Monday, October 9

Top Graphic Novels in October

You know what? I really enjoy graphic novels. And lots of kids do, too. And yet, I still seem to forget to set aside more time to read them. So here's a few that I enjoyed this month and hopefully, more will be on the horizon. (And yes, I realize two of them are from Victoria Jamieson...but I really like her work, so no regrets there)

The Great Pet Escape
(Pets on the Loose! #1)
Victoria Jamieson

My rating: ★★★½

ISBN: 978-1627791052
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Date of publication: February 16, 2016
Age: Grades 1 - 4
Genre: Graphic Novel
Format: library book

Themes: classroom pets, rodents, escapes & adventures, engineering

"The class pets at Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School want OUT . . . and GW (short for George Washington), the deceptively cute hamster in the second-grade classroom, is just the guy to lead the way. But when he finally escapes and goes to find his former partners in crime, Barry and Biter, he finds that they actually LIKE being class pets. Impossible!

"But just as GW gets Barry and Biter to agree to leave with him, a mouse named Harriet and her many mouse minions get in their way. How will GW's gang break out now? And just what will the students think when they come back to a rather messy cafeteria?"

I did chuckle a few times, it's true. The characters are funny and wonderfully developed, each with their own unique personality. In fact, quite a bit of the story was spent getting to know our hilarious heroes (Biter, especially, is a character that drives a lot of the humor in this story). The plot itself, however, was quick. Yes, I realize that it's a shorter graphic novel, as it should be for its target audience, but it did feel a bit rushed and underdeveloped. As the first in a series, though (the second was just released this summer), I'm sure these pets' adventures will continue to get better and better. This will be a hit with the kids.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

CatStronauts: Mission Moon
(CatStronauts #1)
Drew Brockington

My rating: ★★★★½

ISBN: 978-0316307451
Publisher: Little, Brown
Date of publication: April 18, 2017
Age: Grades 2 - 5
Genre: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Format: library book

Themes: cats, space travel & exploration, engineering, the moon

"When the world is thrust into darkness due to a global energy shortage, the World's Best Scientist comes up with a bold plan to set up a solar power plant on the moon. But someone has to go up there to set it up, and that adventure falls to the CatStronauts, the best space cats on the planet! Meet the fearless commander Major Meowser, brave-but-hungry pilot Waffles, genius technician and inventor Blanket, and quick thinking science officer Pom Pom on their most important mission yet!"

What an unexpected pleasure! Who knew I could derive such joy from cats who are astronauts? Brockington delivers a hilarious story in a world populated with cats. Yes, cats. As in, there's lots of tuna, yarn, a dislike of getting wet and other such cat-isms. It's quite perfectly juxtaposed with a rather heroic sci-fi story, and is sure to keep readers thoroughly entertained. While I realized the science behind it is quite fictional (as in, no, not educational for the kids reading it--missed opportunity!), I'm sure it will still spark their interest in space exploration and also have them eagerly grabbing for the next book in the series.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

All's Faire in Middle School
Victoria Jamieson

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-0525429999
Publisher: Dial Books
Date of publication: September 5, 2017
Age: Grades 5 - 8
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Graphic Novel
Format: library book

Themes: Renaissance Faire, middle school, homeschooling, friendship, identity, family

Another fantastically written story about the ills and thrills of middle school. Jamieson captures the inner struggles and turmoils of middle-schoolers without beating around the bush. Her main characters are relatable, even as they are unique. Imogene really develops as she tries to discover just who she is (is she the knight or the dragon?) as she moves from the Renaissance world she loves to the middle school world she certainly doesn't love.

Yes, I may have marked a star off. See, I loved Roller Girl (Jamieson's first) because that one really resonated personally with me and I felt the story was a bit more triumphant. In this book, however, there's more hardship and discouragement (bullies, mean teachers, disappointment galore), and a world that I've never experienced (I know, it's terrible, but I've never been to a Renaissance Faire). I'd still recommend it, especially to the middle school crowd.

(A small note to those parents who care: there is a minor reference to sex among Imogene's schoolmates and also a [attempted] sex talk from Imogene's mom [Imogene flees in embarassment]).

Find it at your library or on Amazon

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