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Red Scare: A Graphic Novel

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A page-turning adventure featuring a clever 11-year-old girl who must, against all odds, protect her family and town during the height of the communist "red scare." In the aftermath of the Korean War, Peggy's small hometown is rife with anti-Communist hysteria. But Peggy has bigger problems: She's struggling to recover from polio. Taunted by her classmates, Peggy just wants A page-turning adventure featuring a clever 11-year-old girl who must, against all odds, protect her family and town during the height of the communist "red scare." In the aftermath of the Korean War, Peggy's small hometown is rife with anti-Communist hysteria. But Peggy has bigger problems: She's struggling to recover from polio. Taunted by her classmates, Peggy just wants to be left alone, but then she stumbles across a mysterious object that gives her the power to fly. Unscrupulous operatives from the American and Soviet governments seek the object to overturn the tense political stalemate, and Peggy finds herself smack in the middle of the Cold War arms race.


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A page-turning adventure featuring a clever 11-year-old girl who must, against all odds, protect her family and town during the height of the communist "red scare." In the aftermath of the Korean War, Peggy's small hometown is rife with anti-Communist hysteria. But Peggy has bigger problems: She's struggling to recover from polio. Taunted by her classmates, Peggy just wants A page-turning adventure featuring a clever 11-year-old girl who must, against all odds, protect her family and town during the height of the communist "red scare." In the aftermath of the Korean War, Peggy's small hometown is rife with anti-Communist hysteria. But Peggy has bigger problems: She's struggling to recover from polio. Taunted by her classmates, Peggy just wants to be left alone, but then she stumbles across a mysterious object that gives her the power to fly. Unscrupulous operatives from the American and Soviet governments seek the object to overturn the tense political stalemate, and Peggy finds herself smack in the middle of the Cold War arms race.

