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Skim [Hardcover]

Mariko Tamaki , Jillian Tamaki
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

March 1 2008 NY Times Best Illustrated Children's Books

A New York Times Book Review choice as one of the 10 Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2008.

Skim is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth stuck in a private girls' school in Toronto. When a classmate's boyfriend kills himself because he was rumoured to be gay, the school goes into mourning overdrive, each clique trying to find something to hold on to and something to believe in. It's a weird time to fall in love, but that's high school, and that's what happens to Skim when she starts to meet in secret with her neo-hippie English teacher, Ms. Archer. But when Ms. Archer abruptly leaves, Skim struggles to cope with her confusion and isolation, armed with her trusty journal and a desire to shed old friendships while cautiously approaching new ones.

Depression, love, sexual identity, crushes, manipulative peers --teen life in all its dramatic complexities is explored in this touching, pitch-perfect, literary graphic masterpiece. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki collaborate brilliantly in this poignant glimpse into the heartache of being sixteen.


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From Publishers Weekly

This auspicious graphic novel debut by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki tells the story of "Skim," aka Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a goth girl in an all-girls school in Toronto, circa the early '90s. Skim is an articulate, angsty teenager, the classic outsider yearning for some form of acceptance. She begins a fanciful romance with her English teacher, Ms. Archer, while nursing her best friend through a period of mourning. The particulars of the story may not be its strong suit, though. It's Jillian's artwork that sets it apart from the coming-of-age pack. Jillian has a swooping, gorgeous pen line-expressive, vibrant and precise all at once. Her renderings of Skim and her friends, Skim alone or just the teenage environment in which the story is steeped are evocative and wondrous. Like Craig Thompson's Blankets, the inky art lifts the story into a more poetic, elegiac realm. It complements Mariko's fine ear for dialogue and the incidentals and events of adolescent life. Skim is an unusually strong graphic novel-rich in visuals and observations, and rewarding of repeated readings. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

...the expressionistic fluidity of the black and white illustrations serves the purpose of pages of prose, so that the laconic conversation of these girls and Skim's almost equally economical and intermittent diary entries ring true. (Canadian Literature 2010-02-10)

Being able to tap into that visceral experience, warts and all, is what makes Skim such an amazing read...A powerful and poignant story that is as perfect a synergy of words and art as you're likely to find in comics, Skim is a true gem. (Metro 2008-04-01)

...avoids all the cliches of a coming-of-age story...Original in every which way. (Valerie D'Orazio Friends of Lulu 2008-02-01)

...intelligent choice...a sensitive and caring portrayal of youth...universal...a complete success...[Jillian's] storytelling is solid...[and] her art is very atmospheric... (Gay Comics List 2008-04-01)

...traverse[s] the turbulent landscape of high school with tenderness and a keen eye for the yearning of adolescent girls...From the particularities of slang to the bigger concepts like fear and isolation, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki capture the subtle details that comprise this understated part of life...a world [in] which anyone who has ever been a teenager would be able to relate to at some level...Jillian Tamaki's use of line and shadow is effective in rendering the psychology of characters and the moody spaces they find themselves in...Formally, Skim is interesting for its varied approach to panel-use. Some pages flaunt over 10 similarly sized and shaped panels while others reveal only one (often silent) borderless image. The overall effect reveals impressive artwork and many powerful scenes...Skim is a unique piece, one not to be missed. Highly Recommended. [Skim uses] high school as a fertile setting for pungent commentary on racial, cultural, and sexual issues...The narrative, mainly in diary form, feels accurate and realistic, drenched in a sense of confusion and nihilism, and the art, influenced by Craig Thompson's Blankets (2003), reflects the spare, gloomy emotional landscape in which Skim exists. This story will appeal to many female comics fans... (CM Magazine 2008-03-01)

...[Skim is a] stunningly emotional graphic novel...an artful jumble that is as true-to-life as it is diffuse...unfussy and immediate...The delicately lined art alternately expands and contradicts the prose to achieve layers of meaning, tone and irony...With honesty and compassion, this innovative narrative communicates a life just beginning, open and full of possibility. (Horn Book 2008-05-01)

