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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Graphic Novels, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 789
1. The Underground Abductor

The Underground Abductor. (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #5) Nathan Hale. 2015. Abrams. 128 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It is time to hang this spy! Are you sure? Can't we get one more story out of him first?

Premise/plot: Nathan Hale sets out to prove that America isn't perfectly perfect, and, that America has in fact "taken part in some truly horrible, despicable, abominable, atrocious, downright evil acts." He speaks, of course, of slavery. And in this graphic novel, he tells the story of Harriet Tubman (aka Araminta Ross). It's an intense story without a doubt. He speaks of her growing up in slavery, the abuses she faced, the challenges she overcame, her marrying a free man, her decision to run away, her decision to run back into slavery. For it became her mission to travel back and forth between North and South saving slaves--escorting slaves to safety, to Canada, in fact. All via the "underground railroad" of abolitionists. Some of this information I was familiar with, but, some was new to me. For example, I was not aware of her head injury perhaps leading to her narcolepsy. I had no idea of her visions either!

My thoughts: I am so glad I discovered this series. I really have enjoyed reading these books practically back to back. I would definitely recommend all of the books in the series. I hope it is a very LONG series.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood

Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood. (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #4) Nathan Hale. 2014. Abrams. 128 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: This prologue is brought to you by E Pluribus Hangman.

Premise/plot: Nathan Hale shares with the British soldier (Provost) and hangman a story of when England and America will no longer be fighting each other but best friends and allies. This graphic novel is about World War I. It selectively, yet descriptively, tells of the war, year by year. It is action-packed, and yet one knows it's not exhaustive in its coverage.

Each country mentioned (both those fighting and those holding onto their neutral status) gets an animal assigned to it. So most of the illustrations are of animals at war with one another. Serbia is a Wolf. The Austro-Hungarian Empire is a Griffin. Russia is a Bear. Germany is an Eagle. France is a Gallic Rooster. Belgium is a Lion. England is a Bulldog (since Lion was already taken). America is a Bunny (since Eagle is already taken). Australia is a Kangaroo. Canada is a Beaver. New Zealand is a Kiwi. India is a Tiger. Ottoman Empire is an Otter. Japan is a Raccoon Dog. Those are the countries I can remember.

World War I is a complex subject, there is a lot to digest. There are hundreds--if not thousands--of books written by adults for adults seeking to explain the war and exhaustively cover every battle, every victory, every loss. So it is an ambitious project to condense the war into a middle grade graphic novel.
Nathan Hale: War is built and controlled by human hands--humans start it, humans stop it.
Hangman: Then WHY DIDN'T THEY STOP IT EARLIER--BEFORE IT KILLED EVERYBODY?! WHY DID THEY LET IT OUT IN THE FIRST PLACE!? THEY SHOULD LOCK IT UP AND NEVER EVER LET IT OUT!!!
Provost: Calm down, Hangman! There are times when war is a necessity. Tell him it is so, Captain Hale.
Nathan Hale: I'm not here to judge which wars were necessary and which wars weren't. I just tell the story. World War I is best summed up by those who experienced it.
All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal. ~ John Steinbeck
My thoughts: I really thought this book was well done. Yes, it's a bit text heavy. Yes, there is a LOT of information packed into it, perhaps too much information to actually absorb and digest. But it's well-crafted and well-organized. I'm impressed by how Nathan Hale (the author) was able to break down all the information and present it in such a concise way. War is never glorified, yes, the Provost and Hangman sometimes get carried away with BATTLES, but, by the end, Nathan Hale (the spy) has moved them both with his story.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. Review of the Day: Kid Beowulf by Alexis Fajardo

KidBeowulfKid Beowulf: The Blood-Bound Oath
By Alexis E. Fajardo
Color by Jose Mari Flores
Prologue Color by Brian Kolm
Amp Comics for Kids (an imprint of Andrews McMeel Publishing)
$10.99
ISBN: 978-1-4494-7589-5
Ages 9-12
On shelves now.

This is a true story. I started college in 1996. Earlham College. Richmond, Indiana. Nice place. Little Quaker school (“Fight! Fight! Inner light! Kill, Quakers, Kill,” ← our sports chant). Little colleges have little cute traditions. Mine was keen on complicated pranks. One day I go down to the cafeteria for a bowl of Cheerios and lo and behold there, on the ceiling, is this epic mural of two cartoon characters touching fingers ala Michelangelo’s Adam and God in The Sistine Chapel. The characters in question were from a weekly comic in the school newspaper penned by one Alexis Fajardo. From that time onward I would Alexis Fajardo. And I followed his career. He kept up the comic strip (called “Plato’s Republic”) for a while and then started in on this Kid Beowulf graphic novel series. I didn’t get any chance to read them but they had a fun premise and the art really popped. Now, after all these many years, Amp Comics has picked up the series and given it a proper running start. In the grand tradition of Bone, Amulet, and countless other epic quest graphic novels, Fajardo gives us heroes to root for, villains to loathe, and complex characterizations around every turn. He’s come a long way from painting ceilings.

