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On a sunbeam
2018
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“Tillie Walden is the future of comics, and On a Sunbeam is her best work yet. It’s a ‘space’ story unlike any you’ve ever read, with a rich, lived-in universe of complex characters.” —Brian K. Vaughan, Saga and Paper Girls

Two timelines. Second chances. One love.

A ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together.

Two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love—only to learn the pain of loss.

With interwoven timelines and stunning art, award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden creates an inventive world, breathtaking romance, and an epic quest for love.

LA Times Festival of Books 2018 Book Prize Winner, Graphic Novel/Comics
A Publisher's Weekly Best Book of 2018
One of The Washington Post's "10 Best Graphic Novels of 2018"
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2018
A YALSA Top Ten Great Graphic Novel
A 2019 Hugo Award Nominee, Best Graphic Story
A Harvey Award Nominee, Book of the Year
A Harvey Award Nominee, Best Children's or Young Adult Book

- (McMillan Palgrave)

An epic graphic novel about a girl who travels to the ends of the universe to find a long lost love, from acclaimed author Tillie Walden. - (McMillan Palgrave)

Author Biography

Tillie Walden is a cartoonist and illustrator from Austin, Texas. Born in 1996, she is a graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont. Over the course of her time at CCS she published three books with the London based Avery Hill Publishing. Her graphic novels with First Second include her autobiographical work Spinning and the sci-fi epic On a Sunbeam. She is a two-time Eisner nominee and Ignatz Award winner who now lives in Los Angeles. When she is not drawing comics, Tillie can be found walking and listening to audiobooks or asleep with a cat. - (McMillan Palgrave)

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Trade Reviews

Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* When Mia joins a crew tasked with restoring abandoned space ruins, it's clear she's running from something. But between the hard work and the spirited characters of her shipmates, there's hardly time to dwell on it. Interspersed flashbacks of strong-willed Mia at her all-girls boarding school hint at her troubles—a burgeoning romance with her classmate Grace, sneaking into the gym to (disastrously) try flying a small ship—but it's not until she and her crewmates get a job restoring an ancient, strange temple that the pieces start coming together. Walden's (Spinning, 2017) swirling, atmospheric artwork is phenomenal: she plays with darkness and shadows in captivating ways perfectly in keeping with the light-poor space atmosphere, and swathes of luminous, saturated color only emphasize that darkness. There aren't many planets in the inky black, star-speckled backgrounds, but architectural structures float freely, and they're set together at weird, surprising angles, unconstrained by gravity. There's an organic, familiar quality to the spaces, with trees, rock formations, window seats, cathedral ceilings, and messy rooms, but the starry expanses outside every window are a stark reminder of their interstellar location. The sparking interplay between familiar and foreign is utterly mesmerizing, and the story carries that through as well: the sf components are inventive and compellingly strange, but the romance between Mia and Grace, not to mention the warm, teasing affection among Mia's crewmates, grounds the story in a heartening, recognizable place. A remarkable, stunning comic. Grades 8-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

This serial webcomic turned epic graphic novel follows two alternating, far-future timelines, each initially distinguished by a different limited palette. In the first, eighteen-year-old Mia seeks her place among the tight-knit crewmates of a spacecraft; five years earlier, at an intergalactic boarding school, Mia falls in love with new arrival Grace. Walden immerses readers in a uniquely imagined, compelling universe with a cast that's matter-of-factly female-centric, orientation-inclusive, and racially diverse. Copyright 2019 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

This serial webcomic turned epic graphic novel tells Mia and Grace's story in two alternating, far-future timelines, each initially distinguished by a different limited palette. In the first timeline, depicted in mostly purple tones, eighteen-year-old Mia tries to find her place among the tight-knit crewmates of a tiny spacecraft as they work to restore an abandoned space structure. In the second, set five years earlier at an intergalactic boarding school and shown in blues, Mia befriends mysterious new arrival Grace; the two girls fall deeply in love and are ultimately, traumatically separated by forces beyond their control. As connections between the narratives emerge, the palettes blend and expand into a full spectrum of sunset hues to portray the young women's emotionally and logistically high-stakes reunion on Grace's dangerous home planet. Walden immerses readers in a uniquely imagined and compelling sci-fi universe with a cast that's refreshingly and matter-of-factly female-centric, orientation-inclusive, and racially diverse. (A subplot about nonbinary crew member Elliot is also welcome.) But the inventive cosmology is almost incidental to the plot and development of the interpersonal relationships, which, as in Walden's graphic memoir Spinning (rev. 11/17), are rooted in the idea of not just finding but actively and consciously creating yourself, love, and your family. At over five hundred pages, this is a hefty but page-turning and profoundly moving read. katie bircher Copyright 2018 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

