Book review: The Serpent’s Shadow, by Rick Riordan, adapted by Orpheus Collar

Riordan, Rick. Adapted by Orpheus Collar. The Serpent’s Shadow. (The Kane Chronicles Graphic Novels series, book 3.) Disney Hyperion, 2017. unp. $21.99. ISBN: 978-148478132-6. Gr. 5+. P9 Q8

Apohphis, the chaos snake, is once again trying to conquer the world. First he first has to deal with Carter and Sadie Kane and those who follow them. It is up to the Kanes to save the world and defeat Apophis. I have enjoyed reading this series and I love the fact that students reading them are gaining so much information on Egyptian mythology. This adaption by Orpheus Collar is packed with action to the very end. Though it is the third book in the series, I had no trouble understanding what was going on. The simple language helps reluctant readers love this series. The illustrations are colored some more darkly that others but they do carry the reader through the story.

Verdict: This action-packed mythology book will appeal to followers of the Riordan Kane Chronicle books.

June 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.

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Book review: Hermes: Tales of the Trickster, by George O’Connor

O’Connor, George. Hermes: Tales of the Trickster. (Olympians series, book 10.) First Second, 2018. 76 pgs. $18.99. ISBN: 978-1-62672-524-9. Gr. 6+. P8 Q8

This is the tenth book in George O’Connor’s Olympians series. Narrated by a wandering traveler and his dog, this one tells about Hermes the trickster, the liar and the thief. I found it ironic that Hermes father, Apollo and mother, Maia, hid the pregnancy from Hera, Zeus’ wife. This was the first trick and Hermes wasn’t even born yet. Soon after his birth, Hermes was out during the night, stealing the cattle of the sun. This began Hermes’ life of mischief and lies. The cartoon style illustrations are packed with action and help to tell the stories of Hermes’ adventures.

Verdict: If you already have other books in this series, plan to include this one in your school and public library collections. This book would be ideal for young readers who enjoy Greek mythology.

June 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: Cici’s Journal: the Adventures of a Writer-in-Training, by Joris Chamblain, illustrated by Aurélie Neyret, translated by Carol Burrell

Chamblain, Joris. Cici’s journal: the adventures of writer-in-training. Illustrated by Aurélie Neyret. Translated from French by Carol Burrell. First Second, 2017. 150 pgs. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1-62672-248-4. Gr. 5+. P8 Q9

The two stories in this book were written originally in French and translated by Burrell who does an excellent job with her translation. Ten-year-old Cici dreams of becoming a writer. She is also a budding sleuth who is out to solve mysteries. The story is narrated in the first person.  The first story: Cici is determined to solve the mystery of the elderly man who is walking in the forest carrying cans of paint. The second story: Cici just has to find out why the old woman, who carries the same book, gets on the bus and goes to library every week. Both of the stories are eventually solved but through it all Cici learns that people cannot be taken for granted. The illustrations by Neyret are glorious. They are a combination of scrap book journal and comic style panels, packed with details that made me stop and scrutinize them.

Verdict: Buy it and read it–you will not be disappointed. This book would be a great addition to any school and  public library collections.

June 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York, by Peter J. Tomasi, illustrated by Sara Duvall

Tomasi, Peter J. The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York. Illus. Sara Duvall. Abrams, 2018. $24.99. 201p. ISBN 978-1-4197-2852-5. Ages 8-13. P8Q9

Much more than an explanation of how the Brooklyn Bridge was built, this graphic narrative also deals with personal relationships, political problems, and restrictions on women in the 19th century. The story begins with the childhood of Washington Roebling, son of a German immigrant, and his inventive nature that led to creating pontoons during the Civil War when he was a soldier. The building of the longest suspension bridge in the world was marked by tragedy: the designer, John Augustus Roebling, died before construction began; his 32-year-old son and instigator of the bridge, Washington, was left to finish the massive structure. Washington became largely bedridden after he developed caisson disease (aka the “bends”) which left his wife, Emily, to manage the work site for the final eleven years of the fourteen-year construction period while her husband watched from the apartment through a powerful telescope. Yet she persisted, despite the objections of the press and politicians who believed that a woman should not be in this position. The fourteen years starting in 1869 were marked by corruption, fraud, deadly accidents, and other adversities, but Washington and Emily lived to cross the bridge.

