Book review: Draw a Comic!, by J.P. Coovert

Coovert, J.P. Draw a Comic! (Maker Comic series.) First Second, 2019. $12.99. ISBN 9781250152121. 123 pages. Ages 8-13. P7 Q8

If you are interested in making your very own comic book, this is the book for you! Written in a graphic novel style, Maggie is interviewing YOU to work as an assistant in her comic library and in return you will learn how to make comics. As she is interviewing you, Dr. Carl Stevens shows up and declares the bank has signed the property over to him and that he is going to tear down the library to make a parking lot unless she can come up with $500,000 by next week. Will Maggie be able to save the library? The colorful illustrations, detailed steps on how to make a comic, and engaging story make this graphic novel one that is both useful and fun. The steps are easy to follow and readers will learn a lot about comic book terms along with how to create one. Not only does this graphic novel teach one how to make a comic, it also explains which supplies are the best and how one can publish their own comics.

Verdict: I work at an elementary school where students are starting to write books and comics. I have had several students show me their rough drafts. This book will guide them towards writing a comic that they can publish. The steps are easy and specific along with illustrations that match the details. I highly recommend this book.

November 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: It’s Me, by Jim Benton

Benton, Jim. It’s Me. (Catwad series, book 1). Graphix, 2019. $8.99. ISBN 9781338326024. 125 Pages. Ages 8-12. P8 Q7

Blumrp, an enthusiastic cat, annoys a cranky Catwad in this collection of short comic stories. Blumrp is overly energetic and sees the positive in everything. Catwad is like Grumpy Cat. When Blumrp asks Catwad if he likes him better than pizza, if it was covered in poison and toenails? Catwad replies that he guesses he would like him more. Blumrp says “OMG you are my best friend too!” Fast paced, brightly colored cartoons on glossy paper will keep the reader engaged. Includes a special preview of Catwad #2, which came out in September. Book three is scheduled to be come out in April 2020.

Verdict: Humorous, funny, where the cats feed off each other in their dialogue. The humor is zany and slapstick. I found myself laughing out loud while I read the comics. The perfect choice for reluctant readers. While one may think of comics being for young readers, this comic book is for a bit older reader due to its sarcastic humor. If you want to laugh, I recommend this comic.

November 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Kristy’s Big Day, by Gale Galligan, based on the novel by Ann M. Martin

Galligan, Gale. Kristy’s Big Day. (The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels, #6). Based on the novel by Ann M. Martin. Graphix/Scholastic, 2018. $10.99. ISBN 9781338067613. 153 Pages. Ages 8-12. P7 Q8

Kristy’s life is about to change. Her mother is marrying Watson and due to the sale of their house, they only have two and a half weeks to plan a wedding. Kristy is excited because she gets to be a bridesmaid, but she has questions about what it means to be a step kid. It will require moving across town and blending into a family with other siblings. Her new siblings assure her that it may be a bit scary, but together they will work it out. With fourteen children coming to town for the wedding, the baby-sitter club is busy for a week providing care and activities for the children. This graphic novel includes 13 chapters. The illustrations show intricate details and the characters’ eyes are large and expressive. There is a journal entry in some of the chapters from members of the Baby-Sitters Club, which adds a bit of a personal touch to the graphic novel. This book is the 6th in the series, but can stand alone.

Verdict: Children who are entering into a blended family will be able to relate to Kristy and her new family. The adventures the Baby-Sitters Club will entertain readers. Being the sixth in the series, readers will enjoy the familiar characters as they have another adventure.

January 2019 review by Tami Harris.


Book review: Click, by Kayla Miller

Miller, Kayla. Click. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. $24.99. ISBN 9781328707352. 191 pages. Ages 10-12. P7 Q7

Olive is in the fifth grade and she gets along with all of her friends, until her teacher announces they are having a variety show. All her friends have talents they want to perform with their friends. Olive doesn’t know what her talent is and it doesn’t look like her friends want to include her in their groups. Olive doesn’t know where she fits in, or “clicks” with her friends. As Olive explores different ideas, she finally finds a solution that helps her be with her friends. Her friends are a variety of races. This is Miller’s debut graphic novel on where one fits in middle school. The text type is set in Kayla Miller’s handwriting, which adds a personal touch. The illustrations are in ink and digital color.