30 review for Red Scare: A Graphic Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    To what extent has the age of disparaging comics passed? In the old days, books like The Seduction of the Innocent by Frederic Wertham argued that comics were a morally repugnant form of entertainment. It took decades upon decades for graphic novels to pull themselves up out of the morass of ill-favored commentary and start winning major awards. The Pulitzer for Maus. The Newbery for New Kid. Now more high quality comics for kids are being published than ever before, but even at their peak they To what extent has the age of disparaging comics passed? In the old days, books like The Seduction of the Innocent by Frederic Wertham argued that comics were a morally repugnant form of entertainment. It took decades upon decades for graphic novels to pull themselves up out of the morass of ill-favored commentary and start winning major awards. The Pulitzer for Maus. The Newbery for New Kid. Now more high quality comics for kids are being published than ever before, but even at their peak they still can hardly touch kids’ insatiable demand. I was probably thinking about all of this as I read Red Scare by Liam Francis Walsh, in large part because he’s set the book right smack dab in 1953 (Seduction of the Innocent was published in 1954). As I paged through a book so thoroughly enmeshed in history and science fiction by turns, I marveled that something this accomplished is just so casually available to kids these days. When I was young you had your Carl Barks at the 7-11, if you were lucky, and the newspaper comic collections at the library. Now we get gripping, thoughtful, historical/science fiction hybrids for kids that have a lot to say to young readers today. Lucky young 'uns. If you found something that could completely change your life for the better, what would it take to get you to give it away? Peggy’s been miserable since she contracted polio. Her brother won’t even look at her. Her mom keeps insisting she do her leg exercises. And her dad . . . well, he’s got his own issues. Then one day everything changes. Somewhere a marvelous glowing rod ends up in Peggy’s crutch. The rod has the ability to make anyone in contact with it capable of flight. Now Peggy’s zooming through the skies, making new friends, and having a blast. But as it turns out, she has enemies everywhere. Can she trust the FBI agents that keep following her? And what about that creepy guy with the fedora and glasses that appears everywhere she goes? Is he really a Communist spy? It’s hard to know what the right thing is when your country is caught up in a Cold War, but sometimes the answers are more obvious than you think. Somewhere I once read about a moment that happens in fiction, whether it’s film or prose or comics, where characters in a book will suddenly come to a realization that they need to make a mental shift because their genre just changed. That sure as heck happens in Red Scare. For the first 60 pages you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were reading a pretty darn good McCarthy-era comic. It’s only when the characters start flying all over the place that both they, and you, realize that this is science fiction, pure and simple. Mind you, the main character reading The Martian Chronicles in her spare time was probably a dead giveaway. Of course once you’ve identified the real genre, the next step is to determine how well the author/artist transitioned you, the reader, from one type of story to another. For me, the moment is shocking, which is precisely what Mr. Walsh is going for. Its reveal is big and dramatic, and I may have had to suppress a little gasp when I encountered it on the page. I should note, by the way, that my 10-year-old daughter was incredulous that I didn’t realize that the book was science fiction from the start. “Don’t you remember the scene in the beginning of the book?” she pointed out to me. Ah. Yes. Well . . . there’s also that. And yet it could easily have been a parody of itself. There are times when the 50s tropes are so piled on top of one another that you begin to wonder if there was any idea Walsh didn’t include. Polio, McCarthyism, alien invasion films, Korean War vets with PTSD, it’s all mixed in together. I’ve read it through a couple times and part of what I admire about it is how well the story holds together. The crux of it all lies with Peggy. Essentially, the book is demanding that she be more than a passive observer of her own life (Jess would call it “gumption”). The decision she has to wrestle with is whether or not to return something that doesn’t belong to her, but that makes her life better and easier. That’s something any kid could sympathize with, even as they root for her to make he right decision. Now the flipside of that messaging are the times where the book tips a little too far into the pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps mentality, to its own detriment. You know that moment in the movie Up where the two old guys are fighting and long forgotten are their physical ailments? That kind of thing always bugs me, since it plays off physical injury as mental, in some way. The same could be said of certain moments in Red Scare. Peggy has to climb a ladder, in spite of the fact that she hasn’t been exercising her own limbs properly, and anytime she points out her limitations, sympathetic characters pooh-pooh her concerns. Could have used a bit less of that overall. And the cast of the comic, for the record, is fairly all white. All things to bear in mind going into it. Initially when I read that creator Liam Francis Walsh lived in Switzerland I thought, “Ah, yes. The overwhelming Tintin influence (guns and all) makes so much more sense now.” Somehow I’d conveniently missed the fact that Walsh had grown up in Wisconsin. But the Tintin feel is legit (you practically expect Captain Haddock or Thomson and Thompson to come blustering into some of these scenes) even as it also has more than a drop of Little Orphan Annie in there as well. And yet, the tone of the book is entirely its own. It’s as if Walsh had melted a little Tintin in a pan of hot noir. I feel I cannot adequately stress not simply how well drawn it is, but how beautiful some of these individual scenes are. Early in the book there is a moment where Peggy and Skip have been held after school in detention. The long panel is wordless and breathtaking. The afternoon sun splits the room in half. On the dark side are Skip and Peggy, fuming. In that hard early fall/late afternoon yellow sits their jaded teacher, smoking and reading, all black shadows and crisp pen lines. It’s a bit unclear if Walsh inked colored the book in addition to drawing it. If he did, the man’s a triple threat. It harkens back to some of the best black and white films of the 50s, while utilizing color in smart, specific ways. I always like to pair books together in my mind as I read them. Reading Red Scare, the book I was reminded of the most isn’t even a comic at all, but a middle grade novel. Spy Runner by Eugene Yelchin is also very visual, though, and its tone replicates Walsh’s in a lot of ways. Both books take a good, hard look at America’s red scare and find the country wanting. But of course they also trade in on some of the nostalgia for that bygone era as well. Unfortunately, some of its less savory aspects are alive and well with us today. The lessons the kids can take from this book, then, comes in the form of a warning. Beware the mobs. Beware joining them. Beware and aware of what they’re capable of, and don’t disregard them either. But beware your worst instincts most of all.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    Set in the early 1950s, RED SCARE is a unique story that combines multiple elements of the decade to create an adventure in which a young teenager accidentally discovers a strange element that gives her incredible powers--and the dangerous attention of multiple entities who want to take possession of it. Who could they be? RED SCARE reminds us that the '50s were not the idealized version we often see in popular media--there were plenty of downsides, from life-destroying Communist witch hunts, to Set in the early 1950s, RED SCARE is a unique story that combines multiple elements of the decade to create an adventure in which a young teenager accidentally discovers a strange element that gives her incredible powers--and the dangerous attention of multiple entities who want to take possession of it. Who could they be? RED SCARE reminds us that the '50s were not the idealized version we often see in popular media--there were plenty of downsides, from life-destroying Communist witch hunts, to the devastation of polio, to the human fallout from the Korean War. As such, it contains some more mature elements, but will be a compelling read for upper elementary and up. (Although, the main characters attend what is identified as a "middle school"--was that a thing in the 1950s? In my area, they were junior highs until into the 21st century.)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kiera Beddes

