graphic novel

Far Out Fables: The Ugly Dino Hatchling by Stephanie Peters

The Ugly Dino Hatchling book cover: a illustration of a purple T-Rex hatching out of an egg as four ducks look on"But just when she thought the egg was safe...It fell into a swirling portal to another demension in time!"

When a T-Rex egg lands in a duck's nest, the animals all agree that 'Rex' isn't much like any of the animals on the farm; but, what will happen when something dangerous comes?

Told in a comic format with brightly colored panels and easy to follow dialogue; it includes a synopsis of the original story of The Ugly Duckling, some visual questions to guide discussion and a glossary.  A quick read and a good choice for kids looking for fractured fairytales, stories about dinosaurs or want to try out a new format.

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Jennifer Palermo, Kids World

The Time Museum by Matthew Loux

Time Museum book cover: illustrated image of a girl with reddish brown hair looking at a glowing band on her wrist. In the background are figures appearing to be runningDelia Bean is just your average valedictorian- a nerd through and through and not popular in school at all. However, summer begins to look promising when her family visits her Uncle Lyndon’s home. There Delia discovers The Time Museum, a museum of Earth’s history (past and future), and wouldn’t you know it, her Uncle is the curator. Delia quickly joins the competition to win the coveted internship position. The competition pits Delia against kids from various eras in history, and the intensive study required is broken up by harrowing trials that send the competitors through time. But, soon Delia makes another important discovery, it is not just T-Rexes one was to watch out for, because not all time travelers are the good guys.

This graphic novel opens this new series with a bang, and will sure to be a hit with upper elementary school readers. Fans of the Amulet or Dreamjumpers series will find enough action and adventure to satisfy, and fans of Roller Girl and Smile will appreciate Delia’s struggle to build friendships.

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Celeste, Kids World

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Real Friends book cover; illustrated 7 girls of varying ethnicty in the front a red headed girl with glasses"When I was little, I didn't worry about friends."

Before you start school, having friends isn't a problem. But if you're like Shannon, friends aren't always easy to come by once you start your academic career. Never quite fitting in yet never exactly standing out, Shannon's kindergarten-through-fifth-grade experience with friends and frenemies is one many school-aged children will relate to. Whether trouble comes from shyness, anxiety, bullying, or just plain being different, Real Friends proves that it's not about finding friends, but finding out who your real friends are.

This graphic novel will win the hearts of readers in upper-elementary and middle school who enjoy the works of Raina Telgemeier (Smile), Cece Bell (El Deafo), and Victoria Jamieson (Roller Girl).

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Brittany, Kids World

Snow White by Matt Phelan

Snow White book cover: a red cover with a black silhouette of an apple"An apple for a pretty thing?"

Most readers are familiar with the story of Snow White, so there will be no real surprises in plot here. However, knowing what is coming just adds to the artful suspense in this graphic novel. Phelan frames his retelling of Snow White in New York City during the late 1920s/early 1930s. Here, Snow White is the daughter of the "King of Wall Street," and the evil stepmother a "Broadway Queen."

Fans of Phelan's Storm in the Barn will find this a tad more sinster in tone.  Deliciously dark, the art leaves much of the acts of violence to the imagination, depicting the omnious results, and is all the more powerful for it.  The fantastical fairy tale is enriched by its historical dressings. The magic mirror has become a stock printer, which is not only a great introduction with the technology of the time, but an ingenious metaphor. Tuberculosis, the stock market crash, the display windows all feature prominently in the plot line. The art stays true to the time period as well, depicting appriopriate room furnishings and clothing.

True to Phelan's style, there is not a lot of text bogging up the pages of this graphic novel, and many panels rely solely on the art to move the story along. A sly "quick" read that invites multiple re-readings to pore over subtlies in the evocative art. This graphic novel is recommended for grades 4 and up.

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Celeste, Kids World

Child Soldier by Jessica Dee Humphreys and Michel Chikwanie

Child Soldier book cover: Image of trees with the silhouettes of children walking among them carrying various backpacks and cargo"The story you are about to read is true. It is my story, and it is just one of thousands like it."

This autobiographic graphic novel tells a haunting tale, albeit one that has a happier ending than most of its kind. The majority of the story takes place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Michel was kidnapped from the schoolyard at age 5, and "trained" to be a child soldier. The story does not gloss over what child soldiers are forced to do and the psychological trauma the children are exposed to during training. Michel is able to escape, and the experience inspires Michel's father into becoming an activist. "This is what defines you: The legacy that you leave, not just for your family but for the whole world." Michel and his family become refugees, though only Michel, his mother and two sisters eventually settle in safety of Canada.