...[Skim] manages to avoid the usual cliches...The b/w cirt is fluid and curvy and looks like it came straight out of a sketchbook. The little details are wonderful...Highly recommended for high school graphic novel colelctions, especially those catering to girls. (Kliatt 2008-05-01)

...rendered delicately...Mariko's writing is assured...Skim's self-searching entries are wrenched off or lit up by the next image...Skim comes into its own, building a teenage girl mood that's struggling observant and shyly heartfelt by turns. (Vue Weekly 2008-04-01)

[Skim] is a convincing chronicle of a teenage outsider who has enough sense to want to stay outside...All in all, Skim offers a startlingly clear and painful view into adolescence for those of us who possess it only as a distant memory. It's a story that deepens with successive rereadings. But what will teenagers think? Maybe that they've found a bracingly honest story by a writer who seems to remember exactly what it was like to be 16 and in love for the first time. (New York Times 2008-11-08)

Skim comes out on top...connects in every way...This graphic novel is a winner...a unique creation...Scenes are often hilarious and black-humoured as well as serious...Mariko Tamaki's prose captures an authentic adolescent voice that's dramatic, self-obsessed, funny, earnest, and sometimes glib...Skim is an unforgettable character in the tradition of Holden Caulfield-a clear social commentator on adult and adolescent behaviour whose ironic observations on social hypocrisy ring sharp and true...Illustrator Jillian Tamaki's fine draughtsmanship gives Skim a classic elegance that's missing in many other graphic novels...a powerful sense of mystical eeriness that deepens and enhances the story. Skim is a funny, poignant, memorable drama of navigating adolescence. (Quill & Quire 2008-03-01)

The Tamaki cousins in their first graphic novel take a huge fistful of typical high school story trappings and distill a beautiful and funny time capsule of real feeling...striking black-and-white artwork flows in clear but soft, shaded line work...The visual storytelling is firm and often quite lovely...Skim is a refreshing reminder of the inevitability of change and the importance of looking beneath the surface. (VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) 2008-06-01)

This beautifully rendered graphic novel portrays the confusion of adolescence and how it can lead to depression and experimentation. (Book Links 2010-01-10)

...an auspicious graphic novel debut by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki...It's Jillian's artwork that sets it apart from the coming-of-age pack. Jillian has a swooping, gorgeous pen line-expressive, vibrant and precise all at once...evocative and wondrous...It complements Mariko's fine ear for dialogue and the incidentals and events of adolescent life. Skim is an unusually strong graphic novel-rich in visuals and observations, and rewarding of repeated readings. (Publishers Weekly 2008-02-01)

...brilliantly told and illustrated coming of age tale that will appeal to young readers and adults alike. This book deals with a number of themes that are relevant to teenagers (including suicide, parental separation, youthful alienation, the journey to finding oneself, love, and many others). The story is told in a way that is hilarious and heart-breaking in equal measure. (TeenLibrarian.co.uk 2009-07-09)

[Skim uses] high school as a fertile setting for pungent commentary on racial, cultural, and sexual issues...The narrative, mainly in diary form, feels accurate and realistic, drenched in a sense of confusion and nihilism, and the art, influenced by Craig Thompson's Blankets (2003), reflects the spare, gloomy emotional landscape in which Skim exists. This story will appeal to many female comics fans... (Booklist 2008-03-15)

[Skim] is bringing kudos to Canadian children's book publisher Groundwood Books for its poignant and funny portrayal of a teenage girl...[Jillian Tamaki's] monochromatic ink drawings with their fluid lines add powerful cinematic storytelling to [Mariko Tamaki's] minimalist text...Jillian's ability to catch the gestures and body language of the private school girls in their plaid skirts and knee socks equals Mariko's well-attuned ear for dialogue. The combination of words and images makes Skim a fully rounded and memorable character struggling with a welter of confused feelings...we feel for her...[Jillian Tamaki] has won several awards. It seems a sure bet that Skim will garner her a few more. (Calgary Herald 2008-03-07)

A gorgeous, poetic pen line and sharp dialogue bring this angsty story of a disaffected teenage girl to life. (Publishers Weekly 2008-11-01)

