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We love to celebrate all things comics and pop culture, so we asked staff to tell us not their favorite superheroes, but everyday heroes – the regular people who are often behind the scenes but a crucial part of something big.

Book River
Book River Items

A Revolution in Three Acts : the Radical Vaudeville of Bert Williams, Eva Tanguay, and Julian Eltinge (2021)

by David Hajdu

Sometimes it is an act of heroism simply to be one's true self, unapologetically and take risks. Such is the case of the three vaudeville stars featured here. Long before representation and authenticity were part of the cultural conversation, Bert Williams, a Black man forced to perform in blackface who challenged stereotypes, Eva Tanguay, an entertainer who flouted the rules and redefined womanhood for the modern age, and Julian Eltinge, a female impersonator who entranced and unnerved audiences by embodying the feminine ideal, did just that. They became three of the most provocative and popular performers in vaudeville, and influenced American popular culture forever. Their stories are deftly told and beautifully illustrated in this timely and relevant graphic novel. — Emily Vinci, Fiction Manager


Fighter in Velvet Gloves : Alaska Civil Rights Hero Elizabeth Peratrovich (2019)

by Annie Boochever

This is the story of Alaska Native Tlingit, Elizabeth Peratrovich, who advocated for the passage of Alaska's Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, the first anti-discrimination law in the United States. — Allison Riggs, Teen Librarian


El Deafo (2014)

by Cece Bell

El Deafo by Cece Bell is a graphic novel memoir about the author’s elementary school experiences as the only hearing-impaired child in her new school. It is realistic and funny as the author copes with being different and trying to make friends. She decides she is like a superhero and her hearing aid gives her superpowers. She is “El Deafo,” confronting anything that comes her way!  — Gail Tobin, Hanover Park Branch Manager


The Nine : the True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany (2021)

by Gwen Strauss

The harrowing, deeply compelling, previously untold WWII story of nine female French Resistance fighters who banded together to survive the camps and ultimately escaped from a final death march across war-torn Germany.  — Magan Szwarek, Reference Services Director

Supernormal : the Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience (2017)

by Meg Jay

Drawing from real-life experiences from her clients to public figures, as well as hundreds of studies from researchers, clinical psychologist Jay explores the many types of adversity one may be subjected to in childhood. From these examples, she gathers insight into how certain individuals have successfully adapted throughout life. A well-researched, abundantly documented, readable work of social science. — Magan Szwarek, Reference Services Director


The Only Woman in the Room (2019)

by Marie Benedict

This work of historical fiction is based on the incredible true story of the actress and glamour icon – and scientist – Hedy Lamarr, whose groundbreaking invention revolutionized modern communication.  — Emily Vinci, Fiction Manager


Cool Runnings (1999)

by Walt Disney Pictures

I always loved this movie based on the Jamaican bobsled team's Olympic journey. The characters' perseverance and work ethic are heroic. — Allison Bies, Fiction Librarian

Rocky (2004)

by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Sylvester Stallone, a small time boxer, gets the chance of a lifetime to fight the heavyweight champion. One of the best "underdog turns local hero" movies ever! It motivates and promotes survival, courage and strength through challenges and hardship. — Janet Glatzhofer, Information Desk Assistant


Hidden Figures (2017)

by Inc Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

An exceptional film about a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in the U.S. space program. This inspirational, heartwarming tale illustrates their perseverance, strength and triumph in the face of adversity. — Janet Glatzhofer, Information Desk Assistant


Mulan (2004)

by Walt Disney Home Entertainment

This animated Disney tale of a local maiden, Mulan, who secretly joins the army in her father's place to save him from death. A motivating, fictional, inspirational film combined with Eddie Murphy's humor depicts Mulan's pride and honor as she struggles through challenges until she comes out victorious. — Janet Glatzhofer, Information Desk Assistant