Posts Tagged ‘Graphic novels’

White Bird

By R. J. Palacio

ISBN 9780241397244

Penguin Books

Penguin Random House

I read the book Wonder a number of years ago and loved it. I have it as year six book club title and the children love it too. So it was a no brainer to buy a copy of White Bird which shares with us the backstory of Julian’s grandmother. For those who read Wonder, you will remember that Julian was a bully and very unkind. While there is no excuse for such horrible behaviour, we can see in Whitebird that Julian later regretted his actions. For homework Julian has to write an essay about someone he knows and he chooses his grandmother. At first she is reluctant to share her story but she goes ahead and we are taken back to the 1940’s and a world at war.

Wow! Where to start? I loved this book so much. I cried so much I couldn’t see the words on the page.

Julian’s grandmother Sara Blum, was a young Jewish girl living in occupied France, who believed her life was good and a bit like a fairy tale. Her family had nice things, food, a home, and spent time together as a family in the fields of bluebells. One day the Nazis came to school wanting to collect all the Jewish children. They ran through a forest trying to escape but Sara hid in a room upstairs in the school where a crippled classmate found her and led her to safety. Together, this boy Julien, and his family helped hide Sara in a barn and kept her safe.

Throughout the story we see bullying, kindness, trust, and mistrust, courage, hope, the futility of war and the impact it had long after the war was over. We meet strong, kindhearted people risking their lives, as well as nasty ones, ready to shoot on sight. Throughout the years in hiding, it is the friendship between Sara and Julien that is most moving of all.

This is powerful and at times uncomfortable to read but it’s a must read.
Written and illustrated as a graphic novel by R. J. Palcio you can see that the author knows exactly how her characters respond to situations, she knows their stories, their thoughts and fears and captures them in her illustrations so well, that we also know and can relate to them. We can feel Sara’s sadness and we can feel Julien’s frustration at his disability, especially as he remembers how fast he could run before polio ruined everything.

This is ideal from middle grade right through to secondary. There is so much to consider, so much to unpack and just so much more than a story about a young girl hiding and trying to survive in Occupied France. It is a story of hope.

Julian’s grandmother has a message for us all “Never again”.

 

 

 

You can read White Bird as a stand alone but if you want a little more out of it then read Wonder if you haven’t already.

Dogman: Brawl of the wild

By Dav Pilkey

ISBN 9781338236576

Scholastic

Dogman is back again for more hilarious adventures. These graphic novel books are always in hot demand. I could buy twenty copies and still have children waiting to read them. They are brightly coloured graphic novels with quirky cartoonish illustrations and heaps of humour. Lots of tongue-in-cheek humour that parents will love too. Will he get a fair go in his latest adventure?

Yes, the same author and illustrator that brought you Captain Underpants brings you funny stories about Dogman, half dog, half human.

Baby Monkey, Private Eye

By David Serlin and Brian Selznick

Illustrated by Brian Selznick

ISBN 9781338180619

Scholastic

I love Brian Selznick’s books and have a number of them in my own collection. His illustrations are stunning and his books win so many awards. This time he is collaborating with debut author David Serlin.  Baby Monkey, Private Eye offers humour wonderful illustrations; which you can peek at if you click on the Scholastic link above, and text suitable for younger readers.

Mystery, part graphic novel, humour, and an adorable character all coming soon.

Not out until February but this will definitely be on my list to purchase for my school library. The book trailer is so cute too. How can your resist such a cute creature? Looks like this could be a winner.

Who is Baby Monkey?

He is a baby.
He is a monkey.
He has a job.
He is Baby Monkey, Private Eye!
Lost jewels?
Missing pizza?
Stolen spaceship?
Baby Monkey can help…

if he can put on his pants!

Baby Monkey’s adventures come to life in an exciting blend of picture book, beginning reader, and graphic novel.

 

Brobot

By James Foley

ISBN 9781925163919

Fremantle Press

 

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“Sally is the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve, and she just knows she can build a better brother than the messy, smelly version she has. Sally’s invention – Brobot – is fantastic, that is until the remote gets broken and Brobot careens out of control. Sally realises that maybe there’s more to a brother than just his inconveniences”

 

What a brilliant cover. The blue is beautiful and bright and just calls for the book to be picked up. This is a great introduction the the graphic novel format for young readers. The very funny illustrations are broken up with just the right amount of text for newly independent readers. I love the very comical expressive eyes particular when Sally gets mad. They really are a window to the soul and in this case, Sally’s honest big-sister frustrations are quite obvious. This is very funny, especially for those readers with younger siblings. I mean who hasn’t thought of ways to dispense with, or swap a younger brother or sister – momentarily of course! Sally does find that her creation isn’t quite what she hoped for but her little brother seems to be totally oblivious to her plans and sits their looking perfectly cute. I do think this would make an ideal little series so I hope there are more adventures with Sally.

An ideal book to encourage creative  and makerspace thinking.

 

Teaching notes found here.

Small things

By Mel Tregonning

ISBN 9781742379791

Allen&Unwin

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I have had this book at home for some time now but I have struggled to write this review. I struggled to find words  that would adequately do justice to this book’s beauty. It is one of the most powerful books I have read in a long time. It is a wordless graphic novel for older readers and throws such a punch that I was left breathless. This book hits us with everything it has. Quality, beauty, sadness, hope all woven together with the most stunning illustrations.

Mel Tregonning’s illustrations capture feelings with such honesty that it is at times confronting. A young boy  is obviously so overwhelmed by his feelings of inadequacy and isolation that his world begins to fall apart. Indeed, it is the young boy himself who begins, bit by bit to crumble. His growing sense of sadness and loneliness is so raw and real it begins to eat away at him. At times when he is desperately trying to fit in, he fumbles, feeling others laughing at him and starts blushing. Despite the illustrations being black and white, Mel Tregonning captures his embarrassment through clever shading and we can feel his pain acutely. 

I so wanted to grab this boy, pull him out of the dark pages and his dark world, hold him close and hug him forever. He situation is so real and sadly all too common. However, there is also hope and the lovely sense of a friendship just starting to bud. 

I strongly believe this book is bound for all sorts of awards and deservedly so. It is with such sadness that the illustrator who died in 2014 will not be around to see the impact her beautiful book has had.

Much has been made of the fact that Mel Tregonning took her own life but rather than focus on this I want to point out that the author and illustrator Shaun Tan illustrated the last three illustrations to complete this book. For me, this highlights the fact that at times we all need help and is one of the most powerful messages in this book. 

Yes, this book moved me to tears but it is a book and story we need to read. We need to talk about depression, loneliness, sadness and how to deal with these issues. It is not for young readers. I will restrict this book to year six only (10 years up). There is so much to unpack and discuss with this book. For teachers and parents it is a great book to use to begin those awkward conversations that if left unspoken, could become worse. Sometimes, all we need to know is that we are not alone and that others feel the same way we do.

I love this book for so many reasons but mostly for its gutsy honesty and the message that we need to reach out, either for help, or to help.

Teacher notes available here for both primary and secondary schools.

Muddy Max : The mystery of Marsh Creek
By Elizabeth Rush
Illustrated by Mike Lawrence

ISBN 9781449435615

Muddy Max is the first-ever slime-covered superhero who lives with his annoying neat-freak parents. With his savvy sidekick and his RC-driving, mountain-biking tomboy crush they face mysteries and danger with a heap of mud for good measure. In this first book in a new graphic novel series Max has to figure out who or what is lurking in the trees in the muddy marsh. And just maybe he can save a few lives at the same time.
Sounds great for primary aged students who love a good mystery told in a quirky way in graphic novel form. Can just imagine the boys lining up for this one.