Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Humor, Middle Grade, Middle School, Tween Reads

More Graphic Novels!

I’ve got more graphic novels! Let’s get to it.

Nori, by Rumi Hara, (May 2020, Drawn & Quarterly), $24.95, ISBN: 978-1-77046-397-4

Ages 10+

Three-year old Noriko – Nori, for short – lives in Japan’s Osaka suburbs and spends most of her time with her grandmother while her parents are working. Set in the 1980s, Nori is all about a little girl’s adventures as she explores the world around her, accompanied by her best friend: her grandmother. The book contains five short stories and is infused with Japanese culture; the events of World War II still reverberate with the adults around Nori, and cultural festivals bring the excitement of the city alive in the pages. Nori brings childhood memories alive for readers: a part in a school play; chasing rabbits and watching neighborhood kids play with crawfish and beetles; she even wins a trip to Hawaii for herself and her grandmother, which leads to a healing moment for a family who’s lost their own matriarch. Black and white artwork has one-color moments for contrast and interest. Nori is a celebration of childhood and the special relationship between a child and grandparent and middle school-aged readers and young teens will especially love this.

Nori has a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. Read an interview with Rumi Hara on We Need Diverse Books, and visit her website for more information about her work. Nori is a nominee in the 2020 Cybils Graphic Novel category.

 

Marge’s Little Lulu: The Fuzzythingus Poopi, by John Stanley, (Sept. 2020, Drawn and Quarterly), $29.95, ISBN: 9781770463660

Ages 6+

This collection takes me back to my childhood in the best of ways. I used to read Little Lulu reprints when I was growing up, alongside issues of Richie Rich, Casper, and Archie, to name a few. Little Lulu comics were all about the adventures of Little Lulu Moppet and her best friend/frenemy, Tubby; originally published by Dell Comics in the 1940s and 1950s, they’re all about childhood adventures like having snowball fights, trying to gain admission to the “No Girls Allowed” clubhouse, telling stories to a sick friend, and various – hilarious – money-making schemes. This is Drawn and Quarterly’s second Lulu collection, and is filled with reprinted Lulu and Tubby comics, “Lulu’s Diry” diary pages that ran in individual issues, and a cover gallery. The stories are loaded with imagination, like the clip where Lulu houses a ghost who’s been ousted when the house they haunt is torn down; imagines herself in a desert and has to retrieve a nickel from a sewer grate (still in the desert!) by using strands of her hair, leaving her bald. She foils a burglar claiming to be Santa Claus because “he didn’t have a twinkle in his eye!”, and rallies the neighborhood girls together to fight back when they find themselves targeted for snowball attacks by the boys.

Great for new readers who want fun, day-to-day stories of childhood and adults who grew up with Lulu, Tubby, and Alvin. This is a keeper. Read more about The Fuzzythingus Poopi and read an excerpt at publisher Drawn and Quarterly’s page; discover the impact Little Lulu has had on comics, culture, and feminism through this Comics Alliance article and this New Yorker piece.

 

Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter, by Brea Grant, (Oct. 2020, Six Foot Press), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1644420294

Ages 12-16

Mary is perfect for every goth tween and teen you know. She’s the 5 times great-granddaughter of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, and she’s from a family of overachieving women dedicated to that legacy. They’re all writers of renown, especially her superstar author mom, who can’t understand… Mary’s ennui? Lack of interest? The fact that she’s not an overachiever in school or life just yet? The thing is, Mary does have a very special family gift, and it makes its debut in these very pages. Mary can heal monsters. Actual, real-life monsters do exist, and Mary discovers that one night when she reattaches one walking dead guy’s foot. He tells his friends, and they tell their friends… and so on, and so on, and so on, as the old commercial goes. Monsters of all sorts show up at Mary’s with some amusing results, and Mary doesn’t know what to do with herself and this gift! Does she walk away from this gift, or does she embrace it?

Work with me: this is relatable! Teens feel the pressure to know what they want to do with their lives by the time they’re seniors in high school. Imagine the stress of being Mary Shelley’s descendant? When there’s a shrine to your many times-great grandmother, who wrote an enduring classic at the age of 19, in your very own home? Imagine discovering you are good at something… it just happens to be something unusual, or different, and the extra stress that can carry with it! Mary is a teen trying to find her way in a family of high-achieving, highly valued women, and isn’t quite sure that being known for healing monsters is what she wants to be known for. To accept her gift and embrace herself is a journey that most tweens and teens can get on board with. Brea Grant’s moody artwork gives great atmosphere to the story, and the dialogue is wonderfully snarky and introspective all at once. Please buy this for your collections and the readers in your life.

