Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Graphic novels: real-life stories

More graphic novels to talk about, this time, real-life stories. Some are realistic fiction, some are inspired by moments in the author’s life. All are great reading!

My Own World, by Mike Holmes, (June 2021, First Second), $12.99, ISBN: 9781250208286
Ages 8-13
Inspired by events in his childhood, Wings of Fire and Secret Coders illustrator Mike Holmes delivers a graphic memoir with a splash of fantasy. Nathan is alone, but for his older brother, Ben. His other siblings and the neighborhood bullies torment him, but he always looks to Ben to spend time with; Ben is the one person who gets him. Unfortunately, there are things coming up that take Ben farther and farther away from Nathan, leaving him to create a fantasy world to escape to when the real world intrudes too much. A study in grief, loss, and healing, My Own World is a better reading choice for middle schoolers than younger readers; there’s trauma contained within these pages. It’s an excellent starting point for discussions on the lingering damage done by bullying, loneliness, and coping with loss. The real world is depicted in flat colors, but Nathan’s fantasy world is alive with color, vibrancy, and engaging characters that Nathan creates to spend time with.
My Own World has a starred review from Booklist.
Jukebox, by Nidhi Chanani, (June 2021, First Second), $14.99, ISBN: 9781250156372
Ages 10 to 14
Nidhi Chanani is amazing in her ability to create magical travels using everyday objects. She infused a shawl with the power to fantastical India in her 2017 award-winner, Pashmina; now, she weaves a story about a jukebox that can transport listeners to a moment in time, inspired by the albums they play, in Jukebox. Shaheen is a girl who feels like she and her mom come in second to her father’s love of – obsession with? – music, particularly with albums. He never seems to be present to hear her when she’s talking; he just wants to talk about the newest album he’s on the hunt for, and he spends hours searching record bins for new additions to his collection. When he doesn’t return home one night, Shaheen and her cousin, Tannaz, start a search, only to discover a glowing jukebox at the local record store where Dad spent so much of his time. A Bessie Smith record spins on the turntable, and the girls find themselves transported to Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom in 1929! The song ends, returning them to their present time and place, and the chase through musical history is on. The girls spin different records, visiting key moments in time. from political marches to landmark concerts, while searching for Shaheen’s father. Will they be able to find him before morning? Jukebox is an incredible journey through our history using music as the vehicle. Sections are organized by album cover, with Shaheen’s father’s notes on the albums and social climate, giving readers more context as they prepare to jump into a new decade: Bessie Smith’s section includes notes on the album’s 1929 release, the oncoming Depression, and a 1929 Oscar awards program; Nina Simone’s Black Gold includes a Golden State Comic Con program and a newspaper with an Earth Day headline, all of which happened in 1970. Notes from Shaheen’s father mention her career and marriage eroding in the 1960s, and the music industry’s punishment for her political music.
Brilliant storytelling and an essential look at the ties between music and social change. Visit Nidhi Chanani’s website for printables and more about her books, and get multiple copies of this book ready – your readers deserve them! If you’re doing a travel themed Summer Reading program this year, you couldn’t ask for a better concept: pick songs, get some facts, and create slideshows; invite readers to offer their own insight. What song was popular the year they graduated from kindergarten? What song makes them think of family? A favorite friend? Invite readers to talk about music from their culture that others may not know. There’s so much you can do here!
Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm/Illustrated by Savanna Ganucheau, (June 2021, Random House Graphic), $12.99, ISBN: 9780593126301
Ages 8-12
This graphic novel adaptation of Jennifer Holm’s 2010 Newbery Honor-winning novel is simply gorgeous. Set in 1935, eleven-year-old Turtle is a girl who’s had some tough times. She’s more level-headed than her mother, loves the movies, and really doesn’t like Shirley Temple. While figuring out where life will take her next, her mother sends Turtle to Key West, Florida, to live with her aunt when she takes a job housekeeping for a woman who doesn’t like children, and Turtle has never met her aunt or the many cousins she’s now living with. She starts getting into the swing of things, following the “Diaper Gang”: neighborhood boys with a babysitting club and a secret diaper rash formula that puts them in high demand. As she gets into a day-to-day groove, she learns some family secrets that leave her wanting more: more of her mother’s past, more of her family history, just… more. A family study, a piece of historical fiction that examines life in Depression-Era Florida, and a strong, smart female protagonist make this a great enough story, and then you Savanna Ganucheau’s artwork: filled with lush and humid outdoor spreads, we get a picture of 1930s life in Key West. Turtle’s cousins run barefoot through their day, while Turtle insists on her shoes. Babysitting moments are laugh-out loud funny, and Turtle interactions with a cantankerous senior citizen will make readers chuckle and admire the girl’s tenacity. Inspired by Jennifer Holm’s great-grandmother’s life in Key West, this is an adaptation that your readers will love and will absolutely gain the story some new fans.
Chunky, by Yehudi Mercado, (June 2021, Katherine Tegen Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9780062972781
Ages 8-12
A memoir of Yehudi Mercado’s Mexican-Jewish upbringing, Chunky is more incredible storytelling. Set in the 1980s, Hudi has one lung after a childhood battle with lung disease, he’s overweight, and he loves video games, science fiction and fantasy, and being the funny kid. His parents want him to lose weight and be healthier, and try to push him toward different sports to get him more active. Hudi, not particularly in love with the idea, goes along with his parents to make them happy, but creates an imaginary friend: a pink-furred   cheerleader/mascot called Chunky, to cheer him on as he tries – and flops – at baseball, swimming, and tennis. Chunky is there to tell Yehudi he’s better at comedy and drawing; he’s Hudi’s inner compass, telling him to stay true to himself. When Hudi’s father loses his job and has to move to another state to find work, he finds himself faced with a crossroads and joins the football team in a last bid to fit the image his parents want to have of him. Chunky is more than a memoir; it’s a story of trying to please others before yourself; it’s a story of using humor as deflection; it’s a story of listening to your true self. Hudi is funny – he can’t help but crack up people he comes into contact with, especially medical professionals – and he’s pretty game to try anything his parents want, even if his heart may not be 100% committed. He’s good-natured and kind, which makes his break with Chunky painful when he attempts one more sport to satisfy his parents. We want funny Hudi back! We want to go get ice cream with him and feel like everything will work out! The artwork is bright, colorful, upbeat, and loaded with great details, like Hudi’s t-shirts (console video games! Chewbacca!) and his room, which his father constantly redecorates to affirm his dedication to the latest sport Hudi’s involved with – and that Chunky and Hudi take great pleasure in defacing time and time again. I can gush about Chunky all day, so let me just say that this is another must-add to your shelves.
Learn more about Yehudi Mercado and get a look at Chunky at his website. Chunky has a starred review from School Library Journal.
Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Babymouse comes to picture books!

