelso's youth along with stories about the idea of America and American history.
Kelso's work is characterized by subject matter that fits roughly into two disparate camps: personal and semi-autobiographical stories that draw heavily on the details of her childhood and adolescence, and stories about the idea of America and American history, ...

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Overview

This acclaimed collection of graphic short stories includes personal and semi-autobiographical stories that draw heavily on the details of Kelso's youth along with stories about the idea of America and American history.
Kelso's work is characterized by subject matter that fits roughly into two disparate camps: personal and semi-autobiographical stories that draw heavily on the details of her childhood and adolescence, and stories about the idea of America and American history, such as a trilogy of short pieces about Alexander Hamilton. Her work is distinguished from many of her contemporaries as much by her spare, elegant, calligraphic linework, leisurely pacing, and psychological acuity as it is by the absence of nihilism, scatology, pedantry, and formal experimentalism. Her work is charming, witty, nuanced, slightly elusive, and sharply observed.The Squirrel Mother features 15 stories of between three and twenty-two pages in full color, including two stories, "Meow Face" and "Aide de Camp," done especially for this volume. The personal stories are each self-contained but in a sense take place in the same world where similar characters inhabit different stories. The "America" stories are broader in subject matter, taking on events of political and historical significance and wrestling with ideas having to do with the American experience.

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Editorial Reviews

Only the Cinema - Ed Howard
“Kelso's moral probing and feel for understated emotions goes far beyond the talents of most of her peers. The deceptively clean style and pastel colors suggest a light read, but Kelso's work can be devastating in the way she pares down the excess to get at the essence of a particular moment or situation.”
Ed Howard - Only the Cinema
“Kelso's moral probing and feel for understated emotions goes far beyond the talents of most of her peers. The deceptively clean style and pastel colors suggest a light read, but Kelso's work can be devastating in the way she pares down the excess to get at the essence of a particular moment or situation.”
Publishers Weekly
While a young girl thoughtlessly destroys a dress her mother spent hours sewing for her, a squirrel mother, trapped by the household chores she does for her children, decides to abandon them. This is the opening story in Kelso's newest collection of graphic short stories. Kelso perfectly marries words and images, telling stories of longing and casual cruelty with a mastery perfectly suited to the comics medium. Whether it's a story of an aunt's unexplained desertion of her duties or a simple scene of learning to waltz, Kelso captures in a few panels emotions and ideas that expand well beyond the pages of this collection. The longest story is a well-researched imagining of our founding fathers and what would have happened if Alexander Hamilton had fought the duel he should have fought-against his ideological opponent Thomas Jefferson instead of Aaron Burr. Some stories are narrative, some just show the emotion of a single moment in time, but none truly end by the last page. Beautifully packaged, this is a gem of a collection. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Jennifer Feigelman
Kelso quietly transports her readers through a broad range of emotions in these short stories. In "Meow Face," a young girl faces an aunt who has lost the ability to speak and now only can meow. "On the Beautiful Danube" recollects a girl's experience with learning to waltz and being taught by her mother. The title story, "The Squirrel Mother," deals with a parallel between a young girl who destroys a dress and a squirrel family—both mothers abandon them. The longest story, a fictionalized recapitulation of the life of Alexander Hamilton, is told in three successive parts. Kelso's art is simple and striking, juxtaposed with her richly dense writing. When she employs color, her choices are perfectly unified with her stories. Kelso's writing is unassuming and metaphorical. The complexity of her writing, coupled with some adult content and sexual innuendo, makes this a selection for older teens looking for multilayered graphic novels that offer an alternative to superhero storylines and other mainstream works. An artistic and intellectual selection, Kelso's collection will probably not appeal to all teens, though it should be considered for larger collections.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560977469
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 7/31/2006
  • Pages: 136
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Megan Kelso lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and daughter. Her books include Queen of the Black Black, The Squirrel Mother, and Artichoke Tales.

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