Hello, Calhoun! For those of you who haven’t had to talk to me yet about course books or summer reading: My name is Camilla, and I’ll be serving as your librarian for the upcoming school year.
Things may be different this year, but one of my most important jobs as a librarian remains the same: To recommend entertaining media for you to enjoy. And that’s why I’m going to tell you that if you haven’t already done so, you should consider diving into Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Avatar (often abbreviated as ATLA to avoid confusing it with the James Cameron movie about blue aliens) is an animated fantasy show that originally aired on Nickelodeon in 2005. Set in a world where some people can manipulate one of the four elements – water, earth, fire, or air – the series focuses on Aang, a twelve-year-old boy who is the latest incarnation of the Avatar, a bridge to the Spirit World and the only person who can bend all four elements. Aang finds himself in a world unbalanced as the Fire Nation fights for total control, and it’s up to him and his friends to save all four nations before it’s too late. While Aang’s journey to become a fully realized Avatar drives the story, every one of his friends has an important role to play and their own journeys to go on over the show’s three seasons. The series has been praised for its engaging storytelling, rich narrative, complex characters, and the fantastic world it inhabits.
It’s likely that I’m not the first person to tell you about ATLA – Since the original series ended, there’s also been a sequel show called Avatar: The Legend of Korra, a ton of comic books, and a YA novel series about a previous Avatar named Kyoshi. That’s a lot of different ways to engage with one creative universe! Both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are now available on Netflix, causing a fresh explosion of enthusiasm for this classic series. The many graphic novels – from such iconic writers and illustrators as Gene Luen Yang, Faith Erin Hicks, and Studio Gurihiru – are official continuations of the series that dive into the aftermath of the first show, and provide answers for a number of lingering questions. These comics are just as rich and nuanced as the original material, and they’re a great way to jump even deeper into the incredible world ATLA creates (plus they’ve got everything from memory-stealing spirits to a secret society of assassins, so you know you’re in for a good time).
Do you like to laugh? Do you like weird animals? Have you ever wished you could fly or shoot fire out of your hands? Did you already read and love the Avatar comics at the Library? Would you like to see what kind of chaos a group of unattended 12- to 16-year-olds with elemental powers can manage to unleash as they travel around the whole world on a flying bison with six legs? Do you hate cabbages? If you said yes to even one of these questions, then make some time for the Avatar universe this fall!