Santat does an incredible job of illustrating the awkwardness and joy of being a teenager. This story is both sweet and funny and belongs in every library!
This is such a well done graphic novel memoir! I think kids will enjoy it and there's a lot of difference between the 80s and now but the story is told in an approachable way.
Loved the art, the story, and anything Santat does! It might be a little old for my elementary library so I will wait for a final copy to come out so I can see before purchasing.
Love the art, love the characters, love the travelogue extras at the end. Reminds me of my own travels during school and how much of an impact being somewhere out of the norm had on me.
Looking through my years of reading Dan Santat‘s books, I realize that every single one of them I have rated five stars. This does not break that streak. This book was fantastic. It was a love story. It was an adventure story. It was a story about finding yourself. And Dan does that all through an autobiography in graphic format about going to Europe for the first time while in middle school. There is so much heart and love in this book and that Dan added the pictures at the end and the envelopes with Amy with the letters going back-and-forth… It was just perfect. You come away from this book with a smile on your face, just wanting more and going man is this author good. He can tell a story not just to keep kids entertained and interested but to keep adults entertained and interested as well. This author already has a Caldecott Medal now he’s going for Newbery, and I hope he gets it.
A First Time for Everything was a perfect graphic novel combining excellent characters, humour, and a heart warming story. My 12 year old read it in an hour and really loved it. Perfect for quirky nerdy kids who feel a little bit lost in the world of middle school.
I enjoyed A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat. The details within the panels are gorgeous and the sincerity of the story was heartwarming. I believe that middle schoolers (and maybe even early high schoolers) will find this story relatable; Dan's exploration of confidence and self discovery as this new experience helps him start to feel comfortable in his own skin, and I believe this story can be very encouraging to the target population.
Dan Santat is a master story teller, but we knew that from his picture books. In this book, he tackles the story of his first trip abroad, first loves, and adventures. I read this on the heels of School Trip and it covered some similar territory regarding race and how one is treated abroad, but it also handles the awkward time of growing up from middle school to high school beautifully. Dan manages to convey how he starts out as shy kid to taking chances and making new friends. It was such a fun trip and it was a trip I wish didn't end. Alas, that's what trips eventually do. They end. The bonus material talking about how this was based on a real trip was fun and it was fun of him to poke at how he's a Gen X and this was all before cell phones. Students who feel unseen and unrecognized will find themselves in this work.
Dan Santat's first graphic memoir covers the summer between middle school and high school when he went on a trip to Europe and had his first love. All his lovely illustration techniques are on display here. His storytelling prowess can be seen in how invested I was in every character, despite this being a true story. The humor and wit come through with easy dialog and amazing facial expressions, a staple of his award-winning art style.
I love memoirs that take place during a specific time, especially a time that I was around for. It brings back my memories of my youth and what I remember of "the world back then". I wasn't quite the age of the author during the time period he is discussing and I never went to Europe for a school trip as a teen, but the problems he faces are universal and the time frame is close enough to when I was that age that I have the same cultural memory and understanding.
The art was bright and cheerful and got the thoughts and memories across perfectly. I loved the coming of age aspect and that it shows how he had grown by the end of his trip. I also loved that he gave an explanation of what was changed for dramatic effect and how he talked to others who also went on that trip to get their POV as well to enhance and help his memory. He also goes into why he started the book, his kids asked him about his first love, which lead to this trip, which was about a LOT of firsts for him. (SOOOO SWEET!!!)
This is a very cute and interesting bit of modern history-in-amber book and I am SOOOO glad that I read this one. I am REALLY liking this new (to me maybe, but I think it's more prevalent now) trend of graphic novel memoirs. I love how sometimes, the art can get across what just words can't. The scene with the bike was tense and the art really drove the feelings home.
I highly recommend this book, though he DOES get up to some actions that would not fly, well, I HOPE they wouldn't fly, for today's children. But that could just be me with rose colored glasses on, thinking the world is all hunky-dory...sigh. So the age would be maybe higher middle grade on up? Depends on the kids and as always, I advise the adults of those children vet the book first before handing to said child. You know best what they can and can't handle, and it's a good way to start discussions on certain topics.
5, this was awesome and I highly recommend it, stars.
My thanks to NetGalley and First Second Books for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.
I loved this memoir, and would have read it in prose without pictures, or enjoyed it as an audiobook as well. Graphic novel form just took the story to a new level. Dan Santat has long been one of my favorite illustrators, and his thoughtful memoir of a formative time in his life was so engaging, I hope he writes more!
As another reviewer pointed out, this is a great Tween/Teen memoir because Dan and his friends are 14 years old and experiencing freedom and a new culture all together. It's been such a trend in YA books to have a narrator that is 18 and nearly an adult. However this isn't relatable for young teens. Dan was not only a young teen, but he was a bit of a late bloomer and was able to find his place among friends halfway across the world. I loved watching him grow and experience so many firsts.
I highly recommend this for any school librarian or public library!
