Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kid Konnection: Graphic Novels

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. Today, I'm going to share with you some fantastic graphic novels that I have recently had the pleasure of reading!

Summary: Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang are best friends with one goal: to crack the code of popularity. Lydia’s the bold one: aspiring theater star, stick-fighting enthusiast, human guinea pig. Julie’s the shy one: observer and artist, accidental field hockey star, faithful recorder. In this notebook they write down their observations and carry out experiments to try to determine what makes the popular girls tick. But somehow, when Lydia and Julie try to imitate the popular girls, their efforts don’t translate into instant popularity. Lydia ends up with a bald spot, their parents won’t stop yelling, and Julie finds herself the number-one crush of Roland Asbjørnsen. Worse, they seem to be drifting farther and farther from their goal—and each other.

Amy Ignatow’s hilarious debut novel introduces the intrepid fifth-graders Julie and Lydia, whose quest to understand popularity may not succeed in the ways they want, but will succeed in keeping readers in stitches. -- Amulet

THE POPULARITY PAPERS: RESEARCH FOR THE SOCIAL IMPROVEMENT AND GENERAL BETTERMENT OF LYDIA GOLDBLATT & JULIE GRAHAM-CHANG by Amy Ignatow has to be one of the cutest books I've ever seen! Both Booking Daughter and I devoured it in just a day. I'm telling you, if you know a late elementary or early middle-grade girl, then you have to get her this book -- it really is that good!

The basic premise behind THE POPULARITY PAPERS is that two fifth grade girls, Lydia and Julie, want to figure out what makes some girls popular. So they decide to research the question and document their findings in a notebook. And that's how THE POPULARITY PAPERS came into being. This book is just a hilarious account of Lydia and Julie's quest to become popular.

I included it in this week's Kid Konnection - Graphic Novels edition because I guess THE POPULARITY PAPERS would qualify as a graphic novel. Well, sort of... THE POPULARITY PAPERS is set up like a notebook with entries, drawings, and cartoons. I can't get over how much this book looks like an actual journal. It has what looks like blue ballpoint pen cursive entries along with printed ones that look like they are made with a thin black marker. In addition, the illustrations look like they were actually drawn with colored pencils. I was extremely impressed with how authentic these pages looked.

I absolutely loved this book and I swear I could read it again...already. It was filled with lots of humor and I loved Lydia and Julie's insight into life. As a mother, I found it very interesting that towards the end of the novel, the girls have a falling out. Booking Daughter was quite upset that they were fighting; however, I thought it was extremely realistic. (I mean...girls that age can be quite caddy.) I also liked how they resolved their issues and eventually made up. I have to say that the messages at the end of this book were perfect. Booking Daughter even mentioned a few of the lessons that Lydia and Julie learned!

I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this book at ALA last weekend. I even had the opportunity to talk to the author and get the book personalized to Booking Daughter. Needless to say, this is one of her treasures!

Summary: Forget everything you thought you knew about America's early days-history packs a punch in this full-color, two-fisted, edge-of-your-seat adventure!

Graphic novels are a revolution in literature, and
The Sons of Liberty is a graphic novel like no other. Visual and visceral, fusing historical fiction and superhero action, this is a tale with broad appeal-for younger readers who enjoy an exciting war story, for teenagers asking hard questions about American history, for adult fans of comic books, for anyone seeking stories of African American interest, and for reluctant readers young and old.

In Colonial America, Graham and Brody are slaves on the run-until they gain extraordinary powers. At first they keep a low profile. But their mentor has another idea-one that involves the African martial art dambe . . . and masks.

With its vile villains, electrifying action, and riveting suspense,
The Sons of Liberty casts new light on the faces and events of pre-Revolution America, including Ben Franklin and the French and Indian War. American history has rarely been this compelling-and it's never looked this good. -- Random House

Another interesting graphic novel that I recently had the opportunity to read is THE SONS OF LIBERTY #1 written by Alexander Lagos and Joseph Lagos and illustrated by Steve Walker and Oren Kramek. I was extremely impressed with this novel; however, I'm not sure I was the ideal audience for this book. That's not to say that I didn't appreciate the illustrations or the creativity of the story. I just don't think I totally "got" the book -- it's probably wasn't written with the average 40 year old mom in mind!

