Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Middle School, Teen, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

A graphic novel on every shelf!

More graphic novels are hitting shelves in time for school, and that makes me happy! For me, it’s like seeing an endorsement that graphic novels are finally being seen as “real” reading! (I mean, you knew it, I knew it, lots of folx knew it, but still…) Let’s see what we’ve got for each age group, coming right up.

We Have a Playdate, by Frank Dormer, (Aug. 2021, Harry N. Abrams), $12.99, ISBN: 9781419752735

Ages 6-10

This intermediate graphic novel is perfect for all your Narwhal and Jelly and Blue, Barry, and Pancakes fans. Tuna the Narwhal, Margo the Bird, and Noodle the Snake have a playdate at the park, where they meet a hostile robot and a bear named Ralph, who quickly joins their playgroup. The story unfolds in four chapters that takes readers – and the group of friends – to each area of the playground: The Slide, The Swings, The Monkey Bars, and The SeeSaw, and the action is both hilarious and written with an eye to being a good playground friend. There’s playful language, like “fizzled their neenee bopper” or “zizzled my zipzoo” for playground injuries, and laugh-out-loud moments when the group tries to figure out ways to “help” one another, like scaring Ralph off the slide to get him to go down, or tying Noodle onto the swing to help them stay on. Cartoon artwork and colorful panels will make this a big favorite with you intermediate and emerging readers.

Visit Frank Dormer’s webpage and see more of his work, including the 10-foot monsters he drew to guard New Haven’s library in 2015!

 

 

 
Hooky, by Míriam Bonastre Tur, (Sept. 2021, Etch/Clarion Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9780358468295
 
Ages 8-12
 
I’m always happy when an online comic makes it to print. Many of my library kids only have computer access here at the library, so print comics and graphic novels are the way to reach them best (also, they’re here to do homework and play Minecraft and Roblox; reading comics online isn’t always on their radar). Hooky is a compiled comic from WEBTOON, and follows twin siblings Dani and Dorian, who’ve missed the bus to magic school (no Whomping Willow here) and don’t know the way there. Looks like they’re going to miss that first year of school – and wow, will their parents be upset! They decide to search for a mentor, which leads to a score of amusing situations; cleaning up the Huntsman to “steal Snow White’s heart” by making her fall in love with him is just the tip of the iceberg. But there’s trouble ahead, and the twins need to find a way to clear their names and heal their kingdom when more complicated challenges arise.
 
Illustrated in manga style, this is going to be big with my middle graders and middle schoolers. They’re manga fans, and finding graphic novels incorporating manga artwork is a great way to get them to stretch their reading interests and introduce them to new titles. Plus, it’s fantasy, with some similar tropes, like magic twins, magic school, and bringing unity to a divided society; all familiar fantasy scenarios that readers will feel comfortable setting down with. The artwork has some truly outstanding moments, like Dorian standing atop books as he works in his aunt’s library; the relationship between the siblings is relatable as it moves from affectionate to teasing to bickering and back again. This release of Hooky includes additional content you won’t find on the WebToon page, making it even more attractive to readers. Give this one a look.
 
 

 

Other Boys, by Damian Alexander, (Sept. 2021, First Second), $21.99, ISBN: 9781250222824
 
Ages 10-14
 
An autobiographical middle school graphic novel about being the new kid, crushes, and coming out, Other Boys absolutely needs space in your graphic novel memoir sections. Damian decides that he’s not going to speak when he enters seventh grade. He’s the new kid, and was bullied at his last school, so it’s just easier to not speak at all, he figures. But it doesn’t work, because Damian isn’t like other boys in his school: he lives with his grandparents; his mom is dead and his father isn’t in the picture, and his family is low-income. Plus, Damian doesn’t like a lot of things that other boys in his school like: he likes flowers in his hair; he’d rather play with Barbie than with G.I. Joe, acting out stories rather than playing fighting games. Damian doesn’t feel like he fits in as a boy or a girl, and now… he’s got a crush on another boy.
 
Other Boys is a middle school story along the lines of Mike Curato’s Flamer and Jarrett Krosoczka’s Hey, Kiddo. It draws you in with first person storytelling and a narrator that you want to befriend; it places you next to Damian in the narrative, walking with him and seeing his story unfold in front of you. Put this on your shelves – there are kids who need this book.
 

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate

Webcomics on Wednesday: The Bug Zapper!

“In a town full of bug villains, it’s up to one superhero to keep them all in line!” With that, we begin the saga of The Bug Zapper, a superhero who defends his neighborhood against buggy bad guys like Butterfly Bob, who defaces public parks, and a car thief who goes by the Mean Mosquito. But has Bug Zapper met his match when he meets Bumblebeezy, a bank robber who teams up with the Bear-acuda?

The Bug Zapper started life as a webcomic, and has since moved onto books, but there’s a nice, extended preview available at writer/artist Tom Eaton’s website, and The Bug Zapper Tumblr has sneak peeks at art and appearances for kids who are interested in following. It’s a good series for younger graphic novel readers – Kindergarten through third grade – that features a fun superhero and supervillains that are more goofy than terrible. Bug Zapper faces off against bugs, superheroes, robots, and bears, in his future issues, but the extended preview offers his origin story: we all need to start somewhere, right?

