Archive for the ‘Graphic Novel’ Category

Review of Swing It, Sunny, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Swing It, Sunny

by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
with color by Lark Pien

Graphix (Scholastic), 2017. 220 pages.

This graphic novel is a pleasant sequel to Sunny Side Up. Sunny’s now starting middle school, which is tough, but most of the tension in the book comes from the difficulty of adjusting to her older brother being sent away to boarding school. When he comes home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the whole house is full of tension.

The story’s set in 1976, which was when I was in eighth grade myself. So I especially enjoyed the seventies’ touches such as Pet Rocks, seventies’ décor, and TV shows like The Six Million Dollar Man. The authors keep a light touch, mixing fun diversions – like a new next-door neighbor teaching Sunny how to swing a flag – with worries about her brother.

You’ll enjoy it a little bit more if you read the first book, since you’ll appreciate Sunny’s interaction with Gramps and her fondness for the alligator Big Al. But even without that, you’ll still have fun with this book.

It all adds up to a truly delightful and hopeful graphic novel.

scholastic.com/graphix

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Piper, by Jay Asher & Jessica Freeburg, illustrated by Jeff Stokely

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Piper

by Jay Asher & Jessica Freeburg
illustrated by Jeff Stokely

Razorbill (Penguin Random House), 2017. 144 pages.
Starred Review

This gorgeous graphic novel turns the story of the Pied Piper of Hameln into a tragic romance.

It’s also a story of prejudice and greed – but with love rising above that. And we find out that the real story isn’t the one we’ve heard.

This version of the story features a deaf teen girl named Maggie who lives in Hameln with an old woman, something of an outcast. She can read lips and talks with the piper, a handsome teen himself. She learns his story, as no one else does.

Maggie enjoys writing stories with her caretaker, an old woman named Agathe. She writes the stories of the villagers the way they should be told.

Did the villagers deserve what they got from the Piper? What if the revenge the Piper took was different than the story we’ve heard?

This book is a quick read but a haunting and poignant tale. The ending especially will surprise you.

PenguinTeen.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Bass Reeves, Tales of the Talented Tenth, No. 1, by Joel Christian Gill

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Tales of the Talented Tenth, No. 1
The True Story of Bass Reeves,
The Most Successful Lawman in the Old West!

Black History in Action
True Adventures of Amazing African Americans

words and pictures by Joel Christian Gill

Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, CO, 2014. 126 pages.
Starred Review

Tales of the Talented Tenth is a series of graphic novels about actual African Americans who did amazing things. The first in the series tells the true story of Bass Reeves, who was a sheriff in the old west and whose feats sound like a tall tale. I see this is a 2014 book, but it’s new to our library, and looks like a wonderful series.

The story’s told creatively, using flashbacks from when Bass learned to shoot when he was a child and a slave, paralleling a tight spot he got into later when chasing outlaws. The panels are varied, colorful and striking. This is an exciting story, and will catch anyone’s interest.

It’s a rip-roaring yarn, told with suspense and flair – and all the more amazing because it’s true.

fulcrum-education.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of All’s Faire in Middle School, by Victoria Jamieson

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

All’s Faire in Middle School

by Victoria Jamieson

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017. 248 pages.
Starred Review

This graphic novel is every bit as delightful as the author’s earlier one, Roller Girl. In fact, I liked it a little better, since I’m more familiar with Renaissance faires than I am with roller derby.

Imogene and her family have always been involved in the Florida Renaissance Faire all her life. Her father is an actor who plays the evil lord of the dragons, and her mother runs a craft store. Impy has always been homeschooled at the faire, along with her annoying little brother – but now she’s ready to go to middle school.

The middle school part of the story doesn’t have any big surprises – making friends and figuring out how to fit in, tough teachers, and eventually Impy has to face some not-very-nice things she does to please the so-called friends. All that makes a delightful parallel to the Renaissance faire, where Impy has a more responsible role this year as an actual cast member – her father’s squire.

Of course, the two worlds intersect when the leader of the mean girls has her birthday party at the Renaissance faire.

I’ve read other books about homeschooled kids adjusting to school, but this one’s a graphic novel, so it’s extra colorful (literally), and all the Renaissance faire parts make for great images.