We start with the original epic poem of Beowulf. The original tale of man vs. monster is recounted but, the book assures us, “as men have told it – as I said, they twist the truth. Too blind to know the proper tale of a king’s run-rampant youth . . .” Now we are in the land of the Danes where a headstrong prince threatens a tenuous peace. Hrothgar cannot stand those Heathobards that he feels infringe on his homelands. When he encounters a dragon of great power he makes a deadly pact. Upon his return he begins a reign of destruction and ignorance, eventually fathering his own monstrous daughter. Named Gertrude, she is raised by the same dragon with whom Hrothgar made a pact. All this so that, in time, she will give birth to her own twins. One looks like her and is named Grendel. The other, a fully human boy, named Beowulf. And when they lose and find one another again, that’s when the story truly begins.

KidBeowulf3One thing I didn’t really expect when I picked the book up was to encounter Fajardo’s inclination to tell his tale in his own time. By all rights, all this book is really doing from the start is setting the stage for future tales to come. Yet though it’s named “Kid Beowulf”, the titular hero and his twin brother don’t even make an appearance until page 120, and even then they’re just babies. The reader’s patience is rewarded if that reader chooses to stick with the storyline, but it means that the best kids for this book won’t be the ones who like simplified narratives of action and adventure on every other panel. No, these books are going to be for those kids who like to sink deep into a world, dwell there for a time, scope out the situations, and understand the motivations. If you’ve a new graphic novel reader on your hands, I wouldn’t start them off with Kid Beowulf. This book is better suited for those kids out there with a little comic-reading experience under their belts.

In a lot of ways, the book series reminds me of the old Asterix and Obelix comics. It’s not an entirely fair comparison since the tone of the two comics is completely different. Yet both spend an inordinate amount of time in an ancient world. Fajardo himself acknowledges this with the creation of two characters that intentionally have many of Asterix & Obelix’s personality quirks. Still and all, the book was far more complicated than I expected. Kids love that stuff, by the way. They love it when an author has the guts to tell a story without feeling obligated to explain everything constantly. And Fajardo doesn’t water down the complexity. You’re either on board with the storytelling from the start or you’re not. The politics of the region is what the plot hinges on continually, so you need to read this with an open mind towards the Geats, Danes, Heathobards, and others. People also come and go, betray one another, and reappear after years and years. To keep track of it all there is a Character Glossary but unfortunately it’s located in the back of the book where it might easily go missed for some time. If you’re handing this book to a kid, I recommend that you point that little element out to them first thing. They’ll thank you for it later.

After sitting down and thinking long and hard about it, I came to the shocking realization that Fajardo likes three-dimensional characters. That shouldn’t be all that shocking, actually. Lots of authors do. But consider the format here. We’re dealing with an epic quest graphic novel series. I mentioned Bone and Amulet earlier and if there’s one thing those stories have in common it’s bad guys that sulk about without so much as a sympathetic hair on their heads. Kid Beowulf is different. There are plenty of guys (and gals, sorta) working for their own selfish interests, but that also are capable of learning and growing. Hrothgar is probably the most flawed fella in the book, but even he does a slow 180-degree turnaround over the decades. And sympathetic characters like Gertrude also have their greedy moments for which they’ll have to pay the price later. It’s so interesting that you could even get this kind of shading in a book based, as it is, on a good vs. bad epic poem like Beowulf. That’s the irony at work.

KidBeowulf2Considering the time period, the role of women in this book is worthy of examination. Fajardo has sort of a single style when it comes to human women (human girls don’t seem to exist) which is a heavy-lidded femme fatale look, regardless of their positions or names. The one exception to this rule is, of course, Gertrude, and in her monster form she gets to have all the freedom of any of the boys around her. She fights. She gets more than just a couple pages here and there. The book doesn’t even come close to passing the Bechdel Test, and Gertrude’s methods of finding a mate are disappointingly stereotypical, but for the most part she’s a strong female character worthy of examination. There is, however, room for improvement and I sincerely hope future installments will contain at least one other woman who does more than think only of the men in her life.

Sit down for five minutes in any public school in America today and don’t be surprised if you hear the words “Common Core State Standards” waft by at some point. These standards aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and with their focus on nonfiction and folktales, it just makes good clean sense for any author of a fictional work to find some kind of curricular tie-in. Fajardo does just that. In fact, he goes a little bit crazy with it. I could understand the World Map at the start and the finish as well as in color in the backmatter. And the second map, the one of Daneland circa 450 A.D., that was a nice touch. But about the time I noticed the glossary of terms, character glossary, and family tree, to say nothing of the section about the original epic poem itself, Fun Fact section, and Bibliography of recommended sources (which, for the record, is a beautiful collection) I was floored. Add in a large section on how Fajardo draws his characters, inks and colors them, and more and . . . well, you’d be forgiven for feeling that this more akin to a full college course on Beowulf and graphic novels than a single collected comic.