    This is a fast-paced, film noir-esque, sci-fi flavored historical fiction set during the late 50's Cold War. The story focuses on Peggy, who is disabled after recovering from polio. Her family is struggling with the aftermath of the Korean War, as her father is a veteran. She has a new neighbor girl whose family moved due to the Red Scare. Peggy discovers a mysterious artifact that brings two shady FBI agents and a mysterious man in a trench coat to town. She will have to save her family, friend This is a fast-paced, film noir-esque, sci-fi flavored historical fiction set during the late 50's Cold War. The story focuses on Peggy, who is disabled after recovering from polio. Her family is struggling with the aftermath of the Korean War, as her father is a veteran. She has a new neighbor girl whose family moved due to the Red Scare. Peggy discovers a mysterious artifact that brings two shady FBI agents and a mysterious man in a trench coat to town. She will have to save her family, friends, and town - if she is brave enough.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Liam Walsh

    Yup, I gave my own book five stars! My mom read it four times in two days, so it must be good (that was fun to see -- thanks, Mom!). Anyway, the book may not be for everyone, but it wasn't meant to be -- I wrote it for you! (And my mom!) If you want to read a great, slightly more balanced review (with fewer mentions of my mom) check out Betsy Bird's review on this page. I thought she really nicely laid out the strengths and weaknesses of the book, while also giving it some interesting context. D Yup, I gave my own book five stars! My mom read it four times in two days, so it must be good (that was fun to see -- thanks, Mom!). Anyway, the book may not be for everyone, but it wasn't meant to be -- I wrote it for you! (And my mom!) If you want to read a great, slightly more balanced review (with fewer mentions of my mom) check out Betsy Bird's review on this page. I thought she really nicely laid out the strengths and weaknesses of the book, while also giving it some interesting context. Don't ever give up, pals!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Luke Steere

    Walsh, a Wisconsin native and New Yorker Cartoonist, has a simple drawing style a lot like Tin Tin, with round characters usually in awe of the zany B-movie plot. There’s a couple of cigarette smoking agents in fedoras, a West Side Story gang of bullies, starchy, TV-commercial adults; and, of course, a macguffin, an object of power which turns the main character, Peggy, into something of a Spidermanesque hero. The book links together all sorts of intense themes as vital plot points, such as the Walsh, a Wisconsin native and New Yorker Cartoonist, has a simple drawing style a lot like Tin Tin, with round characters usually in awe of the zany B-movie plot. There’s a couple of cigarette smoking agents in fedoras, a West Side Story gang of bullies, starchy, TV-commercial adults; and, of course, a macguffin, an object of power which turns the main character, Peggy, into something of a Spidermanesque hero. The book links together all sorts of intense themes as vital plot points, such as the effects of polio or the intense post-traumatic stress syndrome of Peggy’s father, a veteran of Korea. However, the story moves along at such a fast pace, that neither gets bogged down by these, nor examines them fully. They are employed as secondary to the sci-fi plot, which is like a middle grade Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Manchurian Candidate. At one point, there’s a chase sequence in a library that plays for laughs– the danger is never really quite believable– but what is Walsh’s critique of the hypocrisy of the “Better Dead than Red” zeitgeist of 1950s America. Looking back on such hysteria in the spring of 2022 has turned out to be fitting, given a Cold War superpower is once again rattling the saber. Walsh’s message turns out to be a warning as well. Anything you didn’t like about it? Red Scare has Walsh writing what he knows: middle America. The story is inventive and it weaves in some important themes for discussion, but much of the foundation for the characters and plot are repeats of tried and true superhero tropes and middle grade trials and tribulations. This is his homage to a story told many times over. For fans of nonfiction or historical fiction looking for something light; graphic novel enthusiasts who loved March, They Called Us Enemy, or Don Brown’s nonfiction comics. There’s some winking nostalgia in here, plus some themes that will stick with you, so you could give this one a go.