And make no mistake about it, starting middle school is a whole lot like going on a quest and fighting dragons.

victoriajamieson.com
penguin.com/kids

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Ms Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Ms. Marvel, Volume 1

No Normal

by G. Willow Wilson
art by Adrian Alphona

Marvel Worldwide, 2015.

I normally don’t read graphic novels, let alone superhero graphic novels. I picked up this one because it was a Cybils Finalist.

And then, looking inside, I got hooked – this is the origin story of a superhero whose secret identity is a Muslim teenage girl! Her family’s from Pakistan and she lives in Jersey City and just wants a normal life. Her parents are on the protective side. They don’t want her to go to parties, let alone fight crime.

This first volume covers how she attains and tries to deal with polymorph powers. While trying to keep her parents happy and keep up with her schoolwork. But it’s her parents’ teachings that motivate her to do good when the opportunity presents itself. Little did they know it would mean she’d be fighting crime and rescuing people in danger!

There are more volumes in this series, and I probably won’t review them all. (But, yes, I want to read on.) But superhero comics have come a long way since I was a kid! Now even a brown-skinned Muslim girl can become a superhero! Wow!

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Baba Yaga’s Assistant, by Marika McCoola, illustrated by Emily Carroll

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

baba_yagas_assistant_largeBaba Yaga’s Assistant

by Marika McCoola
illustrated by Emily Carroll

Candlewick Press, 2015. 132 pages.
Starred Review
2015 Cybils Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels Finalist

This graphic novel is lots of fun. Masha is a modern teenage girl who has heard stories of Baba Yaga from her grandmother. Both Masha’s mother and grandmother cleverly escaped from her.

So when Masha’s father marries again and the new stepmother has a particularly bratty stepsister for Masha to babysit, Masha decides instead to answer an ad to be Baba Yaga’s assistant.

Masha has stories of Baba Yaga to guide her. She must enter Baba Yaga’s chicken-legged house, then pass three tests. But when the third test involves cooking three children for dinner, and one of those children is the naughty new stepsister – things take a turn.

I loved the way this book gives the fairy tale themes a modern twist. Such as when the stepsister throws down a washcloth in Baba Yaga’s bathroom and it begins to become a lake – so they almost drown.

Baba Yaga has a gory reputation, and despite her scary exterior, this book puts a light-hearted spin on things. Ultimately, this is the story of a clever girl finding her own way, while getting some healing for her heart.

candlewick.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Secret Coders, by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

secret_coders_largeSecret Coders

by Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes

First Second, 2015. 91 pages.
2016 Mathical Book Prize Winner (Grades 3-5)

This is a graphic novel that teaches counting in binary and basic coding – and manages not to stretch credibility too far.

Hopper has been transferred to Stately Academy, which her mother insists is the best school in town. But the school is distinctly creepy.

There are creepy birds flying around. When they see Hopper’s Number 7 earrings, they open three of their four eyes. Hopper’s new friend Eni notices that when they see the number 9s all over the school, the first and fourth eyes open. So of course – the birds are robots, using their four eyes to express in binary the numbers they see! (Hey, in a graphic novel this actually comes across as plausible.)

After the birds help them figure out the combination to a locked room, Hopper and Eni find a robot turtle next to a list of commands. When they read the commands, the robot carries them out.

Then another program makes the robot trace a hexagon and open a secret passage. There they find the creepy janitor who says he’ll reveal secrets of the school if they can code a more complicated path. They are about to become Secret Coders.

It’s a fun story – fitting in at a new school, solving puzzles, uncovering secrets – and it does teach binary and LOGO coding along the way. And it teaches those things in a visual and entertaining way.

More books are on the way! It will be fun to see where they go with this idea.

secret-coders.com
firstsecondbooks.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Sunny Side Up, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

sunny_side_up_largeSunny Side Up

by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

with color by Lark Pien

Scholastic, 2015. 218 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a graphic novel from the authors of the ever-popular Babymouse. This one’s a little more serious.

Set in August 1976, Sunny was looking forward to a family beach trip to finish off the summer – but instead she’s been sent to stay with her grandpa in Florida. Florida shouldn’t be so bad – It’s the home of Disneyworld! But Gramps lives in a retirement community. All his friends are as old as he is.