KidBeowulf1I haven’t mentioned the art itself, of course, which is poor form when reviewing a graphic novel. Fajardo employs two different styles in this book. The first part, during the retelling of the original Beowulf epic poem, is done in a more realistic, cinematic style. Even the colorist is different from the colorist in the rest of the book. Then the book becomes far cartoonier. Tiny too, considering how many panels Fajardo is able to pack into a single page. For some, the seriousness of the content (the fate of Yrs, for example) doesn’t match the style. For others, it will seem a natural complement. For my part I did find the cartoonishness a surprise, considering the actions of the characters, but as the story continued I got used to it. Kids, I suspect, will feel the same way.

There is a school of thought that says that if you let a kid read whatever they want, they’ll work their way around to the classics in time. I read a ton of really truly terrible Harvey comics as a kid. Later I would delve into works like Les Miserables and Middlemarch for fun. Is there a connection? Nobody knows! A lot of parents fear that their kids will gorge themselves on comics, making them wholly and entirely unable to digest literature without pictures. To them, I hand Kid Beowulf. I truly do believe that a comic done correctly, done with panache and interest and a unique style of its own, will garner fans that will seek out other material on the same topic. Not every kid who reads Fajardo’s book is going to take a crack at a little Old English on their own. They may, however, dive into some of those books Mr. Fajardo so helpfully included in his Bibliography. Or they might learn a bit about the poem’s origins. Or they might want to make their own comics about ancient texts. Whatever the case, you can look at this book either as a springboard for bigger better things, or just a good rip-roaring tale that can stand on its own two feet. Whatever your justification, Fajardo has the goods. That painting he made on the ceiling years ago seemed impossible. This series? Attainable. Now go attain it.

On shelves now.

Source: Final copy sent from publisher for review.

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Professional Reviews: A star from Kirkus

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4.

Jenni Holm is here today to tell us that currently, children's graphic novel/comics publishing is a veritable Wild Wild West, the processes of acquisition and production are different for all publishing houses, but the ones that ARE making kids comics are behind them whole hog, which is great to hear!

She recommends you read the Comics Making Bible, aka Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. (I'd add the New Testaments of Comics Making are Jessica Abel and Matt Madden's Drawing Words & Writing Pictures plus the follow up, Mastering Comics.)

She briefly tells us how comics were written, and shows us how the actual script pages compare: the old standard Stan Lee Method, the exhaustive/OCD Alan Moore method, and the classic, screenwriting style of script like a Joss Whedon would use. Jenni recommends using a screenplay format or her storyboard format as mentioned below, but probably NOT the Marvel Comic or Alan Moore format, which most traditional children's book editors might not be familiar with.

All do in some way separate out visually in the script the dialogue vs. action vs. narration. How do you use each part in your graphic novel script?

Dialogue: Same as prose, only now in speech bubbles!

Narration: More complicated, primarily used for scene transitions, major backgroun set-up, or increasingly internal monologue, occasionally even as a character, like the snarky narrator in BABYMOUSE.

Action: Stage directions/everything else that happens.

Jenni shares with us the various ways you rough out a comic, different types of storyboards, some of which are artist driven (sketches are fairly fleshed out and laid out and basic composition is done), some that are author driven.


HOW A BABYMOUSE GETS MADE:

Jenni and Matt's graphic novels always start with story first. Jenni and Matt come up with a log line, and then Jenni starts planning the story with this sort of storyboard:


Jenni already knows that the final published BABYMOUSE is going to be 96 pages, which equals about 56 pages of this storyboard.

After Jenni writes it all out, it goes to Matt, and then the editor, and when everybody loves it, it goes back to Matt for thumbnailing.

Those thumbnails get laid out page by page and are then sent to the art director who double checks it for clarity and printing guidelines.

After that it goes back to Matt to do the final art and color spotting!

TADA!

Jenni lists the children's publishers doing kid's comics today:

GRAPHIX (probably biggest commercial titles publisher via Scholastic)
First Second (all ages/arty)
Random House (younger/elementary school)
ABRAMS (Nathan Hale and Cece Bell, Wimpy Kid)
TOON BOOKS (via Candlewick, super young end of spectrum)
DC and MARVEL (may want to start YA)
BOOM STUDIOS (Lumberjanes)

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5. Donner Dinner Party

Donner Dinner Party. (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #3). Nathan Hale. 2013. Harry N. Abrams. 128 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye!

