Category: book review

Reviews: Graphic Novels for Kids

Snail Finds a Home by Mary Peterson. Aladdin Pix, 2020. 9781534431850. 64pp. Ladybug tries to convince strawberry-loving Snail to leave his bucket of strawberries. After he turns green and vomits he agrees, and she becomes his real estate agent, taking him to places he could live while trying to keep him from being eaten by a chicken. Yeah, it’s weird. The drawings are fun, it flows really well, and little kids are going to love it. (I can’t wait for a librarian somewhere to email me about a group of stoned older readers pulling it off a library shelf and reading it to each other.) Wolf in Underpants Freezes His Buns Off by Wilfrid Lupano, Maya Itoïz, and Paul Cauuet. Translation by Nathan Sacks. Graphic Universe, 2020. 9781541528192. 40pp. It’s winter in the woods, which is great if you’re prepared. But the Wolf isn’t happy because maybe he isn’t ready — he keeps saying, “They’re freezing!” — and it’s freaking […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Snapdragon by Kat Leyh

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh. First Second, 2020. 9781250171115. 224pp plus sketches, original covers, and process pages in the back. When Snap goes looking for her dog, Good Boy, she finds him at Jacks’ place. She’s supposed to be the town witch and she scares Snap a bit, but Snap knows there’s no such thing as witches, and anyway the old woman helped Good Boy when he was hurt. So after she finds some possums who need help, Snap takes them to Jacks, who makes a deal with her: she’ll show Snap how to care for the possums if Snap works for her (collecting roadkill, but Snap doesn’t know that for a few pages). She’s soon helping Jacks articulate dead animal skeletons, and also hanging out with her new friend Louis, who loves the same movies she does. Everyone sees them all as weird. There are stories within the story, one in particular that connects Snap and Jacks (who has a […]

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Graphic Novel Review: These Savage Shores by Ram V, illustrated by Sumit Kumar.

These Savage Shores by Ram V, illustrated by Sumit Kumar, colored by Vittorio Astone, lettered by Aditya Bidikar. Vault, 2019. 9781939424402. Contains issues #1 – #5. Alain Pierrefont, an injured vampire on the run, arrives in Calicut, on the Malabar Coast, in 1766. Young Prince Vikram of the Zamorin hosts Alain, and the East India Company wants him to help exert influence over the young ruler to open a land trade route. Alain is warned by the Prince that “Savage things roam the nights in these parts.” He doesn’t take that warning at all seriously. He should have. Other creatures roam the land, or maybe protect it. Soon the hunter on Alain’s trail is there, too, as are some of the other vampires who knew him in Europe. There’s a bit of romance, an ancient immortal, and quite a bit of violence. Kumar’s art and Astone’s colors work together to create the perfect atmosphere for Ram V’s story. This book […]

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Graphic Novel Review: dancing at the pity party: a dead mom graphic novel by Tyler Feder

dancing at the pity party: a dead mom graphic novel by Tyler Feder. Dial, 2020. 9780525553021. 202pp, including a bunch of family photographs at the end. Tyler’s mother Rhonda was diagnosed with cancer when Tyler was a college freshman, and died not too long afterwards following intensive chemotherapy. Tyler convinced me (as she will convince you) that her mom was the coolest. Dealing with her death has been tough on Tyler, her dad, her sisters, and everyone who knew her. Reading about her mom’s final moment (and the days of waiting for it) brought back similar experiences for me — I had to put this book down a few times and take some deep breaths. Her lists of dos and don’ts for dealing with a grieving person are spot on. And I learned a lot about shivas, which I’d heard of but never really understood. The photos at end are devastating and wonderful — don’t jump ahead unless you absolutely […]

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Guest Book Review: Women of Substance

Women of Substance by Revilo. Hallmark Books, 2005. No ISBN. 80pp. This is a collection of silly cartoons by Oliver Christianson, better known as Revilo, a well-known cartoonist who writes and draws for Hallmark. His books and cards have made me giggle, chuckle, and snort loudly. He simply doesn’t give a crap. Women of Substance depicts snarky, self-deprecating women who know how to laugh at themselves and others. Between all my own issues and the opportunities my library’s patrons give me, Revilo is my hero — he’s actually drawn and exposed my innermost thoughts! Below are a few that made me laugh the hardest. Guest review by NowBrusMom.