In this graphic novel/space adventure, a young woman discovers her place in a vast universe. After graduating from an all-girls boarding school, Mia, a light-skinned, black-haired girl, joins a reconstruction crew traveling through space to restore crumbling buildings with ancient and forgotten histories. She carries with her memories of Grace, the girl she fell in love with and lost during her freshman year of school. As Mia develops close bonds with her teammates, she learns they each have mysterious and complicated pasts of their own. Despite their differences, the strength of their love holds them together on a dangerous journey to the farthest reaches of space. A deep color palette of blues and purples with bursts of warm shades captures the setting. Walden's (Spinning, 2017, etc.) diverse cast of queer characters includes Char, a black woman who co-captains the reconstruction crew with her white wife, Alma; Mia's past love Grace (a black woman); and Elliot, a white nonb inary person who communicates nonverbally. While Mia's journey is central, every character experiences a moment of growth over the course of the narrative. The timeline alternates between Mia's memories depicting the progression of her relationship with Grace and the present. At times both gently romantic and heartbreaking, the story ultimately celebrates love and the importance of chosen family. An affirming love story full of intriguing characters and a suspenseful plot. (Science-fiction graphic novel. 13-adult) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this sprawling, wonderfully original space jaunt by Walden (Spinning), the depicted characters are all female or gender nonbinary, and the diverse protagonists inhabit cluttered and homey quarters aboard a fish-shaped starship. Teenage Mia joins the close-knit crew of the spaceship Aktis, who travel the galaxy restoring old buildings that float untethered in open space. Flashbacks chronicle Mia's freshman year at boarding school—bullies, sports, and all—and her doomed romance with the mysterious Grace. When Mia discovers her crewmates' unexpected connection to Grace, the crew embarks on a dangerous mission to a forbidden planet to find her. The exquisite art foregrounds simply lined characters against intricate architectural constructs, and Walden's distinctive layers of flat color create temporal cohesion and emphasize themes of memory and family. As Walden develops the relationships, and drops tantalizing hints about the vast universe this graphic novel inhabits, it becomes clear that the meandering, atmospheric journey—and the growth it affords each character—is the point. With a gratifying conclusion, this masterful blend of science fiction–inflected school drama, road trip, and adventure is nothing less than marvelous. Ages 12–up. Agent: Seth Fishman, the Gernert Company. (Oct.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 7 Up—Walden's meditative space epic will easily win the hearts of sci-fi and romance fans. Mia is the latest addition to a team of restorers, who are tasked with repairing abandoned structures across the galaxy. Though each member of the tight-knit crew is harboring a complicated past, it is wistful Mia who proves to be the linchpin of the plot. Walden treats readers to a stunning interpretation of interstellar life; fluid, fish-shaped ships, floating cathedral-like ruins, and giant celestial creatures add to the grandeur of the story, as do the enormously meaningful friendships and romances among the cast of women and nonbinary characters. The narrative is split into two time lines: one set in the present, colored in berry tones with swatches of orange and red, that follows Mia and the restoration crew; and one five years earlier, done in black, white, and shades of gray blue, where Mia, then a freshman at a boarding school, develops a swoon-worthy romance with new classmate Grace. Walden depicts them with warmth, often dedicating an entire wordless page to their embrace. The artwork, from expansive landscapes to cozy glimpses of the shipmates snuggled together watching TV, is a sight to behold. VERDICT Bound to be a sci-fi favorite, especially for teens who also appreciated Nina LaCour's We Are Okay.—Della Farrell, School Library Journal

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.

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