Premise/plot: Nathan Hale returns for this third hazardous tale in this graphic novel. The story that will prolong his life and delay his hanging is the story of the DONNER PARTY. His immediate audience, of course, is the hangman and a British officer. It's very convenient that since being eaten by the large American History book he can see the future and use the future to tell super-entertaining stories. Readers first meet the Reed family led by James Reed. Other families will be introduced as they journey west and join (and quit) wagon trains. The dangers are MANY. Some dangers are unpredictable and almost unavoidable. Other dangers they walk straight into confidently, sweeping away warnings. Usually if not always, always, it's the MEN making the decisions and the women and children who can do nothing but except the judgement of husbands and fathers. The story is FASCINATING AND HORRIBLE at the same time.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. It is quite a compelling, absorbing read. You wouldn't think there would be a lot of characterization in a graphic novel, but, surprisingly there is. I had read very little if anything about the Donner Party, and, so I found it really interesting. I knew it was a grim story, but, I had not realized there were survivors too. So it wasn't quite as depressing as I first imagined it to be.

I definitely recommend this series of graphic novels. Even if you don't necessarily love reading graphic novels. The focus on history has me hooked. And I've become quite fond of Nathan Hale and his two would-be executioners.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. Big Bad Ironclad


Big Bad Ironclad (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #2) Nathan Hale. 2012. Harry N. Abrams. 128 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: If you've got a story, you'd better tell it, Nathan Hale. This is a hanging, not a children's story hour.

Premise/plot: Nathan Hale, the spy, continues to outwit the British in this second graphic novel. (The first book in the series is ONE DEAD SPY.) Though he's due to be hanged any minute, his tales from the future (all taken from American History) are so entertaining that the British officer and hangman are delaying a bit. In his conversational style, the focus shifts from the current war (Revolutionary) to the Civil War. These stories concern the NAVY and the Civil War sea battles. Specifically, the race to build the best ironclad ships and create an indestructible navy. The South had the U.S.S. Merrimack. The North had The MONITOR. Of course, it isn't just the two ships that are the subject of this one. So many people are introduced, some of them quite fascinating and 'new to me' at that.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one even more than the first book in the series. I really found this to be a quick, absorbing read. I may have thought it pushed a little too far to the absurd side when Gustavus Fox was illustrated as a fox to satisfy the whim of the hangman, but, I overlooked that in the end!

Even if you don't "love" graphic novels, if you love history you should give one of the books in the series a try.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. One Dead Spy

One Dead Spy (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #1) Nathan Hale. 2012. Abrams. 128 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Welcome, one and all! I am the hangman. I am here to hang the man!

Premise/plot: Nathan Hale, the spy, narrates this graphic novel, the first in a new series by Nathan Hale. Readers meet him on the day of his hanging. A slight delay in the process gives him just enough time to practice finding the right last words to say. What he comes up with as his 'last words' are so good, that a giant book--a HISTORY BOOK--comes and swallows him whole. When he 'returns' from the book to the present, he knows the future. He further delays his hanging by telling two people--the hangman and a British officer--entertaining stories. He gets them hooked on history, in a way. The stories in this first volume are of the REVOLUTIONARY WAR. (The second book in the series is focused on the CIVIL WAR.)

My thoughts: It's a graphic novel. I am not a big reader of graphic novels--usually. But I always seem to find a handful of exceptions to the rule to read throughout the year. I enjoyed this one so much, I think I'm going to continue on with the series. I believe there are six so far.

I like the fact that they are packed with history, and the focus is on the STORY of history. The characters--minus the narrator, hangman and British officer--seem to be taken from history and stick relatively close to actual history. (Yes, there was a real Nathan Hale who spied for George Washington, was hung when he was caught, remembered for his last words. But this Nathan Hale seems to be cheating his fate and become a famous storyteller who can foresee America's history.)

At the end of the book, Nathan Hale (the author and illustrator) shares with young readers more biographical and historical information. He also introduces his team of baby researchers who vow that each graphic novel is 76% accurate. If anyone finds flaws in the history, they are to write the CORRECTION BABY. It's an odd way to share research details, perhaps, but definitely unique.

This particular book in the series includes a bonus episode--of a few pages--called CRISPUS ATTACKS: FIRST TO DEFY, FIRST TO DIE!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. Review: ‘Shadoweyes’ is a true transformative superhero

It’s a rare occasion that you can use words like sweet, thoughtful, and gentle to describe a science fiction superhero story taking place in a brutal, dystopian urban battleground, but thanks to Sophie Campbell’s Shadoweyes from Iron Circus Comics, that day has arrived. Set in a cluttered and decaying city of the future, Dranac, Campbell introduces […]

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9. ALA-Orlando: Margaret Atwood Charms Librarians, Comics Fans at the American Library Association Annual Conference!