Jillian Tamaki's illustrations perfectly match the rough edges and continuous movement of Skim's teenage characters and reveal humour in the agonizing minutiae of high school life...Mariko Tamaki's text blends teen-speak with eloquence and wry one-liners...blending colloquialisms and sharp observations into something profound... (Toronto Star 2008-05-01)

No medium can capture the sense of being plunged into another person's mind like comics can, and Skim is the perfect example, its words and pictures and storytelling so unified in conjuring Kim's world that it comes as a surprise to see it has two creators rather than one...The careful layering of perception, desire, and reality is handled so deftly that the effect is almost subliminal...The Tamakis have done the hardest and most rewarding thing an artist can do: they have captured the texture of real life and made it into something beautiful. (Irish Times 2009-07-09)

Skim is a wonderful example of the potential of graphic novels to be both gripping and heartbreaking, proving their ability to act as social commentary on issues such as race, gender and sexuality amidst the callous backdrop of high school. This first collaboration proves that Mariko and Jillian Tamaki undoubtedly have the potential to mould the future of graphic novels, providing young women with thought-provoking and visually pleasing fiction. (rabble.ca 2008-03-01)

Stunningly drawn, [Skim] brilliantly charts the deep and sometimes desperate conflicts and moods that prevail in teen years...Easily accessible, it gives a sympathetic and realistic view of adolescence. (Julia Eccleshare LoveReading4Kids.co.uk 2009-07-09)

The Tamaki cousins in their first graphic novel take a huge fistful of high school story trappings and distill a beautiful and funny time capsule of real feeling... Skim is a refreshing reminder of the inevitability of change and the importance of looking beneath the surface. (VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) 2008-06-08)

The tricky part with graphic novels is getting the story to be as good as the drawings, and [the Tamakis] have figured out a winning combination for sure. The story is riveting and will bring you right back to 11th grade angst within the first few pages. Jillian Tamaki has an especially expressive, loose style that lends itself beautifully to this slightly morose tale. (Bust 2008-03-01)

This stunning coming-of-age novel will draw in not only GN buffs, who will appreciate the creative design and dramatic use of both illustration and narration, but also realistic-fiction fans who may not normally gravitate to the format but will find this a sympathetic standout. (Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 2008-05-08)

Writer Mariko Tamaki and artist Jillian Tamaki stunningly entwine their acute dialogues and visual riches in brush, soft pencil and grey tones, illuminating this adolescent romance in all its conflicted depths. [Skim is the] most sophisticated and sensitive North American graphic novel debut of the year. (Paul Gravett 2009-07-09)

A quietly moving graphic novel...sharply witty and incisive...Long, languid lines portray Skim's turmoil and angst with pitch-perfect resonance...Recommend this to fans of Daniel Clowes's Ghost World, who have been waiting for another graphic novel of teen angst and suburban ennui. (Kirkus Reviews 2008-02-15)

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast! Sept. 4 2011
By Lindsay
Format:Paperback
This book came right away and was in new condition. I think it had a rough go during delivery though because it looked like it may have been beaten up. BEtter packaging for next time would be appreciated!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gorgeous, sophisticated, and deeply truthful Sept. 1 2009
By NYC Reader - Published on Amazon.com
SKIM is gorgeous. Canadian cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki are to be praised for such smart, sensitive, sophisticated treatment of unyielding material. Coaxing a suspenseful, surprising, hopeful narrative out of the anti-narrative horror of high school is no easy feat, but coaxing one out that remains true to the recursive slowness of the experience, the smothering isolation of it-- AND leaves you cheering for the heroine in the end-- is all the more impressive.

The Tamakis explore the complex experience of their heroine, Kim Keiko Cameron, by tapping the full potential of graphic novels to offer the reader multiple channels through which to take in information. The verbal line of the novel, with two magnificent exceptions, is the reader's primary guide through the lesbian strand of Kim's experience, while the visual line, with one heartbreaking flashback, is the primary medium through which Kim's Japanese-Canadian heritage is given witness: her mother breaking noodles, her father's thing for Asian women.

