Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Middle School, Teen, Tween Reads

Quick Takes: Graphic Novels

This is a graphic novel summer: so many good ones hitting shelves week after week! Perfect for Summer Reading and anytime reading, there are some gorgeous, fun, fantastic stories to be found.

Ham Helsing #1: Vampire Hunter, by Rich Moyer, (June 2021, Crown Books for Young Readers), $12.99, ISBN: 9780593308912

Ages 8-12

Ham Helsing is a young descendant of a long line of vampire hunters who never seem to live quite long, usually because they make rather silly decisions. Ham was always content to let his older brother, Chad, wear the monster hunting mantle; he preferred more creative pursuits, like painting and poetry, but Chad’s daredevil acts led to… well, Ham is the new monster hunter in the family, so he’s off to hunt a vampire. The only problem is, the vampire he’s out to get isn’t what you’d expect. Ham Helsing: Vampire Hunter is the first in a planned trilogy and is a fun, not-at-all scary story about learning that people aren’t always what they seem, and that it’s always good to have friends to back you up. The action is animated, the dialogue is fun and witty, and there are robotic knights, sight gags, a toddler werewolf, and animated bacon. What more can you ask from a graphic novel?

Author Rich Moyer’s website has links to more of his illustration work, social media, and school visit information. Get a look at some more of Ham Helsing at Random House’s website.

 

 

Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo Book 3: Battle of the Bards, by James Parks & Ben Costa, (Apr. 2021, Knopf Books for Young Readers), $16.99, ISBN: 9780399556203

Ages 11-14

A fantasy more geared toward middle- and high schoolers rather than middle graders, the third volume of the Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo book continues the adventures of the skeletal bard and his jelly-like friend, Gelatinous Goo. In this adventure, Rickety Stitch – an animated skeleton who retains his love of music and his gentle soul, despite having no memory of who he was when he was alive – and Goo travel with an acting troupe to perform in a music competition, but Rickety discovers another performer, a woman named Canta, who brings back memories of his past. It becomes clear that the competition is a distraction from some seedy behavior underneath the city, and Rickety and Goo find themselves right in the middle of the action. The story is full of action and adventure and manages to tug at readers’ heartstrings with Rickety’s genuine tale of loss and memory. Middle schoolers and early high schoolers in particular will love this great wrap-up to a fantasy tale. It helps to read the first two before beginning the third; you may feel lost otherwise, as there is a lot of world-building and character development that’s gone on thus far. Great for your fantasy section.

Check out the Land of Eem website for Rickety Stitch and Eem-related role-playing games and sign up for a newsletter!

 

Apple of My Pie, by Mika Song, (June 2021, Random House Graphic), $12.99, ISBN: 9781984895851

Ages 5-8

The follow-up to last year’s Donut Feed the Squirrels, the newest Norma and Belly adventure is an adorable romp to save Pops, who falls onto a truck and heads to the apple orchard where he may end up in a pie! Norma, Belly, and their friend, B, are on the case in this sweet story, perfect for newly confident readers. The watercolor artwork is colorful but not overwhelming, with lots of calming earth colors and cute animal artwork. A school trip to the orchard provides some extra fun as the squirrels dash around the kids on their race to find Pops first.

Mika Song’s website has all sorts of treasures for readers, including extra comics, a newsletter signup, and printable activity sheets! Great to bundle with other graphic novels for young readers, like Narwhal and Jelly, Blue Barry and Pancakes, Fox and Chick, and Shark and Bot. You can also mix up the formats and include other books, like Mo Willems’s Unlimited Squirrels series, or Mélanie Watt’s Scaredy Squirrel series (graphic novels are forthcoming, too: future post!).

Apple of My Pie has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Much, much more to come: let these three start you off!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Halloween’s a-comin’!

I loooooove Halloween. I’m one of those wackos that start decorating the first week of October (I’ll be going out to the garage to get my decorations tonight), and I’ve already started stockpiling goodies to stock for my trick-or-treaters at home and the library, plus goodies to hand out to my kiddo’s class. For Halloween storytime, I hand out little trick or treat bags with a mini-coloring book, like this Five Little Pumpkins rhyme from DLTK, some stickers, and a little trinket or two.

Halloween storytimes are the best, because I go nuts. I dress up, we sing great Halloween songs and dance to videos, and I stockpile Halloween stories to read and display. So here are some of the newer books I have on my Halloween storytime pile.