The American Library Association offered an impressive schedule of graphic novel panels at their annual conference in Orlando, and the most impressive was undoubtedly Margaret Atwood! Known for her prose writing, she has a lifelong relationship with comics, having taught herself to read the “funny papers” of the Golden Age. (“Orphan Annie freaked me out. […]

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10. Review: Wandering Star, A Timeless Classic, Returns To Print

wandering star 6Dover Publications is mostly known for two things: papercraft books (including coloring books back before they were cool), and reprinting lost literary treasures, mostly in the public domain. That reprint model changed a few years ago, when Drew Ford, then an editor at Dover, started a graphic novel line, reprinting many forgotten classics from the […]

5 Comments on Review: Wandering Star, A Timeless Classic, Returns To Print, last added: 7/5/2016
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11. Review: Rebecca Roher’s tender family memories are a pleasing meditation on loss

For many people, the earliest experience of human loss that pierces their emotions and affects their everyday existence is the death of a grandparent, and that of a grandmother, I have found, anyway, seems to pack a particular wallop. Some grandmothers participate in a kid’s life as a kind of back-up parent, others as a […]

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12. Review: Patrick Kyle invites you to force your way into his work

Sometimes it’s better to just give yourself to something rather than to seek out its meaning. Not everything has to have one clear meaning, and in some cases, to bring concrete meaning to a work might mean imposing clarity on something that was not meant to have any. That imposition might actually come off as […]

2 Comments on Review: Patrick Kyle invites you to force your way into his work, last added: 6/24/2016
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13. Alan Moore’s Secret Q&A Cult Exposed! Part II: You’ll Gasp When You See What He Told Them!!!

His Celestial SelfDeep in the grubby sump of one of those so-called ‘Social Media’ sites, there is a clump of aging comics fanboys called The Really Very Serious Alan Moore Scholars’ Group, known to its sad and lonely adherents as TRVSAMSG. When they’re not annotating everything in sight, or calling down ancient evils on the heads of […]

2 Comments on Alan Moore’s Secret Q&A Cult Exposed! Part II: You’ll Gasp When You See What He Told Them!!!, last added: 6/24/2016
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14. Review: ‘5,000 Kilometers Per Second’ untangles relationships with elegance

In 2010 Grand Prize winner at the Angoulême Comics Festival in France and the Lucca Comics Festival in Italy 5,000 Km Per Second, Italian cartoonist Maneuele Fioe utilizes his strong watercolor skills to offer not the whole of a relationship, but slices, and leaves it up to the readers to fill in the spaces with the parts he […]

1 Comments on Review: ‘5,000 Kilometers Per Second’ untangles relationships with elegance, last added: 6/13/2016
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15. Ethan Hawke promoted his graphic novel, INDEH, on The Tonight Show

I wrote about this in my link round up the other day, but I wanted to give it it’s own item just as a benchmark for how far comics promo can go. Hawke joined Jimmy Fallon to talk about INDEH, the new graphic novel about the Apache Wars, which is drawn by Greg Ruth and […]

3 Comments on Ethan Hawke promoted his graphic novel, INDEH, on The Tonight Show, last added: 6/9/2016
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16. Review: The darker beauty of Cathy G. Johnson’s ‘Gorgeous’

This short, spare, poetic, emotionally brutal piece from Cathy G. Johnson and Koyama Press captures the intersection of three lives, and the unlikely self realization that two of them enact on one. The story begins with two punks at a music show exhibiting destructive manners that disrupts the shows and gives them an opportunity for […]

1 Comments on Review: The darker beauty of Cathy G. Johnson’s ‘Gorgeous’, last added: 6/8/2016
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17. Review: ‘Nod Away’ is human-level science fiction that looks to the big picture

The first in a projected seven-book science fiction series, Joshua W. Cotter’s Nod Away draws you in with the human drama, but keeps the science fiction elements of the story mostly at bay, creating a mysterious mist that hangs on people’s lives as they cope with the little moments, oblivious to the larger mysteries that are […]

2 Comments on Review: ‘Nod Away’ is human-level science fiction that looks to the big picture, last added: 6/7/2016
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18. Next Year's Readers: Three Next-In-The-Series



I believe in the power of series books.

I believe in the power of graphic novels.

Here are three next-in-the-series graphic novels that are on my TBR pile for the first week of June:



Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Alamo All-Stars
by Nathan Hale
Amulet Books, 2016

It was fun to sit and listen to a group of girls talk about the merits of this series last week. They are good readers and detail-oriented, so the amount of smaller-font text doesn't put them off. They each have a different favorite in the series, but none of them has read Donner Dinner Party yet (my personal favorite). They talked about how this is the kind of series where it's important to read the first one first so that you understand why Nathan Hale (the historic character) is telling all these stories (to delay his hanging). After that, you can read them in any order.

Thank you, Nathan Hale (the author) for making history fun and accessible!



by Judd Winick
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016

This is book two. The first book in this series ended on such (SUCH) a cliffhanger that I can't believe I'm not reading this book right now. (And as I typed that, I just guilted myself into taking this copy to school for the last 8 days so that every child who groaned audibly upon finishing it will be able to read book two before going on to middle school.)