Most arresting, visually, is Jillian Tamaki's choice to give Kim the face of a traditional Japanese beauty. Short eyebrow-smudges high on the forehead and long loose hair, along with a small mouth, very rounded cheeks, and a low-placed nose are all markers used to indicate Heian-era female beauty from Tosa's TALE OF GENJI illustrations to Noh Ko-omote masks to traditional Otafuku and Benten imagery. What's canny, and oh-so-true to the tenth grade experience, is that Tamaki takes this marked-as-beautiful face and places it in a context-- an almost entirely white Canadian girls' private high school-- that completely invalidates its beauty.

Among the many riches SKIM has to offer is the chance to witness Kim's coming-of-age as a critic, which is inextricably bound up with her coming into her own as a lesbian. When Kim discovers for herself (and a lame date) precisely what strikes her as inadequate about ROMEO AND JULIET, in a way that both emerges organically from and radically illuminates the whole story we've been reading, it's a moment of breathtaking mastery on Mariko Tamaki's part.

Brava to Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, and here's looking forward to more from each and both of them.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Skim: Perfection in Storytelling and Art May 20 2010
By D. Sorel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Skim is a graphic novel that centers around the main character whose nickname is Skim. Skim is an overweight, Japanese-Canadian, gothic, Wiccan, and high school social outcast. However, none of these descriptions are actually truthgul. As the reader becomes familiar with Skim, he/she soon discovers that she is just another misunderstood high school student who is trying to find her niche will still retaining some of her identity. The plot begins to roll when the boyfriend of the most popular girl at school commits suicide and the other popular girls decide to create various vigils and clubs in honor of this boy that none of them actually knew. Skim sees through the popular girls' false sorrow and realizes that this boy's death is just an excuse for the popular girls to alienate others and draw attention to themselves. However, this death eventually created tension and forever changes Skim's relationship with her best friend. In hopes of finding help and guidance, Skim reaches out to her English teacher with whom she falls in love. Instead of finding solace in this relationship, she only becomes more confused about herself. Companionship and understanding comes in the most surprising of places: the girlfriend of the boy who committed suicide. Skim notices that the girl is actually suffering and yet her popular friends are doing nothing to come to her aid. An unspoken kinship is fostered between the two girls as they both struggle with trying to fit into their own skin.

The art in this graphic novel is exceptional. The detail is incredibly intricate and should be examined with as much interest as the text. Many of the drawings are not contained in boxes as other graphic novels and comics have used. Instead, pictures flow over the pages and blend into one another. It is possibly some of the most beautiful art that has ever been published in a graphic novel. Jillian Tamaki, the cousin of the author, is able to create unbelievable tones and depth to the gray sketches that remind the reader of Japanese watercolors.

This is an exceptional book. Lover's of graphic novels and traditional novels alike will find something beautiful and touching in this story. Skim is a wonderful character who is incredibly insightful while also being humorous and honest. Though the plot is simplistic and revolves around an event that most people have experienced while in high school, it is its everyday-ness that is so charming and at times compelling.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful , honest and stirring story of youth and transition Oct. 25 2009
By Benstarbuck - Published on Amazon.com
this book is so good at what it sets out to say and show that i hesitate to describe it for fear of underselling it's attributes . the editorial reviews found above as well as some of the excellent customer reviews here might prompt you to aquire this outstanding "graphic novel" . that's the goal . for mature teens and adults .
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lovely and unusual Jan. 26 2011
By datura2002 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This graphic novel was praised almost universally in reviews, and but has still remained somewhat under the radar of the public.

Both the story and the drawing style are unusual and lovely. It's a story is set in the emotional world of a young schoolgirl. Like many bildungsromans, it is full of yearning and searching, but instead of being angsty or funny, it is poetic and kaleidoscopic, a snowglobe-like window into her changing world. I haven't seen anything else quite like it, and I've read a lot of graphic novels and comics.

Fans of Persepolis, Fun Home, or Maus would particularly appreciate it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book understands the peace and melancholy only appreciated by outsiders March 20 2011
By C. Bialik - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is one graphic novel that I can spend a long time reading. I keep coming back to it, not only to enjoy the artwork, but also to enjoy Skim's company. This story is very truthful, and unique in that it touches on what it means to be young, without being a cliched story about growing up.
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