  6. 4 out of 5

    BiblioBrandie

    Excellent graphic novel during 1950s Cold War. It's fast-paced and the art and story reminded me of classic comic books. It's historical fiction with sci-fi and noir flair. You get spies, communism, fear, polio, bullies, and the aftermath of the Korean War...something for everyone! Used it this week for a book talk with 8th graders. Excellent graphic novel during 1950s Cold War. It's fast-paced and the art and story reminded me of classic comic books. It's historical fiction with sci-fi and noir flair. You get spies, communism, fear, polio, bullies, and the aftermath of the Korean War...something for everyone! Used it this week for a book talk with 8th graders.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Wow what a ride! Red Scare throws you headlong into the action from the first panel and doesn't let up on the gas until it's chased you through the Cold War in mid-20th Century Middle America. At times whip-through-the-pages suspenseful, funny, frightening, and deeply moving, even the quiet moments have surprises in them. Some of the worst in human nature that was revealed in that time period is told with nods to some of the best work that came out of that time period, from Herge's Tintin to Ray Wow what a ride! Red Scare throws you headlong into the action from the first panel and doesn't let up on the gas until it's chased you through the Cold War in mid-20th Century Middle America. At times whip-through-the-pages suspenseful, funny, frightening, and deeply moving, even the quiet moments have surprises in them. Some of the worst in human nature that was revealed in that time period is told with nods to some of the best work that came out of that time period, from Herge's Tintin to Ray Bradbury to Rod Serling to Harper Lee. A tremendously satisfying read for readers of any age.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marcia Porter

    Excellent story weaving together the fright of the time with fact, fiction, and fantasy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    PoutingPenguin

    An enjoyable read for many ages- the pictures are beautiful and quite expressive. There is a bit of science fiction and fantasy incorporated into the midst of the Cold War setting, but the book also carries a deeper meaning of overcoming disability, standing away from the crowd for what is right, and family ties.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This graphic novel weaves the cold war, McCarthyism, and the polio epidemic into a sci-fi/fantasy story featuring a mysterious object that grants unusual power to anyone holding it. Peggy is recovering from polio, her father is recovering from war injuries, and her twin brother is just angry at the world.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tom Toro