Verdict: A bonus to the information about building is the personal aspect of a married couple’s collaboration as Tomasi brings Emily out of the shadows to become a valued part of the relationship and work. The crisp, colorful illustrations by a debut graphic novel illustrator quickly move the experiences of those who people this story behind the building of an icon. Highly recommended.

April/May 2018 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Wings of Fire: Book One – The Dragonet Prophecy, by Tui T. Sutherland, art by Mike Holmes, adapted by Barry Deutsch

Sutherland, Tui T. Wings of Fire: Book One – The Dragonet Prophecy. Art by Mike Holmes. Adapt. By Barry Deutsch. Graphix, 2018. $12.99. 214p. ISBN 978-0-545-94215-7. Ages 9-12. P9Q8

The author of the ten-volume series, Wings of Fire, is adapting his novels into graphic novels beginning with the introduction of five dragonets, hidden beneath a mountain, who are destined to fulfil a mysterious prophecy to end the war between the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia. Each one has a very different skill and personality that helps them in their struggle against evil, beginning with the wicked Queen Scarlet, determined to destroy them and everyone else.

Verdict: Blood and violence in bright colors will appeal to reader searching for excitement and adventure, and the format will find a new audience. Dragon lovers will delight in the characters and the images of this kingdom.

April/May 2018 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: The City on the Other Side, by Mairghread Scott, illustrated by Robin Robinson

Scott, Mairghread. The City on the Other Side. Illus. by Robin Robinson. First Second, 2018. $16.99. 211p. ISBN 978-1-62672-457-0. Ages 8-12. P8Q8

Isabel, a lonely daughter in an affluent family, has been kept safe inside her mother’s San Francisco mansion, but a summer in Carmel with her sculptor father, who she had never met, opens up her world. Accidentally crossing the veil into the fairy world, she becomes keeper of a magic necklace and assigned the responsibility of returning it to the owner, the missing Seelie princess. Escaping the Unseelie warriors changes her from the obsessively clean, well-behaved little girl into a young woman with her own voice and ability to make decisions. The setting after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake is referenced but has little focus. The many characters, both human and fairy, comprise the majority of the story as Button the mushroom and Benjie the Filipino orphan help her on her odyssey.

Verdict: The cause of the conflict between the two sides, Seelie and Unseelie, is never fleshed out, and the large number of multi-faceted characters can become confusing. Yet the graphic novel moves at a rapid pace, and book benefits from the detailed colorful panels, that move from dark backgrounds to vivid colors. It’s also refreshing that the book doesn’t need a sequel.

April/May 2018 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide, by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña

Quintero, Isabel. Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide. Illus. by Zeke Peña. J. Paul Getty Museum, 2018. $19.95. 95p. ISBN 978-1-947440-00-5. Ages 13+. P7Q8

In this graphic biography, black and white drawings with digitally-added grays are combined with the author’s brief poetic narratives to each chronological section and over two-dozen of Iturbide’s unstaged feminist—and sometimes disturbing—photographs. As a child, Iturbide tried to follow the traditional lifestyle of her conservative Catholic family in Mexico, but her drive to be a writer and the loss of her daughter led her to photography. She travelled the world, engaging with diverse cultures as the book follows her for over 50 years. A common theme pervading the book comes from the use of birds, frequently appearing in backgrounds apart from the graphic panels.

Verdict: This startling look at indigenous communities through the eyes of an artist who experiences them can engender discussions and shifts in critical perspectives.

April/May 2018 review by Nel Ward.