Archive for January, 2021

Counting creatures

By Julia Donaldson

Illustrated by Sharon King-Chai

ISBN 9781529040517

Twohootsbooks

What can I say? This is yet another beautiful book by a perfect collaboration of author, artist and publisher.

It is a beautifully packaged counting book for children. We are asked on alternate pages “Who has more babies than that?” Each spread shows different creatures answering the question, with the increasing numbers of babies they have. Beginning with a bat and just one baby, heading on through the pages to creatures that have multiple babies. Julia Donaldson brings us her skills with rhyme and language as is her forte. Simple but informative.

Stunningly illustrated by Sharon King-Chai (one of my favourite illustrators) with exquisite lift-the-flaps and cut-outs, this is not just gorgeous but also educational. This is one of those special books that will be read again and again. Love it!

I haven’t read a lot of graphic novels although I do appreciate their impact on readers and reading material these days as a growing and very popular trend. So over the Christmas break I decided it was time to read a few to see just why they hold such favour with readers. I chose a variety from younger readers through to Secondary school students at the older age group. I read five and honestly enjoyed every book. They were a real mix. Funny, mysterious, sad and serious. Will I read more graphic novels? Definitely.

In no particular order.

Speak : the graphic novel

By Laurie Halse Anderson

ISBN 9780374300289

Farrar Straus Giroux NY

This was the most powerful of the graphic novel books I read. It deals with the horrible issue of rape. Melinda attends a party where she is raped and we follow her downhill-slide as she struggles to deal with it all. Melinda tells no one about what happened and sinks deeper and deeper into a depression, her grades failing and friendships falling apart. The illustrations are dark, broody and powerful. We see her internal thoughts and her growing sense of anger as realises that she had said no. It is the claiming back of her voice that has the most impact in this top read for young adults. No means NO!

The Inkberg Enigma

By Jonathan King

ISBN 9781776572663

Gecko Press

This book is pretty special. It has a real retro feel to it like the old mysteries we used to watch on TV or read in old comics of my youth. I loved the setting with its small coastal fishing town, people who know each other and long hot summer holidays.

Miro and Sia live in Aurora, a fishing town nestled in the shadow of an ancient castle. Miro lives in his books; Sia is never without her camera. The day they meet, they uncover a secret.

A good old-fashioned mystery to solve. When a man is pulled out from the sea in front of Miro and Sia, there is some wild creature clinging to his legs so Sia takes a photo but unwittingly captures something else in the photo. Sia decides it is a clue and that they must investigate. Miro would rather read his books than follow danger, but Sia is persistent. He follows grudgingly at first but the more clues they find, the more he is keen to solve the mystery of just what is living in the sea below the harbour and what is the importance of a particular, very old book. The story suits the format with its colourful illustrations. There is a second story within its pages and these are told in black and white illustrations, adding to the overall retro feel.

Thoroughly good read. It would be nice to see Sia and Miro solve more mysteries.

The Witches

Based on the novel by Roald Dahl

Adapted and illustrated by Penelope Bagieu

ISBN 978176097830

Scholastic

Roald Dahl’s book The Witches takes on a new look in the graphic novel adapted by Penelope Bagieu. The illustrations are bright and visually appealing. The cover screams out just wanting to be picked up. Quick, easy to read and even at almost 300 pages long, younger readers will love this and I think it will be a top read and in high demand with my students.

What particularly appeals to me is that the text is in lower cases. I know it’s a thing with graphic novels to have the text in capitals but I find personally find it off-putting. Kind of like text messages use uppercase to shout out their messages. Three of the five books in this list used uppercase throughout and while you adapt to reading this way, I’d much prefer it the way it is here in The Witches.

The Invasion

Animorphs the Graphic novel

Based on the novel by K. A. Applegate & Michael Grant

Adapted by Chris Grine

Animorphs has been a hugely popular series for years and with the popularity in graphic novels, I think this format is going to be just as successful. The colourful illustrations and brief but pertinent text makes it easy to follow storylines.

A group of five friends find themselves face to face with an alien who has crashed to earth. He warns them of a bigger, deadlier threat to all mankind. Right before his death he gives them all special powers to morph into any animal by using their DNA if they can touch the animals first. Some are keen, others not so much but soon they find themselves running from danger and realise they need to use their gifts if they are to stay alive. They soon realise, the planet is under attack and they will need to do whatever they can to save lives. They need courage, teamwork and their new abilities to make this happen.

A good read, lots of action and I will be looking for more in the series as they are published.

Guts

By Raina Telgemeier

ISBN 9781743832684

Scholastic

Raina Telgemeier’s books are so popular that they are always on reserve, and sadly, they are also among the top titles of books that go “missing” and need replacing.

Based on her own life dealing with anxiety and stomach troubles, Guts is a story that needs to be told. Raina struggles with stomach pains, constant fear of vomiting, anxiety and just everyday life in general. Some days are worse than others and on these bad days she cannot attend school.

I love the ending where she realises she is not alone. Other people have similar issues or fears and it is just how people learn to deal with them that makes them strong enough to cope.

It’s realistic with a good message. I’m now going to have to read more of her work.

I think I might have my work cut out trying to read all the other books by these authors and graphic illustrators.