Tag Archives: graphic novels

epic kid graphic wonderfulness

bolivar-9781684150694_lgBolivar is an epic picture book and a masterful children’s graphic novel and a great book with amazing illustrations.  There are dinosaurs, mistaken identities, mean girl drama and several chapters, for Pete’s sake. (We have it in the graphic novels at the library, which is probably the best spot for it, but you still worry about it not finding all its readers.  Rest assured — I will find a way to sneak it onto display shelves as often as I can!)

After you enjoy the story, flip back through and appreciate the illustrations one more time.  They are so full of things to look at – buildings, subways, museums, strategically placed word bubbles, and maybe a reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark or Edward Hopper paintings.  With the right kid, this book would be a joy to read in one massive, fun sweep, or in smaller chunks as a bedtime story.  What dreams they would have!

Wonderful.  Just wonderful.

Bolivar by Sean Rubin

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Depression visualized

night shiftNight Shift might look like a picture book, but it’s not.  If you’ve ever lived through or known someone who’s lived through depression, it will look all too familiar to you.  There might be dragons and other fantastic thingss, but the lingering, all-consuming fog, the difficulty of daily survival – it’s just all there on the page.  It’s not fun to read, but it does end with hope, as well as an explanation.  Definitely worth a look.

Night Shift by Debi Gliori

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Where is my white polyester suit?

laser moose 2Am I obsessed with disco-related children’s books?  Perhaps.  A few years back, I found a 25¢ disco hits CD in the library book sale and brought it home to my son for his CD player.  (It seems very old school to actually have a CD player these days.)  There’s nothing quite like YMCA or KC & the Sunshine Band to get your morning routine going at 6:30 a.m.  Maybe disco is just something I find amusing?  Hard to say.

All you need to know about this book is that the rabbit totally rocks a John Travolta Saturday Night Fever suit in one panel that isn’t actually part of the story.  Who cares?  I’m telling you, that picture just wiped clean several hours of unpleasant news and painful, clumsy housework.

And then you throw in a moose shooting lasers from its eyes.  Um….YES!  And the chickadee is maybe an evil mastermind, but the porcupine is definitely on the dark side.  Forest animals, world domination, disco balls.  Wow.  I just can’t even put into words how much I love this.  I hope kids love it, too.  Apparently I missed the first book – Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy.  You can bet I’ll be tracking it down.

Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy: Disco Fever by Doug Savage

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Steampunk with Mad King Ludwig… where have you been all my life?

castle in the stars

Parents are always doing weird stuff, aren’t they?  Like flying their balloons up into the atmosphere to try to find some weird holy-grail-like thing called aether.

So you lose one parent.  Time passes.  Your dad tries to keep you from tagging along on his trip to follow up the mystery of your mom’s final trip log.  Um, no.  You must jump on that train and head for Bavaria, meet up with Mad King Ludwig in one of his awesome castles, help your dad build a steampunky ship to search for more aether, and then, oh, sure, also reveal a traitor to the king.  And this is just book one.  Book two had better get here fast.

Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869, book one by Alex Alice

 

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Mega-awesome

megaprincess1Maxie and Justine, princess and pony, have a moment with a fairy godmother, but it’s not cute and filled with rainbows and sunshine.  It’s spunky and silly and there’s a quest of sorts – find a baby or a bunch of babies, bring people together, be a friend, kiss a few frogs.

So fun.

Mega Princess by Kelly Thompson, Adam Greene, and Brianne Drouhard

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Imagine middle school. Now add sword fights.

alls faire

Or imagine middle school. Then imagine you and your parents are big into the Renaissance Faire scene.  Yes, it could be incredibly awkward or incredibly cool.  It might depend on the day or the variety of mean girl or demanding science teacher you brush up against.  You might even do things you don’t think are nice and then be embarrassed by the outcome. So much drama.

All’s Faire in Middle School is a fun read, though, touching lightly on some things and more deeply on others.  Does being the new kid give you more choices or just more worries?  Who are your real friends?  And what about that annoying younger brother?