HiLo is my new favorite superhero. Read this series; he'll be your favorite, too!




by Mike Maihack
Scholastic GRAPHIX, 2016

I love graphic novels with strong female characters who are cast as adventurers and sheroes. Bring on Cleopatra, Emily (in Amulet), Claudette (Giants Beware and Dragons Beware), and Zita (Spacegirl).

Don't get me wrong. There's a place for Babysitters' Club. I'm just loving these strong, capable girl sheroes.


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19. Interview: Tales from the Loop’s Simon Stålenhag—Swedish Sci-Fi Inspiration and Why Alien is a Perfect Bedtime Story

Simon StålenhagRoaming around Austin during SXSW is a perfect way to stumble into discoveries. One such find this year was the Nordic Lighthouse—a showcase of Nordic startup tech, cinema, music, food, and design. Lucky for me Simon Stålenhag, the author of Tales From The Loop, was part of that showcase. I managed to get some time where he talked about inspiration, Swedish countryside, the eighties, why his dad's bedtime story was Alien, and poetry.

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20. It’s Time To Rethink About How Graphic Novels Are Read

watchmen-coverThe audience migration from monthly comics to graphic novels (tpbs, if you prefer) has always been a fairly contentious thing. There’s not a lot of point in denying that the book format is continuing to make gains and a lot of new readers prefer it. When Paul Levitz writes about graphic novels being “a clear majority of sales,” it’s probably time for a wider range of people give up the ghost and talk about that format as an end game.

10 Comments on It’s Time To Rethink About How Graphic Novels Are Read, last added: 4/7/2016
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21. Review: Aama is intelligent, mind-bending science fiction with a core of humanity

Taking the idea of awareness and screwing with it from multiple vantage points — self-awareness, awareness of the space around you, familial awareness, scientific awareness, societal awareness — Aama addresses, among other things, the notion of a hive mind and presents mankind as a damaged entity, one in which each part is out of sync […]

2 Comments on Review: Aama is intelligent, mind-bending science fiction with a core of humanity, last added: 4/12/2016
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22. Fresh Graphic Novel Picks

Image from Penguin Random House.

Image from http://bit.ly/1StCQOy.

Hurrah! Spring has officially arrived- at least for the most part.  Although it seems to be a daily surprise here in my part of the country whether or not we will have spring or winter temperatures, I thought it was a great time for sharing some fresh, new graphic novels with you! Below are a few of my favorite titles that have been published so far this year. I’m sure you and your patrons will enjoy them!

Complete Chi’s Sweet Home: Part 2 by Konami Kanata. Vertical Comics; 2016.

Cat lovers of all ages will adore this manga series! This recently released title collects volumes four through six from Kanata’s original series. Follow Chi in her adorable adventures as she learns how to live with her adoptive family, the Yamadas, and searches for her mother.

Unicorn Vs. Goblins: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure by Dana Simpson. Andrews McMeel Publishing; 2016.

The third volume in the Phoebe and Her Unicorn series delivers plenty of laughs, just like the previous two titles. Readers will follow Phoebe and her narcissistic unicorn best friend, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, on some goofy adventures. The pair visit summer music camp, hangout with Marigold’s sister, Florence Unfortunate Nostrils (ha!), and encounter a goblin queen. An especially great pick for tween readers.

The Great Pet Escape by Victoria Jamieson, Henry Holt and Co.; 2016.

The amazing creator of Newbery honor book Roller Girl has now given us this gem! Have you ever wondered what classroom pets do once the students and teachers have went home for the day? Jamieson gives us a hilarious look at the after-hours antics of the pets of Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary as they attempt to escape, get into a food fight, and more. Younger readers in kindergarten through second grade will be cracking up, I know I was!

The Nameless City: Volume 1 by Faith Erin Hicks. First Second; 2016.

Image from http://bit.ly/21fQDus.

Image from http://bit.ly/21fQDus.

This title is slated to be the beginning of a new series from Hicks and it is filled with adventure and intrigue. Two kids from opposite sides of a long-held conflict become friends in the City. It remains nameless due to the constant invasions by other nations, seeking to control the only passage through the mountains to the ocean in this well-developed fictional world. Recommended for older tween readers, this graphic novel takes on more serious issues of identity while providing plenty of fun action.

What are some of your favorite graphic novels published this year so far? Happy reading until next time!

The post Fresh Graphic Novel Picks appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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23. Misadventures of Grumpy Cat

The Misadventures of Grumpy Cat and Pokey, vol. 1 Ben McCool, Royal McGraw, Elliott Serrano, Ben Fisher, Steve Uy. 2016. Dynamite Entertainment. 104 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I didn't enjoy reading The Misadventures of Grumpy Cat (and Pokey!), at least not as much as I was expecting to--wanting to. I hoped my love of Grumpy Cat would outweigh my dislike of comic books. That wasn't the case at all. The portrayal of Grumpy Cat didn't really live up to my expectations either. More often than not, my reaction to a comic was: so what?