For its sobering but edifying content, this book is recommended to third grade readers all the way to adult. The book makes clear that, "these events did not occur out of the blue and won't suddenly happen to you." However, mid-elementary readers might benefit from an adult reading buddy to answer any questions that might arise. For older readers, this book provides great insight to the political unrest in Africa and the effect it has on children and families. This book might serve as an introduction to not only child soldiers but also the international refugee plight.

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Celeste, Kids World

Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers

written and drawn by henrietta book cover: a child is drawing people as a cat looks on“A box of colored pencils is as close as you can get to owning a piece of the rainbow.”

Meet Henrietta, a girl with a boundless imagination and, today, a new deluxe set of colored pencils. Immediately, of course, she begins to draw and write her own story while narrating her creative thought process to her cat, Fellini. Her adventure “book” is delightfully amateur and her internal dialogue wonderfully natural and childlike.

I hope that young readers in grades 1-3 will find this and other clever stories in our Graphic Novel section, where, I worry, they get lost among the superheroes and other pop culture stuff. Young creative types will relate to Henrietta’s simple delight in making it up as she goes along, being surprised by her own ideas and, of course, writing herself into the action.

Parents and teachers: Please read “How to Read Comics with Kids” in the back of the book and take a look at the wealth of engaging resources at toon-books.com (including read-along books that can be “read” or subtitled in many languages).

Mary Jo, Kids World

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The Glorkian Warrior Eats Adventure Pie By James Kochalka

Glorkian Warrior book cover: alien riding what looks like a giant worm-fish“Oh my!” “Oh PIE!”

On a routine mission to protect pie from a space snake, things go horribly wrong. Now the Glorkian Warrior and their Super (Talking) Backpack are on a silly adventure to fix everything, the only problem is Glorkian Warrior’s rival Buster Glark seems to keep getting in the way. Joined by Gonk and the Baby Alien, is it even remotely possible for this team of misfits to get things under control when they’re so full of random ideas and nonsense?

This graphic novel is completely full of silliness and fun. With an entertaining color palette and complimentary art style, overall it’s a casual but delightful read. The jokes are pretty off the wall, but that’s what makes it a refreshing take from most other comic series. The Glorkian Warrior series is for all ages, but grades 1-4 will find it especially entertaining.

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Naomi, Kids World

HiLo by Judd Winick

Hilo the boy who crashed to earth book cover: a blond boy wearing red shirt and blue jeans is smiling with his hands out and light glowing from them; a boy in green hoody is behind him as well as a girl in a pink tank"I'm a Robot! That is Outstanding!"
     -"Okay. Yeah. Maybe. But You're a really really broken robot."
"True, true, but it doesn't take away from how unbelievably cool it is that I'm an actual robot."

HiLo fell from the sky in this hilarious graphic novel. He has no idea who he is or were he comes from, but thankfully he landed near D.J., a young boy in need of a friend. HiLo absorbs D.J.'s vocabulary, reads the dictionary and sixteen encyclopedias (all in twenty minutes), and his memory slowly comes back in bits and peices- usually while an evil robots shoots lasers at them. D.J.'s old friend Gina recently moved back into town and it isn't long before she is also chasing after HiLo as he races from one battle to another. This fast paced adventure is filled with humor- "Holy Mackerel-- I forgot about the lasers! How outstanding are my hand lasers?!" - and perfect for grades 3-6. Be forwarned- in true comic book style, the story will be continued in a later sequel.

Celeste, Kids World

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Sleepless Knight by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost

Sleepless Knight book cover: cartoon figure of a knight and horse cuddling together afraid in the forest at night“Who do you think you are, throwing sticks in the middle of the night, waking up cute little animals?!

James Sturm continues to combine wacky storytelling with “how to” cartoon instruction in this cute little graphic novel.  Is it the Knight’s best camping trip ever or, actually, the worst? Well, it depends which page you’re on.  Follow the Knight and his horse Edward on their madcap adventure involving marshmallows, a cave and a lost teddy bear.

Readers ages 6 – 12 will enjoy this silly and short graphic novel at whatever reading and humor level they are at.  Extra fun: Learn to draw the four main characters with some basic drawing instructions included on the endpapers.

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Mary Jo, Kids World

Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Carl Bowen & Daniel Ferran

The stange case of dr jekyll and mr hyde book cover. A man's profile cut in half. One side shows a man in Victorian suit the other side shows a green muscular monster with a hat on."It happened some months ago, late at night in the Soho neighborhood."

Meet kindly Dr. Jekyll and horrific Mr. Hyde, two men who are so different...or are they? The answer is so bizarre, that readers need to see it to believe it.

Retold in a graphic novel format with lush Victorian illustrations, this edition is perfect for readers from grade 4th and up, as well as those with a taste for classic literature.

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Jennifer, Kid's World

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