I love Dan Santat but I wasn’t sure what to expect from the first full length graphic novel from him, about him! It was really great. I really felt like I was traveling with his younger self in the 80s.
What a phenomenally well done book! While we weren't all necessarily allowed to run around Europe without adult supervision as children, we can all understand the specific awkwardness of being this age and trying to navigate crushes and a social life. Santat hits it out of the park with this one.
This graphic novel memoir tells the story of Dan Santat’s trip to Europe when he was in middle school. Like the title leads you to assume, this trip is a time of a lot of firsts for Dan, so we get to explore Europe and Dan’s feelings throughout this book. Dan’s art does not disappoint, and we also learn a bit about his childhood art.
How fabulous! This is one a of the best middle-grades books I've read in a long time. Santat's artwork is, as usual, great, and I loved the story and how Santat reflected his emotions. I have bought a copy for my library and will actively pass it out to readers!
Just to be clear, I am a HUGE fan of Dan Santat and his work. I love his artistic style and the characters he creates for children and could happily expound on all things written and/illustrated by him for hours. Now that that’s out of the way…
I absolutely ADORED this book. Reading about his experiences and ah-ha moments - the heartwarming and heartbreaking - that came from this trip help show the reader that it is okay to be vulnerable and that it is all right to be afraid of what is going to happen next. It tells us that we can’t let the fear of the unknown stop us from living today.
The memoir also focuses heavily on the effects that bullying had on Dan’s younger self. There are flashbacks throughout the memoir to times when he was bullied and how he felt when it happened and how it is still affecting his decisions and feelings years later. No matter how the saying goes, words CAN hurt people and they can have a profound impact on who they become.
I HIGHLY recommend this memoir and will definitely be purchasing it for my library.
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I LOVED this graphic memoir. Brought back lots of those angsty middle school feeling but with a lot of humor. A study abroad trip to be remembered and a great lesson to be learned “don’t be afraid of the unexpected”. Makes you think, you never know what you may miss if you don’t step out of your comfort zone and try. Dan would never have had the amazing time he did on his study abroad trip if he didn’t take that step into the unexpected: first kiss, first new friends from other countries, first time learning new cultures and languages, first love. I liked how he reflected on the lack of technology we had in the 80s…it didn’t stop us from having a great time. I loved the use of the different Fanta flavors to mark the chapters and the music! Definitely scan that QR code…leads you to an amazing Spotify playlist. Thanks for an amazing trip down memory lane!
Dan Santat's GN autobiography provides a slice of his life during his 1989 middle school trip to Europe. Without being “preachy”, several points are made, the most obvious being there's a first time for everything whether it be the first plane ride or cup of coffee, or things that test boundaries, like smoking, stealing a bike, sneaking into Wimbledon, or the stages of first love. The present day events are in full color, but blue and grey flashbacks provide painful memories which have caused Dan to often try to be invisible. This highlights Ms. Bjork's mantra, that pain and joy are part of life, and it shapes the person you become. Love the use of Fanta soda flavors to begin each chapter. Highly recommend.
Thank you to First Second Books and NetGalley for the digital arc.
Dan Santat’s graphic memoir is about a summer trip to Europe during middle school. His coming of age story explores bravery, friendship, and becoming who he wants to be. Many tweens and teens will relate to his feelings of first love and using his creativity to relate to others. The illustrations have so much energy and expression with an expert use of pacing.
Reading Dan’s story was so much fun! I absolutely love graphic novels about real world experiences, especially when it’s about a pivotal moment/time that is life changing for the main character, and we get to feel all the feelings with him. It’s an amazing story too, I actually felt myself wishing I had this opportunity myself lol.
The book is all about Dan’s post middle school/pre high school trip to Europe. I had no idea such a thing was even possible to be honest! Not only did it really happen, but all the kids on the trip had insane amounts of freedom that I kept wondering, “is this true?? Did this part actually happen?” (Fake) Spoiler alert: it did haha! And I’m so glad the author clarifies that in the epilogue, as well as explains how some events were changed a bit to better serve the story because even as an adult I was like wow, why am I not this lucky lol! I like kids being able to be inspired by the story but also want them to be able to learn how stories, even “based on a true story” ones, can have some editing and help from the author for it to allow the full magical feels. But seriously, I cannot believe he and the other 13 year olds got to do all of the stuff they did in 1989, or that they even had an almost month long trip across Europe like this! Blows my mind lol, but Dan does later explain how different the world was then for his generation, and I can only imagine what my own child’s thoughts will be when I someday describe my own pre-9/11 childhood lol.
The book is about Dan and his small world of the only little town he knew up till that point, how middle school had shaken his sense of self and confidence (like it does for everyone), and how a trip of a lifetime changed all that for him. Getting to see the world in a bigger perspective allowed him to grow more than he ever could know was possible. It’s a story about finding yourself through travel, and giving yourself permission to take a chance and “live a little”. As an introvert it’s a message that still resonates and that I take to heart. Plus the illustrations are beautiful, so this is hands down one of my new favorite graphic novels. I’m definitely gonna buy myself a physical copy for my personal library!