    A stunning debut graphic novel from an exceptionally talented cartoonist. The artwork is breathtaking, the characters are finely wrought, the story is brisk and gripping, and the ending has a fantastic twist. Liam has brought to life a period of paranoia in 20th century America that couldn't feel more relevant. A stunning debut graphic novel from an exceptionally talented cartoonist. The artwork is breathtaking, the characters are finely wrought, the story is brisk and gripping, and the ending has a fantastic twist. Liam has brought to life a period of paranoia in 20th century America that couldn't feel more relevant.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Peggy's family is struggling in 1953. Her father has come back from the Korean conflict badly injured, and their mother is cleaning rooms in a hotel. Peggy is recovering from polio, but the exercises are hard, and she is not doing them as much as she should. When she is helping her mother at work (actually, hiding out and reading a library book), she gets caught in a room when a guest enters. The man, whom we have seen earlier eluding the authorities with a myster E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Peggy's family is struggling in 1953. Her father has come back from the Korean conflict badly injured, and their mother is cleaning rooms in a hotel. Peggy is recovering from polio, but the exercises are hard, and she is not doing them as much as she should. When she is helping her mother at work (actually, hiding out and reading a library book), she gets caught in a room when a guest enters. The man, whom we have seen earlier eluding the authorities with a mysterious briefcase, sees her briefly, but is later found dead. Peggy is questioned, and even though she and her mother don't know anything, the taint of having been near a "Commie" sticks to her, and bullies at school give her a hard time. Her twin brother Chip is also targeted. When Peggy is trying to escape from some of these bullies, her new neighbor arrives on her bike to rescue her, but the two try crossing the railroad tracks just as a train is approaching. It looks like they were hit, and their bike is found crushed, but the two are nowhere to be seen. This is because they have flown skyward. Peggy finds that the man at the motel has put a glowing red bar of some mysterious material in the tubing of her crutches, and this allows her to fly and also to walk unaided. She is grilled and followed by government agents, and at one point thinks she will turn the substance in to the FBI. Her new neighbor's family is accused of being Communists, and a group approaches their home to harm them. Peggy's father stands up to them. Will Peggy be able to solve the mystery of the substance and keep her family and friends safe? Strengths: The 1950s are such an interesting period of history, yet there are so few books about it. Baby Boomers have really fallen down on the job writing about their childhoods'! It's helpful to read Walsh's notes at the back before diving into this science fiction graphic novel. He does a good job capturing the spirit of the comics at the time, and bringing in a film noir and 1950s sci fi vibe. This also had the most exciting scene I've ever scene in a graphic novel, and a lot of action and adventure, which can be hard to find in this format. Peggy's struggles with the aftermath of polio are well portrayed, and I would love to see an entire novel about a tween going through that experience. (Weber's Rosellen Kern has similar struggles, but eventually succumbs to the effects of the disease in the heart wrenching A Bright Star Falls, but that was written in 1959.) Weaknesses: I was distracted by the fact that both Peggy and Chip looked like Tin Tin, and there were a couple of things that seemed historically inaccurate. Young readers will not have these problems. What I really think: I was expecting this to be historical, so it took me a bit to get my mind around it. This was an interesting title, but definitely science fiction. I will probably buy this, but there was something about it that didn't sit quite right. Maybe the neighbor girl wearing jeans to school? Perhaps the fact that everyone I've talked to in Ohio did not have any experience with the Cold War affecting everyday life in Ohio. No one was turning in neighbors as Communists or having FBI agents descend on their neighborhoods. Maybe this was an East or West Coast thing? Titles that address more realistic aspects of the homefront of the Cold War include Elliott's Suspect Red (2017), Avi's Catch You Later, Traitor (2015), Averbeck's A Hitch at the Fairmont (2015)Kidd's Year of the Bomb (2009) and Holbrook's The Enemy (2017), and the nonfiction titles Marrin's A Time of Fear (2021) and Brimner's Blacklisted (2018).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Bange

    Reviewed from an ARC; artwork shown in B&W. Debut author/illustrator Walsh takes many 1950's pop culture markers and mashes them together in this fictional Sci Fi story set during the Red Scare. Peggy, a middle grade student stricken with polio, doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the kids at school. Family issues at home also limit her socially in many ways (her mother helps manage a motel, while her double amputee/one-eyed Korean veteran father never leaves home). However, life becomes a bit Reviewed from an ARC; artwork shown in B&W. Debut author/illustrator Walsh takes many 1950's pop culture markers and mashes them together in this fictional Sci Fi story set during the Red Scare. Peggy, a middle grade student stricken with polio, doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the kids at school. Family issues at home also limit her socially in many ways (her mother helps manage a motel, while her double amputee/one-eyed Korean veteran father never leaves home). However, life becomes a bit more exciting - and even dangerous - when she befriends the girl next door, finds the body of a dead stranger, and discovers a glowing capsule in one of her crutches. Peggy's "growth spurt" happens when Jess points out her worst fault. Spies, fallout shelters, forearm crutches, lingo (such as "beeswax", "commies"), March of Dimes, weight scale with weights, the film "From Here to Eternity", bullet bras, station wagon, UFOs, and cow pies help set this story firmly in the time period. Full color artwork by Walsh will make this blast into the past visually exciting. The book closes with an author's note about the Red Scare and 1950's America and includes sample sketches showing his process in making this book. Be aware that there is gun violence, with the FBI pointing guns at and shooting at/hitting not only the stranger, but also the kids. Pair this with Steve Sheinkin's Fallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Showdown (Roaring Brook, c2021) or other books about the 1950's Cold War and the Red Scare for a sample of what it might have been like for civilians during this dangerous time period in American History. Recommended for grades 7-10