Don’t believe me? EW has an excerpt and article on it. Check it out.

 

The League of Super Feminists, by Mirion Malle/Translated by Aleshia Jensen, (Oct. 2020, Drawn and Quarterly), $16.95, ISBN: 9781770464025

Ages 12+

A fantastic guide to feminism for tweens, teens, and beyond, The League of Super Feminists explains the basics of feminism: YES! you can still enjoy princess movies! NO! You don’t have to hate men! What we need everyone – EVERYONE – to understand is how to critically evaluate the media that makes men knights and dragon slayers, and women damsels in distress. That women don’t come in one size: skinny, white, blonde. That women need to build one another up, not tear each other down. That boys and girls can be friends! Diving into such topics as gender, representation, inclusivity, consent, and beauty, The League of Super Feminists uses a range of characters to illustrate and explain these concepts and deconstruct myths and falsehoods for readers. Written like a conversation between the friends, the book is fun, upbeat, and playful, but always self-aware and smart. Mirion Malle never talks down to readers; it’s straight talk that lets everyone know that feminism is good for all, leads to healthy thinking and self-image. A great beginning to an ongoing conversation. See an excerpt on publisher Drawn and Quarterly‘s webpage. Aleishia Jensen’s translation from the original French to English is flawless and picks up all the nuances set forth by Mirion Malle.

Read more about The League of Super Feminists at publisher Drawn and Quarterly’s webpage, including an excerpt on representation. Read an interview with Mirion Malle on We Need Diverse Books.

Psst… makes an excellent holiday gift for the tween in your life. Just saying. The League of Super Feminists is a nominee in the 2020 Cybils Graphic Novel category.

And one to look forward to!

 

Forever Home, by Jenna Ayoub, (Feb. 2021, Boom! Studios), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684156030

Ages 9-13

This sweet, funny haunted house story is perfect reading for kids who are big on comedy. Willow’s a girl who’s been raised all over the world: her parents are in the Army, and that means moving around every couple of years. She’s had to say goodbye to friends too many times, and she doesn’t want to move again! Her parents have just bought Hadleigh House, an old, pink house in need of some TLC, and Willow is happy to finally set down roots: but Gladys and Viola, the ghostly Hadleigh sisters, want their home all to themselves – and the two ghosts that live with them, the Lady and Thomas, a World War I veteran. The sisters raise a ruckus, but they don’t count on the fact that Willow can see and hear them, and she lets them know she isn’t going anywhere. A touching story of belonging and family, Willow is a smart kid who has no problem digging in her heels to stay in the home she loves; Viola and Gladys are delightfully mischievous ghosts, and The Lady’s habit of killing husbands and fiancees is played for laughs as it’s alluded to, never quite addressed. Thomas’s backstory is poignant, and he emerges as a sweet, almost tragic figure. Forever Home has a little bit of comedy, a touch of bittersweet, and enough affection to make this a sure bet for readers who get a kick out of spooky comedies like The Addams Family and The Boxtrolls. Good for middle grade, great for middle school.

 

Posted in Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Teen, Tween Reads

Lumberjanes Fans! Encyclopedia Lumberjanica is coming!

Lumberjanes and Lumberjills, BOOM! Studios has got a book for you!

From the publisher:

BOOM! Studios announced THE ENCYCLOPEDIA LUMBERJANICA: An Illustrated Guide to the Hardcore Lady-Types of Lumberjanes, from writer Susan Coiner-Collier, gathering a veritable who’s who of famous and incredible folks throughout history who have inspired the Lumberjanes, available in stores September 2020.

Step inside the world of the New York Times best-selling Lumberjanes like never before with an illustrated look into the lives of the lady-types that the Lumberjanes have taken as their role models – along with fun facts and humorous insights from the Lumberjanes themselves!

From The Arts, Sciences, Activism, Politics, and Social Work to Groundbreakers and the Generally Rad, you’ll learn all about incredible figures such as Juliette Gordon Low, bell hooks, Bessie Coleman, Sally Ride, and more! THE ENCYCLOPEDIA LUMBERJANICA is perfect for teachers and caregivers, and an unforgettable keepsake for Lumberjanes fans.

“What better way to celebrate the Lumberjanes than to put the spotlight on the role models who best embody the spirit of the camp and its residents,” said Jeanine Schaefer, Executive Editor, BOOM! Studios. “Lumberjanes of all ages can dive deep into the exciting lives and accomplishments of real life heroes who have inspired hardcore lady-types everywhere!”