Pick a Pumpkin, by Patricia Toht/Illustrated by Jarvis, (July 2019, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536207644

Ages 3-7

The folks who brought us 2017’s Pick a Pine Tree are back with a Halloween story from the pumpkin patch. This rhyming story brings a family to the pumpkin patch, where they pick the perfect pumpkins; bringing them home, they assemble a pumpkin carving crew, their tools, and create the coolest Jack O’Lanterns you could wish for! The kids don their Halloween costumes for a night on the town while the Jack O’Lanterns guard their homes. Easily readable, with a soothing rhyme cadence, this is perfect storytime reading. The pencil, chalk, and paint artwork uses warm and vibrant Fall colors, and creates fun Jack O’Lantern faces for the kids to love. Don’t miss this one; you’ll come back to it for regular holiday reading. Have Jack O’Lantern coloring sheets ready to hand out post-storytime.

Pick a Pumpkin has a starred review from Booklist.

 

Where’s the Witch?, by Ingela P. Arrrhenius, (July 2019, Nosy Crow), $8.99, ISBN: 9781536207538

Ages 0-3

Christmas authors are getting into the Halloween spirit this year! Ingela P. Arrenhius’ board book, Where’s Santa?, was perfect toddler holiday reading and exploring last year. This year, she introduces kids to Halloween concepts, using her bold, bright, expressive art to send kids searching for Halloween icons: a witch, a skeleton, a spider, and vampire, all hidden behind shaped felt. The final spread asks, “Where are you?” and hides a mirror behind a felt ghost, letting toddlers see themselves for the final reveal. These books are adorable, and little fingers will love exploring and discovering their Halloween friends. Pair this with A Mischief of Monsters for a monstrously good storytime! (I know, that was painful, but it was right there.) Order two if you can, and keep one in your storytime collection: this one will get beaten up in circulation.

Give Me Back My Bones!, by Kim Norman/Illustrated by Bob Kolar, (July 2019, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763688417

Ages 4-8

A rhyming anatomy lesson and hide-and-seek all in one book! A stormy night has wreaked havoc on a poor pirate skeleton, whose bones have been scattered all over the sea floor. The rhyme incorporates proper biological terms for the bones, including mandible, metacarpals, scapula, and femur. The endpapers lay it all out for you, too: the front endpapers feature the scattered skeleton, with all his parts labeled; the back endpapers have our skeletal friend reassembled, with everything labeled so kids can see how they come together. As the rhyme proceeds through the book, encourage kids to look for the old buccaneer’s bones, and for any other pirate gear he may be missing: his hat, sword, earring, peg leg, and more have all been scattered to the seven seas, too! The digital artwork is bright, bold, and fun, showing the skeleton reassemble amid curious marine life, all of whom have taken ownership of the shiny skeletal treasures. The cover of the book doubles as a poster, with our pirate skeleton assembled and labeled. Could be a fun decoration! Kids will love it if you read this in an improvised pirate voice, just make sure you have some water nearby to soothe your throat. That pirate rasp can leave you parched.

Don’t miss this one. Give Me Back My Bones! has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Book Review: The Spooky Hour, by Tony Mitton/illus. by Guy Parker-Rees (Orchard Books, 2004)

spooky hourRecommended for ages 3-7

Spooky Hour is a counting story – counting down, rather than a counting up – about a dog and a cat who witness spooky creatures on their way to a party at the strike of twelve. The dog and cat follow the creatures: eleven witches, ten ghosts, nine skeletons, and more, all the way to the spooky castle doors, where Mitch and Titch, the witchy twins, are waiting to welcome them to the big, spooky party, where they feast on one gigantic pumpkin pie. The cartoon illustrations are fun, even silly, but never scary, and younger audiences will enjoy the anticipation of counting down to the party. The full-bleed images have a great deal of action going on in the frames: flying ghosts, a  line of skeletons dancing into a forest, observed by owls, trolls tromping through a forest as the cat and dog hide behind a log. The font is black or yellow – whatever needs to pop on the page’s background – and looks similar to a typewriter font.

The book has interactive elements that make it a good candidate for a Halloween read-aloud. The story itself is written in rhyme, and each creature has a sound attached to its action that audiences can mimic and act out: the witches shriek, the ghosts swirl,whirl, and say, “whoooo”, the skeletons dance and go clickety-clack. Attendees can come in costume and receive a trick or treat bag with some candy and a small toy, and there can be a jack-o-lantern craft for children to color. Time permitting, they can cut out shapes for jack-o-lantern faces and glue them on. Perpetual Preschool has Halloween songs that the children can sing after the story, and there are CDs with Halloween music, like Kids Bop Halloween, which can play during the craft time, and children can receive a Halloween hand stamp before they go home.