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Easy Reader Reviews

Kiwi Cannot Reach (Ready to Read Level One) by Jason Tharp. Simon Spotlight, 2019. 9781534425125. Kiwi can’t reach a rope above its head, so it enlists the help of the reader to shake the book and push buttons and do other stuff to help it. The best thing about this early reader is that it’s a very short and simple (and wonderfully drawn) comic book in disguise. (In fact most of the books in this review are.)   Barry’s Best Buddy (Easy-To-Read Comics Level One) by Renée French. TOON Books, 2012. 9781935179214. This is about a small bird named Barry. His friend Polarhog wakes him up because he has a surprise. He buys Barry a hat (but Barry doesn’t like hats). He buys Barry an ice cream (Barry doesn’t like ice cream, either). (The ants at the bottom of the pages offer a clue to Polarhog’s final surprise, which Barry does like.) My family loved French’s Tinka, about a tiny […]

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Mostly Picture Book Reviews

Duckworth, the Difficult Child by Michael Sussman, illustrated by Júlia Sarda. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. 9781534405127. When a giant snake comes out of his closet, Duckworth’s parents, who are trying to deal with him, tell him he’s too old to be imagining things like that. After he takes a nap, the snake eats him. His parents continue to ignore it.     How To Be A T. Rex by Ryan North, illustrated by Mike Lowery. Dial, 2018. 9780399186240. When Sal grows up he wants to be a T. Rex. His brother says that’s impossible. His brother is wrong. It’s fun being a dinosaur, but there are downsides, too. (This is another great, short comic disguised as a picture book.)       Everything Awesome about Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts by Mike Lowery. Orchard Books, 2019. 9781338566291. 128pp (not a picture book!) I’m obviously a huge fan of Lowery’s picture books, and of pretty much everything he draws. […]

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Picture Book Reviews

In A Jar by Deborah Marcero. GP Putnam’s Sons, 2020. 9780525514596. Llewellyn is a rabbit who collects things in jars: rocks, feathers, leaves. One day he collects the light of a sunset and gives it to his friend Evelyn. Then they collect things together, at least until her family moves away.       my heart by corinna luyken. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2019. 9780735227934. A black and white and yellow book that contains a poem about happiness, sadness, and our ability to open our hearts. There’s a little darkness in this book, but the yellow lets the joy burst through so much it’s amazing.       Imagine! by Raúl Colón. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2018. 9781481462730. A young man visits the Museum of Modern Art. Characters and creatures from paintings step out of their frames, and they dance together down the street and around New York City. Colón’s colorful drawings are as amazing as […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist by David Almond, illustrated by David McKean

Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist by David Almond, illustrated by David McKean. Candlewick, 2019. 9781536201604. 80pp. While Joe Quinn, Geordie, and Davie watch two girls play tennis, Joe tells them about the poltergeist at his house. There’s been stuff flying all over and smashing his place up. They don’t quite believe him as Joe has told lies before, but as his mom makes them chips things start flying around the kitchen. Geordie thinks it’s nonsense. But Davie, he seems to believe a bit, which has something to do with the fact the he misses his dead sister. Davie keeps going back to Joe’s, and talking to a priest (who is questioning his own beliefs). Based on a previously published story by Almond, McKean’s drawings & collages are simply fantastic. I can’t imagine many kids or teens being wowed by this, but adult comics fan will love it, especially if they’re nostalgic for the days when they could eat a sandwich full of […]

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Addams’ Apple: The New York Cartoons of Charles Addams

Addams’ Apple: The New York Cartoons of Charles Addams. Pomegranate, 2020. 9780764999369. 160pp including an index, a preface, and a forward. This is a really nice, geographically-themed collection of Addams’ single panel comics. Most are black and white, but there are a few color pieces, too. There aren’t many Addams Family strips — it’s a chance to explore the range of his style, and to see just how great a cartoonist he was. The man has a lot of fun with perspective, his ink washes are amazing, and his sense of humor surprised me in a few instances. This would make a great gift, or be an amazing discovery on a library shelf.  

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