Having said that, I think boys, teens and even grown men will absolutely love this book; and it definitely has a huge potential to appeal to many people. The book offers an extremely unique look at pre-Revolution America. It discusses many important characters and events in our country's history including Ben Franklin as well as the French and Indian War and the slave trade. It also includes lots of fight scenes, villains, suspense and even some fantasy. It really is a very cool book.

What I really appreciated about THE SONS OF LIBERTY is that this book can be used as a tool to educate children about this time period. I would hope that after reading this graphic novel, kids would want to further explore some of the topics that took place in this story. I was extremely excited to see that there is already an educator's guide that parents and teachers can use.

In addition, there is a fantastic website devoted to the book. You can learn more about the creators of this series as well as read a sneak preview of the book. There are also pages that feature the characters in the story and a quiz about fact vs. fiction is coming soon.

I realize that I'm not a great judge of graphic novels, but I definitely think this is one that many will enjoy!

Summary: Ten-year-old Aldo Zelnick had decided it’s OK to be a little artsy-fartsy. So when his grandma Goosy gives Aldo a second sketchbook, he fills it with more hand-drawn comics, fun B words, and accounts of his everyday adventures.

In Bogus, Aldo and his best friend, Jack, find a ring in the storm grate on their street. Convinced it's a fake, Aldo goofs around with the ring and loses it—only to find out it was a real diamond with a $1,000 reward. Will Aldo, Jack, and Bee find the ring again and reap the reward...or will their archenemy, Tommy Geller? -- Bailiwick Press

A few months ago, I featured a terrific graphic novel for middle-schoolers called ARTSY-FARTSY by Karla Oceanak and illustrated by Kendra Spanjer. I enjoyed this book so much and I was very excited to learn that it was the first in a series. Recently, I had the opportunity to read the second book called BOGUS, and it was just as entertaining as the first one!

In BOGUS, Aldo Zelnick is back with another one of his sketchbooks. This time, he and his friend Jack find a diamond ring that they think is "bogus." When they find that there is a $1000 reward for the ring, they realize that the ring is a real diamond; however, they also realize that Aldo misplaced the ring. Aldo and his friends decide that they have to find the ring...especially before their arch-enemy Tommy does!

As was the case in the first book, BOGUS is filled with so much humor as well as some terrific illustrations. The reader once again has the opportunity to see what a great (and funny) character Aldo is. There is also a bit of a mystery to solve as well as some important lessons. I especially liked that BOGUS featured many "B" words. In fact, there was even a "B Gallery" in the back of the book which gave definitions for all of the less familiar "B" words that appeared in the book.

I am excited to say that there in another Aldo book in the works called CAHOOTS. If it's anything like the first two books, then it's guaranteed to be not only funny but also very educational. What a terrific mix for kids and their parents!

Thanks to the publisher for providing copies of these books.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Beth F said...

Thanks for the graphic novel round-up. One of the best parts of Kid Konnection for me is having a ready source of gift ideas for the little ones in our life.

bermudaonion said...

They all sound good, especially The Popularity Papers. I'm glad graphic novels have become more mainstream because they're a great way to get reluctant readers to read.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Both of my kids love graphic novels. They are quick and easy to read, and a feast for the eyes. I'm going to show this post to them and see if there are any here they want to check out. We are going to make a big library trip before we head off to Indiana next Wed!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

The Popularity Papers looks like a lot of fun. I'm with Kathy on being glad GNs are becoming more mainstream, because that will make them easier to find!

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

Every year the number of kids who actually read books is dwindling. In my college classroom, the very small number of students who have actually read an entire novel in their lives is astounding. I'm so glad to have graphic this highly tech world we live in, kids these days need more reading material with as much high interest material and visuals as we can possibly give them. My nephew will love the Sons of Liberty book. Thanks for the roundup!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

The Popularity Papers sound like a lot of fun. I love books that look that realistic. I know I used to read some of those when I was younger...


Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

GNs are a great way to teach history, aren't they!?

and that new Aldo Zelnick ... I agree, this is such a fun series; he's a great character!