Give The Bug Zapper a space on your webcomics list, and see how the kids respond! The first two collected issues of The Bug Zapper are available for purchase on Tom Eaton’s website.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Webcomics on Wednesday: Dylan Campbell’s Scared by the Bell

I’ve been meaning to do something like this for a while, now: create a list of webcomics that I could post by the computers at my library, so the kids could check them out and maybe discover a comic to follow. They’re huge graphic novel fans, and this would give them something new to read while they’re waiting for the next volume of Amulet/Pokemon/anything by Raina Telgemeier to publish.

I started going through my inbox, and lo and behold (and with much embarrassment), I found an email from Dylan Campbell, a creator who let me know about his new webcomic, Scared by the Bell, back in January 2017. It is insane, how one thinks, “Oh, I’ll get to that in a second”, and a year later, it’s still in the inbox. But the good news is, there are three issues online now! But I’ll get to that. First, Scared by the Bell.

Peter is a kid on his first day at Lighthouse Middle School, but this is no ordinary, run of the mill school. Peter’s classmates include Maggie (a Medusa), Vlad (a vampire), Frank (Frankenstein), and Marv (a werewolf), for starters. Principal Merlin takes Peter under his wing to explain a little bit about Lighthouse, but Peter’s still baffled: how did he get here, and how is he going to make it through middle school when his classmates want to snack on him?

Scared by the Bell has three complete issues under its belt, and Dylan Campbell had a successful Kickstarter earlier this year, all great signs. The art is cartoony and fun, and the classmates are familiar and inspired; there’s a Cthulhu-faced kid (and you know how I love my Lovecraftian monsters); a mummy, a skeleton, even a scary looking teddy bear. Now that the infamous Goldilocks has also joined the crew, I’m looking forward to even more adventures. Scared by the Bell updates on Fridays – a great way to end the week! For Spanish speakers, Dylan offers “Asustado por la Compana” (http://asustadoporlacampana.smackjeeves.com/), and translates it himself, which is pretty fantastic. He welcomes comments and suggestions!

Also – I have a Spanish version of “Scared by the Bell” called “Asustado por la Compana” that updates every Friday as well.  You can find the link to the Spanish version over here at: http://asustadoporlacampana.smackjeeves.com/  

 

 

Dylan, I am so sorry that it’s taken almost a year to get on board with your comic, but Scared by the Bell is going on my list of webcomics. I like the writing, I like the character interaction, and I enjoy the artwork.

If you’ve got graphic novel readers, let me know if webcomics are working for your readers!

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

Support Monster Journalism! Check out The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo!

margo_1The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo, by Drew Weing, (Sept. 2016, First Second), $15.99, ISBN: 9781626723399

Recommended for ages 8+

Charles F. Thompson just moved to Echo City with his family. He’s not thrilled, especially with their new digs: a creepy building his dad will be refinishing as the family lives there. Charles – an avid blogger – swears there’s a monster in his room, and he’s not wrong. Some of his toys go missing, and he knows he didn’t just misplace them. Charles is seriously freaked out: what if the monster tries to eat him?! A neighbor quietly slips him Margo Maloo’s number, and Charles’ whole world changes: Margo is a monster mediator. The monsters all know her; she knows all the monsters. She helps smooth relations between Charles and Marcus, the troll that lives in his building. Turns out Marcus is really upset that these awful humans are moving in and messing with his stuff! Once Margo sorts things out, and Charles has been exposed to this new world right under his nose, he’s hooked – freedom of the press demands that he write about this! Margo firmly puts the kibosh on Drew’s reporting, but lets him tag along on her missions. The Echo City monsters aren’t thrilled with Charles, but who knows? Maybe they’ll see Charles’ value as Margo’s assistant. After all, he and Marcus bonded over Battlebeanz toys!

Think of Charles as a kids’ Night Stalker, led by a hard-boiled, female, juvenile Philip Marlowe: She’s on a just a first-name basis with all the monsters in her town, and operates in the shadows, confidently keeping a balance between the monster world and ours. Charles is hilarious, whether he’s complaining about exotic new take-out or proclaiming that “information wants to be free!” (the librarian in me was so happy with that panel); Margo is the picture of cool and sassy, navigating both worlds with a self-assuredness most kids could only dream of, and the monsters themselves are very human: they worry about humans discovering them; they collect toys and knickknacks, and parents worry about their kids walking off when a stranger offers them candy, too. The cartoony art will appeal to kids without scaring them (or maybe, just give ’em a little frightened giggle).

There are three stories in this first volume, to start you off on the world of Margo Maloo. There are also pages from Charles’ notebook, with sketches and information about ghosts, goblins, ogres and trolls, the monsters he encounters in these first tales. If you want more Margo and can’t wait for the next volume, you don’t have to! Margo began life as a webcomic that’s still running, updating on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can check it out at http://www.drewweing.com/, and while you’re at it, discover a few more comics on the site.

The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo is a fun addition to graphic novel collections, perfect for kids who are in Goosebumps mode and want something witty,  a little spooky, and a lot of fun.  margo_7