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Selected Quotes from Reviews

Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History, V1


Glyph Award Winner 2015

Nominated as a Great Graphic Novel for Teens by the Young Adult Library Services Association

Named a BEA 2014 Buzz Book by Shelf Awareness and School Library Journal

Still more thoughtful reflections come from Joel Christian Gill’s graphic novel Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History, which unpacks its power through drawings and pointed text that chronicle the trials and triumphs of black Americans who struggled against prejudice more than a century ago. At a moment when racial inequities have ignited this nation, Mr. Gill offers direction for the road ahead from the road behind. — The New York Times

By the time I finished reading Strange Fruit, I thought, let the comic-book sellers have their mythic superheroes; through Joel Gill, we can have our own. But, instead of flying around in capes or spinning webs, the superheroes in Strange Fruit are extraordinary-ordinary black folks making ‘a way out of no way.’ The difference: they really lived. Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

These offbeat stories of heretofore-obscure African-American pioneers are filled with heartbreak and triumph. Without whitewashing the realities of slavery and racism, Strange Fruit has a wry, welcoming tone — much aided by Gill’s dynamic, inventive storytelling. After reading about such real American heroes as chess master Theophilus Thompson, bicycling champion Marshall “Major” Taylor, and lawman Bass Reeves, I’m eager to learn more!
— Josh Neufeld, writer/illustrator of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge

Strange Fruit is an evocative and richly illustrated tour through the shadowed corners of Black History. Gill shares these nine stories simply and with deep thoughtfulness and reverence to voices that– the reader will quickly be convinced– need to be heard. Andrew Aydin, author, with Rep. John Lewis, of March: Book

Strange Fruit is black history as you’ve never seen it before. Working with a striking palette of ruby reds, rich browns, bleached-out blues and deep piney greens, author/artist Joel Christian Gill conjures up forgotten firsts and impassioned everymen in a cartoon style that’s at once cheeky and epic, naive and majestic. The Chicago Tribune

If you think comics and graphic novels are the domain of “superheroes and stuff” and “for kids,” then brace yourself for an epiphany. Yes, you’ll find some superheroes and kids’ comics within these pages, but you’ll also find ordinary people striving for the extraordinary. — Foreword Reviews 

The short narratives are conversational in tone and the accompanying detailed images convey tragic beauty. Gill doesn’t shy away from portraying brutal scenes, but does so without sensationalism. — School Library Journal 

Are you always on your child to READ SOMETHING, anything, except a comic book? Well, Strange Fruit is a graphic historic novel, and you’ll want him to read it. — Terri “The Bookworm Sez” Schlichenmeyer

What Gill has done in this first volume of his collected Strange Fruit mini-comics is pretty remarkable. He’s infused each of these stories with a huge amount of information, humor for kid readers (“Slavery stinks”), humor for adults (when a child is born it appears to be launched out of the mother by jet propulsion, making the umbilical cord not unlike a bungee cord), and a full spectrum of comics storytelling devices.  The A.V. Club 

Superbly penned and illustrated, STRANGE FRUIT: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History, Volume 1 is indubitably a work of love. Earmarked as one-of-a-kind, this graphic novel is not only an additional masterpiece to black history, but also a delightfully educational read for both young and old. — Anita Lock of the blog, 20 Something Reads 

From the original black pro basketball star to a magician’s greatest illusion, become more familiar with these lives which made a positive difference, despite prejudice. —Katie Mack of the blog, YA Love

Readers of the short stories in Strange Fruit quickly learn to appreciate the playful succinctness of Gill’s iconographic language. He knows when to use humor and sight gags to advance the story. (On the experience of enslavement, Henry ‘Box’ Brown remarks: ‘This stinks.’) But Gill knows when more serious cultural cues are needed too, as in the two-page spread where Brown’s body, shown curled inside a wooden box, silently tumbles from slavery to freedom. —The Hooded Utilitarian


“Gill’s book fills a definite void in America’s painfully white history books, but on top of that, it’s just a really good read.” Foreword Reviews


“This is a must for all libraries, classrooms and homes. It is the perfect way for all of us to start exploring that shared history we have, in new and different ways.”Wha’cha Reading

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