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    It's 1953 and the Korean War is over but Peggy has her own battles to fight at home with a father suffering from PTSD, a community that suspects everyone of Communist activities, and her own recovery from Polio going poorly. A chance discovery lands an object in her hands that gives Peggy the ability to fly but also marks her as a target for those who want this power for themselves. With distrust brewing in her neighborhood, the young girl is forced to come to terms with the world outside her do It's 1953 and the Korean War is over but Peggy has her own battles to fight at home with a father suffering from PTSD, a community that suspects everyone of Communist activities, and her own recovery from Polio going poorly. A chance discovery lands an object in her hands that gives Peggy the ability to fly but also marks her as a target for those who want this power for themselves. With distrust brewing in her neighborhood, the young girl is forced to come to terms with the world outside her doorstep and to consider what it means to be a good person. Walsh's graphic novel is short but packed full of history and adventure bound up with science fiction. The illustrations are reminiscent of Hergé's original Tintin comics, which fits the feel and timeline of this story perfectly. The story is quick to jump into presenting the main characters and setting the scene to get readers into the action and later moral quandaries that will arise; Walsh doesn't shy away from heavy topics but presents them appropriately for a middle grade audience through a similarly-aged character just trying to make it through the school day. While abrupt, the ending leaves readers with a sense of hope and empowerment that aligns well with each character arc and ties everything up neatly.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    I don't know what to think about it because I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either. With the press it was getting I was excited because I thought it would be a straight graphic novel historical and/or nonfiction about the Red Scare but instead it was an unexpected mashup of a girl with polio who finds a red stick that allows her to fly and she makes a friend while being hunted by the FBI. There's a storyline about her dad returning from war who suffers from PTSD. There's her lack of friend I don't know what to think about it because I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either. With the press it was getting I was excited because I thought it would be a straight graphic novel historical and/or nonfiction about the Red Scare but instead it was an unexpected mashup of a girl with polio who finds a red stick that allows her to fly and she makes a friend while being hunted by the FBI. There's a storyline about her dad returning from war who suffers from PTSD. There's her lack of friends due to her polio, her doctor who tries to scare nee encourage her to stretch to strengthen her legs by introducing her to a dying girl. And there's the flying. So in reading the author's note I understand where Walsh is coming from with his story, but I guess I wasn't prepared for that and thus disappointed that it wasn't historical fiction or nonfiction but a science fiction story that as an adult I don't understand the subtle connections so the intended audience is likely going to be a little more lost unless they're looking at it strictly for the characters and story which are ... there, but not super mysterious, intense, moving, that would be super engaging. The story is disjointed and it's not fluid.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Zabcia

    78% * intriguing premise of setting a sci-fi in a more realistic 1950s, rather than the typical idealized version (i.e. including polio, bullying, the threat of atomic war, and the ever-present fear of covert communists) * I do wish the father didn't just disappear from the story after standing up to the bullies with his baller speech. (view spoiler)[Would've been nice to see some reconciliation between him and the mother, too. (hide spoiler)] "You all see that flag there? Which part of it do you r 78% * intriguing premise of setting a sci-fi in a more realistic 1950s, rather than the typical idealized version (i.e. including polio, bullying, the threat of atomic war, and the ever-present fear of covert communists) * I do wish the father didn't just disappear from the story after standing up to the bullies with his baller speech. (view spoiler)[Would've been nice to see some reconciliation between him and the mother, too. (hide spoiler)] "You all see that flag there? Which part of it do you reckon we fight for? The thread, maybe? Or the dye...? The stripes? You think men lay down their lives for a bunch of little cloth stars? Of course not! It could be a jar of pickled, and we'd still fight for it, because of what it symbolizes...justice, equality, liberty! And that man's tight to think what he pleases! We oughta start living up to those ideals, or quit pretending we believe in them." "You think he's a threat to this country? Look around! If you abandon the principles that star-spangled banner stands for...then all it is is a striped rag, flapping in the breeze. See, we gotta be brave...'cause if we save America from the communists, but a man can't trust his neighbors anymore...tell me - just what, exactly, will we have saved?"

