Tag Archives: ben hatke

Sometimes one trick is all you need

nathan hale one trick ponyStrata is not a rule follower.  She and her buddies have gotten away from their Mad Max-ish caravan and are looking for treasures.  Probably they shouldn’t be doing this, because the Pipers (evil, energy-seeking aliens) are close enough that—oops!–Strata and her friends might uncover something that would attract them.

But there’s a pony!  And Kleidi (the pony) is a neat twist on the cliché of girls and ponies, because Kleidi is a robot, a fast and clever robot. Kleidi can also stop really fast and hard.

Along the way, we learn about the dystopian homeland that the Earth has become, and how humans have adapted and yet are still losing against aliens who see them and their planet simply as food and minerals.  It’s nothing like Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales about moments in U.S. history, and yet the storytelling and art are equally perfect for the topic.

Pick up Zita the Spacegirl  (Ben Hatke) and you’ve got an excellent double feature for a rainy afternoon of reading.

one Trick Pony by Nathan Hale

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Stop already, Ben Hatke!

mighty-jackMaybe it’s opposite day at my house.  Perhaps I am feeling just a little edgy.  (Ha!  Me, edgy?  Ha!  Maybe I’ll put on my orange cardie and do the hustle.  That would really stir things up.) Ah well, I promise I’ll keep myself in check for the rest of this post, because, really, with Mighty Jack, Ben Hatke has become one of my go-to graphics-for-kids people.  I might have loved everything about Zita the Spacegirl and Little Robot, but now we’ve moved into that space where I feel like he’s so good and reliably funny and interesting that I can recommend everything he does.  It’s a special place, Ben Hatke.  Don’t abuse your power.

Mighty Jack starts with what seems like a bad deal – giving up a car instead of a Jack-and-the-Beanstalk cow – but Jack’s sister and the neighbor girl, Lilly, add to the story and help keep things moving along.  Jack’s sister does not speak, but she has strong opinions, and while Jack is sometimes frustrated by having to watch her, he obviously loves her and wants to protect her.  There are magic seeds, an overworked mother with limited income, and bizarrely huge (and aggressive) plants.  Throw in some swordplay and a monster, and we’re off!

I may just be too accustomed to binge-watching (or maybe I just really liked this one), but I wish we could have gotten the whole trilogy at once.  We’re left without a resolution, with Jack and Lilly leaping through a door.  Where will Jack and Lilly end up?  Is Maddy safe?  Don’t make us wait too long, Ben Hatke.  We are a fickle crowd out here.  Or maybe not.  But still, don’t make us wait.

Mighty Jack, Book 1, Ben Hatke

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More graphics for kids = more fun!

little robotLast spring I made a book list for the 5th grade class I visit. It was full of comics and graphic novels; some of the kids already knew about most of them. Smile, Zita the Spacegirl, Sisters, Babymouse, Squish and Amulet are so popular that the school library can only keep them long enough to check them in. I just blogged about Awkward not long ago, and I’m always excited when I come across new graphic novels for kids. Just last week, I found two more: March: Grand Prix, The Fast and the Furious by Kean Soo and Little Robot by Ben Hatke.

Worried about kids not reading enough? There’s plenty to love in all books as far as I’m concerned. Weak readers often need more practice, but in my experience forcing any kid to read anything usually does not make them love it, and if you don’t love reading, why do it with all of the other distractions out there?

Maybe the kid who likes Amulet can be encouraged to read some fantasy eventually. Maybe the kid who loves Big Nate will eventually take on The Wimpy Kid or some Andrew Clements and then The Fourth Stall. Zita the Spacegirl could lead to The Search for Wondla. The kid who likes Sidekicks could move on to Powerless. There are so many possibilities out there, and we really just want kids to read, right? Why not have fun while doing it?

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