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA LUMBERJANICA is the latest release from BOOM! Studios’ award-winning BOOM! Box imprint, home to groundbreaking original series such as Lumberjanes by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooklyn Allen, and Noelle Stevenson; Giant Days by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Max Sarin; The Avant-Guards by Carly Usdin and Noah Hayes; Smooth Criminals by Kirsten ‘Kiwi’ Smith, Kurt Lustgarten, and Leisha Riddel; Fence by C.S. Pacat and Johanna The Mad; and Goldie Vance by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams. 

Print copies of THE ENCYCLOPEDIA LUMBERJANICA will be available for sale in September 2020 at local comic book shops (use comicshoplocator.com to find the nearest one), bookstores or at the BOOM! Studios webstore. Digital copies can be purchased from content providers, including comiXology, iBooks, Google Play, and Madefire.

For more on LUMBERJANES and other projects from BOOM! Studios, stay tuned to www.boom-studios.com and follow @boomstudios on Twitter.

Posted in Uncategorized

Build up your 5-Minute story libraries!

5-Minute Story collections are big news in my library. Parents love being able to get a volume full of storybooks and only carry one book home. Sometimes, they take the place of the 3 or 4 picture books that are out at the moment, so kids can still take home their favorite story. They’re great gift ideas, too; they economical in an age where we’re laying out upwards of $15 for a picture book. I’ve got a couple to crow about here.

5-Minute Stories by Margaret Wise Brown, (Sept. 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684128495

Ages 1-6

For anyone who thought Margaret Wise Brown only wrote Goodnight, Moon and The Runaway Bunny, I have news for you: publishers have been working with her estate to publish recently discovered books with new artists for a few years now. This collection of 5-Minute Stories includes eight stories by Ms. Brown, and all have that wonderfully calm cadence that kids love to listen to. Most rhyme, all have the repetition of concepts and sounds that help kids grasp the narrative and jump in after a couple of pages. The stories explore concepts and seasons (Count to 10 With a Mouse; A Song for All Seasons; Sleep Little Angel; All the Families); adventure (Away in My Airplane); nature (The Tickly Spider); and soothe at bedtime (Sleep Little Angel; All the Families; Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears; Wish Upon a Dream). They’re fully illustrated and unabridged, so readers will lose nothing from the picture book to this collection.

It’s a lovely anthology of stories, illustrated with calming pastels and muted colors, featuring adorable mice, spiders, bears, butterflies, and kids. 5-Minute Stories by Margaret Wise Brown is a good volume to keep on hand for your readers, a nice way to introduce reaaders to Margaret Wise Brown beyond her two most famous stories, and a good gift idea to hang onto, whether it’s for a baby shower or for the holidays.

 

Disney Stories for 2-Year-Olds, (Sept. 2019, Studio Fun International), $12.99, ISBN: 9780794444341

Ages 2-6

Who loves Mickey Mouse? Any of your Disney fans will love this anthology of 14 stories, all starring the original Mickey Mouse crew: Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Huey, Duey, and Louie, Daisy, and Pluto are all here. Stories run about 12-14 pages long; each story is brightly illustrated, has bold, brief sentences, and are good for kids starting at 2 and going up to at least 6. Kids will love seeing Mickey and his friends go camping, help put on a parade, visit an airport, and give a cow a bath! Throw in some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse songs in between stories for extra fun, and have Mickey and friends coloring sheets available.

These are especially helpful for libraries like mine, where many Disney/Mickey books are hard to find, or in formats that get quickly beaten up in circulation. A nice volume like this is a quick and easy go-to for anyone who wants Mickey Mouse stories, and a nice all-in-one to have on hand at home.

 

Disney Stories for 3-Year-Olds, (Sept. 2019, Studio Fun International), $12.99, ISBN: 9780794444358

Ages 3-7

More Disney 5-minute stories! Slightly longer and wordier, these 14 stories are simplified versions of favorite Disney movies, including classic favorites like 101 Dalmations, Lady and the Tramp, and Alice and Wonderland, and newer picks like Aladdin, The Lion King, and Hercules. The colorful pictures depict favorite scenes from each movie, and stories run about 12-14 pages long; sentences are slightly longer and there’s more text on each page, making this a good start to read with 3-year-olds, and to keep reading all the way up through the early grades. I’ve been reading through these with my 2nd grader, and he loves them – he can read most of them on his own, and I love the chance to curl up on the couch with him and read these to him at the end of a long day. Familiarity with the movies brings the chance to talk about the scenes as you read (fair warning: Bambi and Dumbo are in here. My family knows I have refused these two movies since I was 5, and this goes for the stories, too. Get a stunt reader in for you if you need to.) Pair with Disney coloring pages, or pull up your Disney DVDs and make an afternoon of it.

