Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade

Lint Boy – a graphic tale

Lint Boy, by Aileen Leitjen, (June 2017, Clarion Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9780544528604

Recommended for readers 8-12

A little lint boy is born in the back of a dryer. Shortly after, a lint bear joins him. The two are happy, living in the warmth of the dryer, when two scary hands reach in and snatch out Lint Bear! Lint Boy goes on an adventure to save his brother, which puts him in the hands of a mean old woman, Mrs. Pinchnsqueeze; formerly a young girl named Tortura, who has tortured and ruined dolls since she was a child. Lint Boy manages to rally the other imprisoned toys and fight for their freedom.

Told with washed-out colors and nonlinear storytelling, Lint Boy is a rousing tale of friendship. Lint Boy is willing to risk venturing into a scary, unknown world – and put himself at personal risk – to save his friend, to whom he refers to as his brother, Lint Bear. There are some scary moments for younger readers, particularly when readers see the hanging cages of imprisoned toys for the first time, and when readers witness Mrs. Pinchnsqueeze cutting up Lint Boy’s hair. He refuses to give up hope or give in to despair, and inspires his fellow prisoners to revolt and overthrow their tormentor.

Perfect for every reader who loves Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, and David Walliams, with its macabre-yet-adorable storytelling, Lint Boy is a good addition to graphic novel collections that enjoy a little dark fantasy. Booktalk this one with Coraline for extra fun.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Bug in a Vacuum takes an interesting look at the five stages of grief

bugBug in a Vacuum, by Mélanie Watt (Aug. 2015, Tundra), $21.99, ISBN: 9781770496453

Recommended for ages 4-8

A bug flies through a window and through a house. He settles on a globe, only to be sucked into a vacuum cleaner! He moves through the five stages of grief, as postulated by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross: denial, bargaining, anger, despair, and eventually, acceptance. In a parallel story, we follow the family dog, whose stuffed toy has also become trapped in the vacuum cleaner; the dog moves through its own stages of grief.

I have to admit, at first, I was a little confused by the book’s message – it’s adorable, and the material is presented in fun manner – but the content is about moving through grief, so how would I position this to kids? After a second reading, I realized that it’s not necessarily about death – it’s about loss, and what better than a lost toy, or a bug’s exaggerated reactions, to explain that to children? My toddler goes through the five stages of grief every night when it’s bedtime, so I really need to open up my thinking when I approach new material.

This is an interesting way of explaining the blues, the grief process, however you term it, to young children. The mixed media artwork gives the art texture and depth, really drawing the reader into the story. Retro advertisements for household products introduce each new stage. The bug’s word balloons and gestures equal the intensity of each stage – anger is big and bold; acceptance is smaller, thinner.

This would provide an interesting read-aloud. Let the kids tell you what’s going on and how they think the bug and the dog are feeling. Ask the kids, when did you feel sad? What made you feel that way? What makes you angry? Phrase each stage as a chance for exploring feelings. This would pair really well with a book on feelings or emotions.

Melanie Watt is the author of the award-winning children’s book series, Scaredy Squirrel, which is also a television show on Cartoon Network.