An Incredible Graphic Memoir

Illustrator/authorRuth McNally Barshaw introduced me to the work of David Small at the Society of Children’s book Writers and Illustrators regional conference 2011. David Small’s story Stitches is about a 14 year old boy who goes to the hospital for a “harmless operation. ” He awakes with a long scar on his neck created from the removal of his vocal cord. After snooping around, he later finds out, it is because he had cancer and that he was not expected to live.

Later, he discovers it is his father that has given him the cancer. His father was a radiologist and thought that massive doses of radiology would help with a sinus infection.

This horrific tale is not a story; it is a graphic memoir of the author David Small. I have not read the book yet; it is, however, ordered. Small’s graphic black and white scenes strike me. the story telling from a man who, later in life, finds healing through the telling of his story.

Anyone who has had childhood difficulties, trauma, etc should watch these videos and put the book on their reading list. It is important to note that healing from these things, can often be extremely hard, and as you go through it, you feel restimulated. Small talks about drawing his mother,

“I think the worst thing, the worst part was when I started drawing things out, they really got worse for me… when I began to draw, especially my mother, when I saw her face on the page…. It was if she was with me again… I began to get very, very anxious. When I brought her back to life….”

I’m astounded with the emotion found in the story and the drawings. I’m drawn to it as I work on my own novel. I am trying desperately to think and feel as a 15 year old boy who feels he is betrayed. Small says, “teenagers are feeling like they are not being told everything about the adult world, that there is a deep hypocrisy, that they are desperate to know about.“

Here are a few videos–the last being an interview with the author/illustrator. I’m thankful to be introduced to the young adult literature and images of David Small. I wonder how it will help form my own character in my novel, and I’m interested in hearing other’s thoughts on the book Stitches and the author.


Bridgette Mongeon
Sculptor, Writer and Speaker

Bridgette Mongeon is a sculptor, writer, illustrator and educator as well as a public speaker.

Her blog can be found at

She is also the owner and creator of the God’s Word Collectible Sculpture series

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