Definitely worth a look, especially for fans of Raina Telgemeier or Roller Girl (also written by this author).

All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

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Wonder Twin Power ACTIVATE!

cosmic commandosI have a confession to make.  For years, my husband has randomly said something along the lines of “wonder twin power—activate!”  Because we are a family loaded up in references—many dating back to Firesign Theatre, which he listened to with his friends when he was a teenager—I have never actually asked about or looked up the reference.

This morning, however, when I was thinking about Cosmic Commandos, the first thing that popped into my mind was, “wonder twin power”, so I finally decided to look it up.  It turns out that the Wonder Twins are Junior Superfriends and were in a cartoon way back, which explains everything I need to know.  I was more of a Scooby Doo and Looney Tunes gal.

Reference explained… and now on to the book of day!  Cosmic Commandos is a light, fun read.  You could delve into the relationship between the twins – one brash and bold, the other nerdy and social – but it’s as much fun to read along as Jeremy of the “stinkish life” charges forward without thinking and ends up mostly succeeding at destroying an evil alien power.  Why not?  It’s a little bit of summer fun, right?

Cosmic Commandos by Christopher Eliopoulos

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How to capture my 13 year old inner dialogue, although maybe you’d rather not

BraveMaybe kids think completely different thoughts these days.  I mean, I wonder sometimes if my youth was so wildly different – no electronics, three tv stations available, bad perms – that I can’t even begin to understand what my kid lives with.  Technology is not a kind beast.

Then I read something like Brave.  Or we find ourselves talking about mean girls.  And I realize that at least for my kid, some things are still kind of the same. Definitely still awful.  Do we all find ourselves feeling isolated, dumb, or out of the loop?  Are we all bad at handling bullies, whether it’s jerks who grab our books and play catch or people who attack us with words?

Maybe.  Maybe not.  Maybe some kids pass blissfully through adolescence without any bumps along the way.  Svetlana Chmakova captures those who don’t perfectly, and really, everyone can benefit from that.  If you’re struggling yourself, Brave makes you feel like you’re not alone.  And in the rare case that you feel like you’re on top of the world, maybe you can see what it’s like for everyone else and feel some compassion.  Maybe?

Brave by Svetlana Chmakova

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Friendships, good and bad

real friendsThere are so many kinds of friends, aren’t there?  Sometimes you have a friend who begins to feel like all you need.  Then she moves.  Maybe you manage to end up in a bigger group of friends later on.  There will be a kind of unhappy, mean “friend” somewhere in there who’s more concerned with being first at being someone’s best friend than in being friends with everyone.  Or maybe they make fun of you because you’re different, even though they claim they’re only telling you to help you.

Friendship, like love, is so very complicated, which is why I liked this graphic novel/memoir so much.  It reminded me of many happy, silly afternoons as a child, playing in imaginary worlds with a friend.  It also reminded me of some uncomfortable and painful moments.  Both are important things to talk about with kids, since their lives are as complicated, if not more complicated than ours.

I, thank goodness, never had to navigate friendship by way of social media.  I screwed up a lot of things, but no one was saving screenshots of my mistakes.  Maybe there are damning pictures out there somewhere in a shoe box, but my biggest humiliations only take up space in my memory.

I prefer to remember the happier times: building forts under the picnic table, having dance contests at slumber parties, and lying in the shade of the big tree looking at the clouds shaped like turtles and whales.

Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

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The sparkling eyes of Mary Alice

ghost shipA ghost ship.  An evil tech gazillionaire.  A missing girl.  One boy in a red shirt.

There are so many details that add to and flesh out the characters in this excellent graphic novel – small things that quickly begin to link together everyone and everything in this book.  It’s a joy to read, quick but full of wonderful small moments – John Blake talking to the ship, shipmates who’ve escaped from other places and times. Fog fades in and out, and there’s time travel, long lost families and friends, debts to pay.

One storyline has ended, but there will be more, right?  Please?

The Adventures of John Blake:  Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman and Fred Fordham

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