As with Disney Stories for 2-Year-Olds, this is a nice anthology to have handy for kids who want to read through their favorite Disney movies, but are finding the pricing for each book a little much or just can’t find each book available.

Any of the 5-Minute Stories are great gift ideas, great anytime books, and handy go-to books on your storytime shelves.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Three graphic novels you should NOT miss!

It’s been a busy few months! I realized that some really good graphic novels passed their book birthdays, but that’s no reason not to shout about them! I’ve got a little something for most here – see what’s good!

Aquicorn Cove, by Katie O’Neill, (Oct. 2018, Oni Press), $12.99, ISBN: 9781620105290

Ages 8-12

The third outing from Princess Princess Ever After and Tea Dragon Society author/illustrator Katie O’Neill is another hit! A girl named Lana and her widowed father return to their seaside hometown to help her Aunt Lana – her mother’s sister – clean up after a storm devastated the community and discovers more about her mother, her aunt, and the magical underwater creatures whose fate is tied directly to the surface. A tender, thoughtful story about humanity and our relationship to our world, Aquicorn Cove explores at grief and loss, sustainability, and community. This timely – and yet, timeless – story has soft, warm artwork with lush scenery and gentle faces; diversity above and below the water, and a sweet, hinted-at relationship between Aunt Lana and the queen of the aquicorns. Put this one on your shelves if you don’t have it already. Also makes a great holiday gift.

Katie O’Neill is a two-time Eisner Award winner and a Harvey Award winner.

 

Beautiful Darkness, by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët, (Oct. 2018, Drawn & Quarterly), $17.95, ISBN: 9781770463363

Ages 13+

Do not let a first glance at this cover deceive you: this is NOT a kids’ title. Take a closer look at that cover. That’s no leaf the little blonde pixie is standing next to: it’s a human hand. The story itself is grisly: what would happen if a little girl died in a forest, and a small, vicious, fairy society sprang up around her? Originally released in French in 2014, this is a dark fantasy; an anti-fairy tale that will grab the eyeballs of your horror readers. The sweet artwork is in direct conflict with the grisly, often bleak storyline; small moments within each panel pop up to remind us that we are not in an adorable, cotton candy fairy world: the fairies ransack an opened purse, and we see a little boot lying nearby; a character sits, hungry, in an outstretched hand, surrounded by worms, as she waits for food. The watercolor artwork is stunning, which makes the story of backstabbing, betrayal, and murder all the more nightmarish. This one is a headtrip, but worth the ride for horror and dark fantasy readers. Clearly mark this one so it stays in your teen or adult graphic novel areas. Beautiful Darkness has a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

 

Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass, by Lilah Sturges/Illustrated by polterink, (Oct. 2018, Boom! Studios), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1684152520

Ages 9+

One of my favorite comic book titles – seriously, Lumberjanes always brings the goods – has a brand new original graphic novel! Lumberjanes, for those not in the know, is basically the X-Files meets summer camp as a group of girls in the Roanoke House at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types: Friendship to the Max! In this installment, the Janes are off on an orienteering outing (finding your way with a map and compass), but one of the compasses is a little… off. When the friends start disappearing one by one, Molly knows something is up – and when she meets a strange female explorer who claims that she has no need of friends, she knows something is up! The Eisner- and GLAAD Award-winning series explores sensitive topics about relationships, gender, and sexuality in an upbeat, fun environment; this latest adventure is no different. The awkwardness of going from being “one” to “partnered” is a main plot point here as Molly’s and Mal’s relationship develops; April even bestows a “ship name” on the duo, which really makes it weird for poor Molly. Throw in a lost in time explorer, a mysterious compass, and some automaton butlers, and you’ve got a true Lumberjanes adventure. Usually a full-color comic, Infernal Compass is in black and white, with green accents to highlight the supernatural bits. The comic’s first issue is a bonus, included at the end, to orient new readers. Stock up on your Lumberjanes trades if you don’t already have them: this is a middle grade-and-up series (and there are middle grade books, too!) you want to have available to your readers.