Verdict: Elementary school children will be able to relate to Olive. They will be empowered to follow their hearts and to think outside the box for solutions. They will realize there is more than one way to fit in with peers. I recommend this book for elementary school and public libraries.

January 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Chasma Knights, by Kate Reed Petty, illustrated by Boya Sun

Petty, Kate Reed. Chasma Knights. Illus by Boya Sun. First Second, 2018. $17.99. 112p. ISBN 978-1-62672-604-8. Ages 5-8. P7Q6

Bullying is the focus in this story of tormented pink Beryl, a Neon Knight, who cannot “catalyze” toys like the other knights of Chasma such as Sulfurs and Oxygens who blend their own powers with those of cute little creatures. Unbeknownst to the bullies, however, Beryl takes broken toys that the others have thrown away and makes them into different objects. Yellow Coro, an Oxygen knight, learns of Beryl’s abilities but disobeys orders not to catalyze them. The ensuing disaster briefly breaks up the friendship, but they learn to appreciate each other and spin off on each others’ skills.

Verdict: Brightly colored, graphic novel about jealousy and bullying evolves into cute and far too sweet. The illustrations also depict the living broken companions as alive, but no one does anything about the problem. They are just discarded. The knights are elements, but no science information ensues, and the plot lacks any motivating factors.

January 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: The Secret of the Wind, by Jim Pascoe, illustrated by Heidi Arnhold

Pascoe, Jim. The Secret of the Wind. Illus. by Heidi Arnhold. (Cottons trilogy, book 1). First Second, 2018. $19.99. 262p. ISBN 978-1-250-15744-7. Ages 12-15. P7Q9

With talents that even she does not understand, Bridgebelle wants to use the cha, a fuel from carrots that provides energy for the world, into magical pieces of art, but both the rabbits and the controlling foxes want to stop her. Endnotes describe Lavender—its isolated land, history, inhabitants, industry, religion, culture, and society—with the focus on the Vale of Industry. The first in a series of three graphic novels sets the scene for a dictatorial society that imprisons the workers and rejects all artistic efforts.

Verdict: Although the characters are sometimes so similar that differentiating among them can be difficult, the author and illustrator have created an amazing world demonstrating the destruction of a focus only on work and compiling wealth and the mythology surrounding them. Darkly illustrated panels evoking a strong sense of evil show the brutality of the animals who live in misery. This is a valuable addition to graphic novels, but the imprisoned life of the “cottons” can be extremely painful reading.

January 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: The Hidden Witch, by Molly Knox Ostertag

Ostertag, Molly Knox. The Hidden Witch. Scholastic, 2018. $12.99. 202p. ISBN 978-1-338-25375-7. Ages 10-14. P8Q8

In the sequel to The Witch Boy, Aster joins girls in classes for witchery after his struggle to gain permission for training allocated only to females, but he needs to catch up with the lessons he has missed. His grandmother offers to tutor him but only if he helps cure his great-uncle, Mikasi, who almost destroyed the family after he was taken over by dark magic. Aster’s friend, a distrustful foster child suffering from bullying, is also beset with the dark magic by a new student at school, Ariel, who doesn’t understand that her new protector is actually a harmful shadow form. To save his friends, Aster needs to face the Mikasi’s black magic. Forced to face their fears, characters in this graphic novel make their own decisions—Aster breaks gender stereotypes, his cousin stops shapeshifting in defiance of the family pattern, and Ariel develops faith in others.

Verdict: This second novel is even stronger than the first, continuing with excitement while confronting problems of bullying and personal growth in a warm family setting depicted by rich, bright colors.

January 2019 review by Nel Ward.