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

    1953 America may be idealized for its post-war success and growing consumerism, but Walsh provides us with a grittier look at what it might have been like to grow up in this time. Peggy wants nothing more than to ditch the crutches she is bound to thanks to polio-but not enough to do the grueling exercises her doctor prescribes. Her twin bother, Skip, barely wants anything to do with her, so she hopes to make friends with the new girl who has just moved in next door. After she accidentally finds 1953 America may be idealized for its post-war success and growing consumerism, but Walsh provides us with a grittier look at what it might have been like to grow up in this time. Peggy wants nothing more than to ditch the crutches she is bound to thanks to polio-but not enough to do the grueling exercises her doctor prescribes. Her twin bother, Skip, barely wants anything to do with her, so she hopes to make friends with the new girl who has just moved in next door. After she accidentally finds an artifact dropped by a soviet spy, Peggy discovers she can use the bright red object to not only walk normally, but fly! However, both sides of the nuclear arms race want possession of the object, and Peggy finds herself right caught in the middle, especially when the new neighbors are thought to have communist ties. Peggy must decide how to stand up for what's right, even if it means sacrificing for others. I love the historical notes at the end and the fact that this graphic novel provides historical context for a time period not studied until high school, if at all.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gary Sassaman

    This YA graphic novel tells the story of Peggy, a young girl recovering from Polio in 1950s America. She helps her mom clean motel rooms and comes across a mysterious man who is being hunted by the FBI. Before the man—who may or may not be a Communist spy—dies, he hides a strange, glowing object in one of Peggy’s crutches, an artifact that gives Peggy the power to fly. Walsh’s graphic novel sums up all the paranoia of the 1950s—Communism and McCarthyism, UFOs and prejudice—in a neat Hergé-like a This YA graphic novel tells the story of Peggy, a young girl recovering from Polio in 1950s America. She helps her mom clean motel rooms and comes across a mysterious man who is being hunted by the FBI. Before the man—who may or may not be a Communist spy—dies, he hides a strange, glowing object in one of Peggy’s crutches, an artifact that gives Peggy the power to fly. Walsh’s graphic novel sums up all the paranoia of the 1950s—Communism and McCarthyism, UFOs and prejudice—in a neat Hergé-like art style with great coloring. It’s a quick read for a 240-page book. and features some back matter pages, including an explanation of the historical aspects of the story and some sketchbook stuff. The book is wrapped up a little too neatly for my tastes by a bit of a deus ex machina, but I still really enjoyed the story and art and was pleasantly surprised by this book, which I purchased blindly without knowing too much about it; the time period and subject matter sucked me in.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Murray

    This graphic novel set in 1953 is about Peggy, who is disabled because of polio, and finds an object hid in one of her crutches by a mysterious man who was killed by the FBI. This object allows Peggy to fly and to walk, and she doesn't want to give it up. A secondary storyline has Peggy's new friend Jess and her family being persecuted by town people who believe they are communists. Peggy's father, a wounded Korean War veteran, is struggling with his own demons. Peggy is tracked down and investi This graphic novel set in 1953 is about Peggy, who is disabled because of polio, and finds an object hid in one of her crutches by a mysterious man who was killed by the FBI. This object allows Peggy to fly and to walk, and she doesn't want to give it up. A secondary storyline has Peggy's new friend Jess and her family being persecuted by town people who believe they are communists. Peggy's father, a wounded Korean War veteran, is struggling with his own demons. Peggy is tracked down and investigated by the FBI that ends in a final showdown at the city's water tower. While the historical elements are important for today's tween readers to know it's the fantasy elements that help it to be more inviting and entertaining. The author at the novel's end reviews the highlights of the polio epidemic, the "Red Scare," and the height of UFO sightings. An entertaining read for tweens that will enlighten them about their great grandparents experiences from the 1950s.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I ended up really liking this! I went into it a bit leery about being able to get that '50's era issue of 'the red scare' across to youth .....in some form that they'd read & understand......but this author really managed to do it!! The 'Note From The Author' at the end, explaining much of that period, & how he actually works his sketches into finished pieces was what really tipped me to a 4 star rating. And the 'Acknowledgements' were also worth reading! All very well done.....& youth & adults I ended up really liking this! I went into it a bit leery about being able to get that '50's era issue of 'the red scare' across to youth .....in some form that they'd read & understand......but this author really managed to do it!! The 'Note From The Author' at the end, explaining much of that period, & how he actually works his sketches into finished pieces was what really tipped me to a 4 star rating. And the 'Acknowledgements' were also worth reading! All very well done.....& youth & adults will enjoy this!