Fortunately, there’s one other kid at the retirement community, the son of the groundskeeper. He and Sunny start hanging out, doing things like finding lost cats and missing golf balls. But even better, he introduces Sunny to comic books.

But meanwhile, Sunny’s remembering back to things that happened before she left home. Her older brother used to be a whole lot of fun, but he had been changing recently. Sunny tried to help – and it didn’t end well. Is it her own fault she got sent away to Florida?

This is a fun and gentle story that lightly touches the issue of a family member with substance abuse. Mostly it’s about a kid learning to have a lovely summer even in a retirement community. Sunny is a protagonist you can’t help but love.

jenniferholm.com
matthewholm.net
larkpien.blogspot.com
scholastic.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

roller_girl_largeRoller Girl

by Victoria Jamieson

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015. 240 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Newbery Honor
2015 Cybils Award Winner, Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels

I don’t get around to reading a lot of graphic novels, so I only got to this one after it got Newbery and Cybils attention, and I’m so glad I did.

This graphic novel reminds me of the wildly popular Smile by Raina Telgemeier — It’s got a similar artistic style and is also about a girl in middle school navigating friendships.

Roller Girl, unlike Smile, is fiction, but it’s got the feel of memoir, with a picture of the author on the back flap in her roller derby gear. It certainly could happen.

Besides being in so-accessible graphic novel form, Roller Girl tells how Astrid gets involved in roller derby, a sport I certainly didn’t know anything about.

Astrid’s best friend Nicole, though, isn’t interested. She wants to go to dance camp this summer, when Astrid signs up for roller camp. And Nicole has a new friend, who is as excited about ballet as she is, but who has no use for Astrid.

At roller camp, Astrid is a total beginner and feels like the only one who doesn’t know this stuff. She works hard, but keeps falling. And working hard at roller derby is painful!

Then Astrid feels like she blows it even with the new friend she’s made at roller camp. Is she just no good at being a friend?

This graphic novel is delightful. Astrid’s spirit — lots of falling, and yes, some grumbling, but she gets right back up — will win the reader over quickly. Mind you, she doesn’t make me want to be a roller girl, but she has me totally on her side, cheering for her.

Roller derby — and putting on a “warface” — is also an interesting way to work out anger with a friend. I’m not sure if it’s a healthy way, but it’s definitely entertaining! Though, mind you, Astrid does a good job in the book of facing interpersonal problems (with some stumbles along the way).

I have a feeling once a few kids find this book, word is going to spread like wildfire.

victoriajamieson.com
penguin.com/youngreaders

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Lost in NYC, by Nadja Spiegelman & Sergio Garcia Sanchez

Friday, July 17th, 2015

lost_in_nyc_largeLost in NYC

A Subway Adventure

by Nadja Spiegelman & Sergio Garcia Sanchez

Toon Graphics, 2015. 49 pages.

Here’s a story that makes the most of the graphic novel format and throws in plenty of facts – even historic photographs – about New York City and the subway system.

Pablo’s first day of school in New York City happens to be the same day his class is going on a field trip, riding the subways, to the Empire State Building. Alicia helpfully offers to be his partner, but he is wary of making friends, since his family moves so often.

With Pablo’s inexperience, Alicia and he get separated from the class, and then Pablo gets separated from Alicia. However, Pablo knows where they’re going and asks for directions. Alicia uses her knowledge of the city to walk to the Empire State Building, and the class rides the subway. The graphic novel is perfect for showing how the three different groups take three different routes.

Along the way and in the back of the book, we get the history of the subway and facts about New York City.

And we’re told about another nice touch at the back. When the illustrator, Sergio Garcia Sanchez, was researching in preparation for drawing pictures of the subway stations, he took lots of pictures, and then noticed a policeman keeping a wary eye on him. So on almost every spread of the book, he included himself taking pictures and being followed by a cop. And of course once the reader finds that out, you go back to spot Sergio and the Cop in every crowded subway spread.

Even though this is a story about getting lost, I think the happy ending will help kids approach something potentially daunting – like riding a subway – without fear and with confidence.

toon-books.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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