I wasn't expecting the weirdness in the collection: a couple of ghost stories, a time travel story, an alien encounter, and one about ancient Egyptian mummies.

Treasure Map--Grumpy Cat exerts a lot of energy in this one to set up Pokey for a trick: she buries a treasure map, pretends to be disinterested, refuses to cooperates, reluctantly agrees, dresses up as a ghost or two, etc. A "real" ghost ends this strip. I was less than enthused by this first comic.

Grumpy in HD--Grumpy gets Pokey and a dog into trouble with the humans in this one. It is about the remote control and how to "make" it work. It felt shorter and less annoying--which is a good thing.

Super-Pokey & Grumpy Cat in Paws of Justice--Pokey convinces Grumpy Cat to be his sidekick. Pokey having been inspired by watching superheroes on tv. There are costumes and everything. Can this duo prove heroic in the local neighborhood. This one is a bit over-the-top in a purely silly way. If I had to pick a favorite to like, it, might accidentally be this one.

Grumpy Cat Goes to Comic-Con--just one page, and, definitely one of the 'so what????' strips.

Cell Phone--Grumpy Cat and Pokey get into some trouble with a cell phone. At first Grumpy Cat was don't *try* to answer the phone, leave it alone, it's nothing but trouble waiting to happen. Then, she changes her mind when the human on the other end of the phone starts talking about bringing treats.
It doesn't end well for the cats.

Vincent Van Grump--In an effort to become famous, Grumpy tries her hand at singing, writing, and painting. Perhaps one of the better ones in the collection. At least it isn't otherworldly.

Grumpy Birthday to You--Grumpy Cat is grumpy about her birthday.

Detective Cats--Grumpy Cat and Pokey become detectives to solve a case--a case about missing food or missing treats or something like that. It was okay.

A Grump in Time--weird from start to finish and not in a good-weird way or a funny-weird way. Just weird-weird as in--so what????

Close Encounters of the Grumpy Kind--Pokey and Grumpy meet aliens. At this point I was ready for the book to be done already.

I Know What You Did Last Summer...I Just Don't Care--Fortunately there was just one more story. Unfortunately it was Halloween-themed. This one features the haunted house (again) and an Egyptian mummy-cat.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. Monthly Book List: Our Favorite Books For May

The school year is coming to a close and it’s time to stock up for summer reading. We have five great books for you!

This month, our book list features a sweet story about an unconventional animal family, an adorable picture book that celebrates determination, a nonfiction guide to becoming a backyard scientist, and a book that teaches you how to stand up to their fears. For mature readers, the first-ever graphic novel to receive a Caldecott Honor will make for an engrossing read.

For Pre-K –K (Ages 3-6):

little_pink_pupLittle Pink Pup by Johanna Kerby

Get ready to say “Awww!” every time you turn the page! The real-life photos of a tiny little pig being raised by dachshunds is a heart-warming story that promotes acceptance and reminds us that everyone deserves love.

 

 

For 1st and 2nd Grade (Ages 6-8):

balloon_isabel_1A Balloon for Isabel by Deborah Underwood

This adorable picture book is both a perfect read-aloud and an ideal graduation gift! It’s a joyful celebration of creativity, determination, and creative problem-solving. We can’t get enough of this one!

 

 

 

For 3rd & 4th grade (Ages 8-10):

citizen_scientistsCitizen Scientists by Loree Griffin Burns

Anyone can be a scientist in this kid-friendly, non-fiction gem! Kids will learn how to observe, conduct research, collect data, and be part of four unique scientific discoveries that can happen anywhere — in a backyard, a field, or even a city park.

 

 

 

For 5thand 6th Grade (Ages 10-12):

liberation_of_gabriel_1The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L. Going

Warm, wonderful, and unforgettable, this is the terrific story of a boy whose best friend teaches him to stand up to his fears – from spiders to bullies and more. A perfect read for summer!

 

 

 

Grades 7 & up (Ages 13+):

this_one_summerThis One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

Both hopeful and heartbreaking, this beautiful book is the first graphic novel to be awarded a Caldecott Honor. Mature teens will find it captivating and will readily relate to its coming-of-age explorations of complex friendship and family relationships.

The post Monthly Book List: Our Favorite Books For May appeared first on First Book Blog.