I’m a huge Babymouse fan. She’s smart, she’s a bit sassy, she’s a great read for kids. The Babymouse graphic novels do gangbusters, no matter what library I’m at, and my kids’ book club had a Babymouse discussion that ended up being more about laughing and talking about the crazy things Babymouse (and Squish, her graphic novel counterpart) come up with. Today, I’m super excited, because Babymouse is coming to picture books!

babymouse

Little Babymouse and the Christmas Cupcakes will be out in October, but I was able to get a sneak peek at a few pages, thanks to Edelweiss, where I get a lot of my advance reader copies. The book is colorful, as opposed to Babymouse’s 2-color graphic novels, so this will get me a lot of mileage at storytime. The book is still set up like a graphic novel, with word balloons, narration boxes, and mini panels popping up here and there.

babymouse_1

Here’s the story: Babymouse ate all of the Christmas cookies her mom made for Santa, so now she can make him something he really wants—CUPCAKES! But a dragon rears its fiery head, and Sir Babymouse has to defeat him to save Christmas – or, you know, a cupcake or two.

I love that the Holms are bringing graphic novels to different formats. Their board books, I’m Grumpy and I’m Sunny, are adorable and perfect introductions to the graphic novel medium for babies and toddlers. Get your kids started on comics early!

Little Babymouse and the Christmas Cupcakes, by Jennifer L. Holm/Illustrated by Matthew Holm, (Oct. 2016, Random House Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9781101937433

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Middle School, Tween Reads

The Fourteenth Goldfish – family bonding through science!

fourteenth goldfishThe Fourteenth Goldfish, by Jennifer L. Holm (Random House Children’s, August 2014). $16.99, ISBN: 9780375870644

Recommended for ages 10-16

Eleven year-old Ellie isn’t a big fan of change – she only just found out that her goldfish, the one she thought lived to a ripe old age, was a series of 13 goldfish. Her mother didn’t have the heart to tell her otherwise. So when this awkward teenaged boy named Melvin shows up, claiming to be her grandfather – he certainly dresses the part – she’s thrown for a loop.

Grandpa Melvin has figured out the secret to reversing aging, and he can’t wait to release his results. Ellie finds herself reading more about science, and the men and women whose discoveries changed the world – but she also learns that there are consequences for every discovery, no matter how groundbreaking. Now, if her grandfather could just get out of detention, she could share her thoughts with him.

Jennifer L. Holm is best known for her Babymouse and Squish graphic novel series, which I love. The Fourteenth Goldfish just continues her winning streak. The book is fantastic. The pacing is perfect for middle-graders, and they won’t want to put it down. She’s given readers some memorable characters, most notably, the irascible Grandpa Melvin – the misunderstood genius, the cantankerous old man in a kid’s body; Holm takes what could have been an arrogant, annoying character, and gives him depth and pathos. Ellie’s relationship with her grandfather grows roots as she learns more about his life, and even though she (and, through narration, we readers) understands his motivations, finds a strength within herself to stand apart. It’s a great coming of age story on one level, and a sweet tale about family on another.

Make sure The Fourteenth Goldfish is on your bookshelves when it hits stores on August 26th. This is the back-to-school novel to read.