  22. 5 out of 5

    S

    Peggy Monroe, a crippled girl suffering from polio, retrieves a strange red rod from her walking stick after the death of an apparent Soviet. After an accident, she realises that the rod is an answer to all her problems. The beautifully illustrated book is set in 1953 during the Red Scare. It brings to life the fear in people which brought them against the Communists. I love the patriotism displayed by Peggy's father showing the true meaning of the flag. Peggy Monroe, a crippled girl suffering from polio, retrieves a strange red rod from her walking stick after the death of an apparent Soviet. After an accident, she realises that the rod is an answer to all her problems. The beautifully illustrated book is set in 1953 during the Red Scare. It brings to life the fear in people which brought them against the Communists. I love the patriotism displayed by Peggy's father showing the true meaning of the flag.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cameron Curtis

    Solid graphic novel about the era for kids I think. Never explained what a “Commie” is tho? Idk. You get the idea that it’s like. A belief. But nothing more than that. But it’s kinda complicated and also not really important for the era bc it’s more about like. “Thing bad” than it is about what a communist actually is.

  24. 4 out of 5

    emyrose8

    Historical science fiction graphic novel, whew! I liked it, although, I didn't really care for the characters. They were kind of bratty. But the story was good and the setting was pretty accurate; there aren't too many books for middle school set in the 1950s, let alone graphic novels. One I'll be buying for my classroom. Historical science fiction graphic novel, whew! I liked it, although, I didn't really care for the characters. They were kind of bratty. But the story was good and the setting was pretty accurate; there aren't too many books for middle school set in the 1950s, let alone graphic novels. One I'll be buying for my classroom.

  25. 5 out of 5

    TheNextGenLibrarian

    Great topic that's not written about enough in middle grade literature, and hardly at all in graphic novel format. I liked the focus on disability awareness, bullying, PTSD and the time period itself. Great topic that's not written about enough in middle grade literature, and hardly at all in graphic novel format. I liked the focus on disability awareness, bullying, PTSD and the time period itself.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Peggy Dostie

    After I finish it, I'm going to turn right around and read it again. That's how much I love the illustrations! They're more than meets the eye, I think, with layers of meaning, which sets the book apart from other graphic novels. >> I just finished the book, and it is extraordinary. I am still in awe of the drawings; the full-page illustrations are especially great. I just can't imagine being able to draw like that. Your kids will love the pictures as well as the nailbiting action. << After I finish it, I'm going to turn right around and read it again. That's how much I love the illustrations! They're more than meets the eye, I think, with layers of meaning, which sets the book apart from other graphic novels. >> I just finished the book, and it is extraordinary. I am still in awe of the drawings; the full-page illustrations are especially great. I just can't imagine being able to draw like that. Your kids will love the pictures as well as the nailbiting action. <<

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    The back matter saved this book for me. The author/illustrator’s explanations of 1950s sci-fi stories helped me understand the speculative parts of this short graphic novel about the Red Scare during the Cold War.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    This is such a neat story of a brother and sister. The young girl has the after-effects of polio and is learning how to navigate this when her life turns upside down upon meeting a strange man...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Angie Shuck

    A mash up of historical fiction and science fiction with a little bit of coming of age, this was a good, quick read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Tin Tin but make it red scare and also aliens

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