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25. Review of the Day: The King of Kazoo by Norm Feuti

KingKazooKing of Kazoo
By Norm Feuti
Graphix (an imprint of Scholastic)
$22.99
ISBN: 978-0545770880
Ages 9-12
On shelves July 26th

When I used to run a children’s book club for 9-12 year-olds, I’d regularly let them choose the next book we’d discuss. In time, after some trial and error, I learned that the best way to do this was to offer them three choices and then to have them vote after a stirring booktalk of each title. The alternative was to let them choose the next book we’d read for themselves. Why would this be a problem? Because given a choice, these kids would do the same kinds of books week after week after week: graphic novels. In fact, it was my job to give them the bad news each week (after they plowed through our small comic section) that we didn’t have any new comics for them. To their minds, new graphic novels for kids should come out weekly, and secretly I agreed with them. But five years ago there really weren’t a lot to choose from. These days . . . it’s not all that different. In spite of the fact that comics have been sweeping the Newbery and Caldecott Awards and our current National Ambassador of Children’s Literature is a cartoonist by trade, the number of graphic novels produced in a given year by trade publishers isn’t much different from the number produced in the past. Why? Because a good comic takes a long time to create. You can’t just slap something together and expect it to hold a kid’s interest. There was a time when this fact would make me mad. These days, when I see a book as great as King of Kazoo, I just give thanks that we’re living in an era where we get any comics at all. A debut GN from a syndicated cartoonist, Kazoo is a straight-up, kid-friendly, rollicking adventure complete with magic, big-headed kings, robots, volcanoes, and trident wielding frog people. Everything, in short, you want in a book.

The King of Kazoo is not a wise man. The King of Kazoo is not a smart man. The King of Kazoo is not a particularly good man. But the King of Kazoo, somehow or other, has a wise, smart, good daughter by the name of Bing, and that is fortunate. Bing dabbles in magic and has been getting pretty good at it too. That’s lucky for everyone since recently the nearby mountain Mount Kazoo kinda, sorta exploded a little. When the King decides the only way to secure his legacy is to solve the mystery of the exploding mountain, he ropes in Bing and silent inventor/mechanic Torq. Trouble is, Bing’s dad has a tendency to walk over everyone who tries to help him. So just imagine what happens when he runs into someone who doesn’t want him to fare well. It’ll take more than magic to stop the evil machinations of a crazed alchemist. It’ll take teamwork and a king who understands why sometimes it might be a good idea to let others take some credit for their own work.

KingKazoo2As a general rule, it is unwise to offer up comparisons of any cartoonist to the late, great Carl Barks. The man who lifted Uncle Scrooge out of the money pit to something bigger and better, set the bar high when it came to animal-like semi-humans with long ears and big shiny black noses (not that Barks invented the noses, but you know what I mean). All that said, it was Barks I kept thinking of as I read The King of Kazoo. There’s something about the light hand Feuti uses to tell his tale. The storytelling feels almost effortless. Scenes glide from place to place with an internal logic that seemingly runs like clockwork. I know it sounds strange but a lot of graphic novels for kids these days are pretty darn dark. Credit or blame the Bone books if you like, but for all that most of them contain humor the stakes can run shockingly high. The Amulet series threatens characters’ souls with tempting magic stones, the Hilo books are filled with questions about the absolutes of “good” and “bad”, and the aforementioned Bone books delve deep into madness, apocalypse, and dark attractions. Little wonder a goofy tale about a hare-brained king in a wayward jalopy appeals to much to me. Feuti is harkening back to an earlier golden age of comics with this title, and the end result is as fresh as it is nostalgic (for adults like me).

KingKazoo3Which is not to say that Feuti sacrifices story for silly. The biggest problem the characters have to overcome isn’t what’s lurking in that mountain but rather the King’s love of bombast and attention. Each character in this story is seeking recognition. The King wants any kind of recognition, whether he deserves it or not. Torq and Bing just want the King to recognize their achievements. Instead, he takes credit for them. And Quaf the Alchemist has gone mildly mad thanks to years of not receiving sufficient credit for his own inventions. To a certain extent the book is questioning one’s desire for applause and attention on a grand scale, focusing more on how necessary it is to give the people closest to you the respect and praise they deserve.

KingKazoo1The style of the art, as mentioned, owes more than a passing nod to Carl Barks. But the seeming simplicity of the style hides some pretty sophisticated storytelling. From little details (like Torq’s missing ear) and sight gags to excellent facial expressions (Feuti is the lord and master of the skeptical eyebrow) and uses of body language (Torq never says a word aside from the occasional sigh, but you are never in any doubt of what he’s feeling). I’m no expert on the subject, but I even think the lettering in the speech balloons may have been done entirely by hand. The coloring is all done on a computer, which is a pity but is also pretty par for the course these days. There’s also something sort of classic to the story’s look. With its strong female character (Bing) you wouldn’t mistake it for a tale published in the 1950s, but on all the other fronts the book harkens back to a simpler comic book time.

I read The King of Kazoo to my four-year-old the other day at bedtime. She’s not the book’s intended audience but her inescapable hunger for comics can drive a mother to grab whatsoever is handiest on the shelf. Lucky is the mom that finds this book sitting there when you need it. Perfect for younger readers, ideal for older ones, and with a snappy plot accompanied by even snappier dialogue, Feuti has produced a comic that will actually appeal to kids of all ages. That King is a kook. Let’s hope we see more of him in the future.

On shelves July 26th

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

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